What is the difference between Undisputed Champions and Unified Champions? List of three- and four-belt titleholders, current undisputed champions

The sport of boxing never makes it easy for fans to argue over who is the number one fighter in each division.

With four governing bodies each having their own version of world titles, it can be confusing, however, it seems boxing is slowly starting to crown more undisputed champions.

Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is the undisputed champion at 168 pounds, while Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano will square off for the undisputed women’s lightweight title exclusively live on DAZN. There is also a chance that there may be an undisputed world heavyweight champion at the end of this year.

However, while there are very few undisputed champions, there are plenty of unified champions, including Oleksandr Usyk at heavyweight and Errol Spence Jr at welterweight.

Putting all of these titles and terms together can definitely be a mouthful. What does unified and undisputed champion mean? What are the differences between the two?

What does it mean to be a Unified Champion?

A unified champion is one who holds at least two of the major sanctioning titles in a division:

Current Unified Champions include:

  • Heavy weights: Oleksandr Usyk — IBF, WBA (super), WBO
  • Welterweight: Errol Spence Jr.—IBF, WBC
  • Mid-heavyweight: Arthur Beterbiev — IBF, UK
  • Junior Middleweight: Jermell Charlo—IBF, WBA (super), WBC
  • Welterweight: Errol Spence Jr.—IBF, WBC
  • Lightweight: George Kambosos Jr—IBF, WBA (super), WBO
  • Super Bantamweight: Stephen Fulton – WBC, WBO
  • Super Bantamweight: Murodjon Akhmadaliev — IFB, WBA (super)
  • Bantam-weight: Naoya Inoue—IBF, WBA (super)

What does it mean to be an undisputed champion?

An undisputed champion is a fighter who holds all four major championship belts (IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO) in one division.

Since the start of the four belt era in 2004, there has not been an undisputed heavyweight champion. The last undisputed heavyweight division champion was Lennox Lewis in November 1999, when he defeated Evander Holyfield in their rematch. At the time, there were three major belts (WBC, WBA, IBF).

During the four belt era, there have been six undisputed champions in men’s boxing: Oleksandr Usyk (cruiserweight), Bernard Hopkins (middleweight), Jermain Taylor (middleweight), Terence Crawford (junior welterweight), Josh Taylor (junior welterweight) and Saul ‘Canelo’ Álvarez.

On the women’s side, there have been four undisputed champions, two of whom currently hold all four belts:

  • Lightweight: Katie Taylor
  • Welterweight: Jessica McCaskill

Previously, Cecilia Brækhus held all four 147-pound titles before losing them to McCaskill in August 2020.

Why is George Kambosos Jr not considered the undisputed lightweight champion?

One bone of contention when it comes to the current crop of undisputed champions is whether George Kambosos Jr is the undisputed lightweight champion.

The Australian currently holds the WBA, WBO, IBF and WBC (franchise) titles after beating Teofimo Lopez last November. However, there is another world lightweight title currently present in the boxing sphere and that is the WBC title belt which is held by Devin Haney.

Haney received the belt after the governing body made Lopez the ‘franchise’ champion following his win over Vasiliy Lomachenko in 2020. A ‘franchise’ champion is afforded the luxury of not having to make any mandatory defenses and continue the fights he wants.

Due to this status and the fact that there is no “franchise” champion in each division, most fans do not view the “franchise” belt as a legitimate belt, but the fighter who holds the WBC title. normal is considered the champion of the organization.

Nonetheless, if Haney and Kambosos were to fight at some point this year, it could end up being for the undisputed lightweight championship if neither is defeated or stripped of a title by then.

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