Who rules the boxing world?


Who holds the most titles, who are the dark horses, and where do Great Britain fit in when it comes to winning?
As the world’s best football teams battle it out for World Cup glory, we take a look at just who rules the boxing world.
With 17 weight classes and a possible 85 titles from the four recognised bodies – IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO – to be had, who is holding all the belts, which continents have plenty to celebrate and what surprises have been sprung?
Joshua back at Wembley
Anthony Joshua’s next two fights will take place at the national stadium in north west London.
So we got the map and the calculator out to see just who are the winners in the boxing world…
It is no surprise to find that USA holds the most world titles between them, but did you expect them to be further ahead than the rest? From heavyweight supremo Deontay Wilder down to WBC super-bantamweight holder Daniel Roman, America holds 15 titles. Had James DeGale not vacated earlier this week, Great Britain would be in second spot, right on their case with nine, and add that long-standing champion Jamie McDonnell’s recent loss to Japan’s Naoya Inoue, the home nations could be holding 10 world titles. Japan is perhaps the biggest emergence, with eight titles belonging to them, putting them on a par with Mexico.
Ryota Murata made Japanese history to become their first-ever middleweight title holder eight months ago. It stretched their success from the 105lbs minimum weight all the way up to the 160lbs backbone division, but Great Britain still prove that size isn’t everything. From super-flyweight star Kal Yafai up to Anthony Joshua, there is a 15-weight class difference. Japan (14) and USA (12) are not far behind, but Americans do hold a title in nine of their divisions.
Long gone are the days of North America ruling the global roost. Yes, USA and Mexico’s duet is still at No 1, but Eurovision is coming. North America has four countries with world champions while five European nations have born winners. Great Britain have eight, with Joshua the only fighter on the planet to hold a hat-trick of belts. If Alexander Povetkin springs a major surprise should he face Joshua, Russia will flip the script and have eight of their own. Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk are the Ukrainian duet on the same song sheet, with three titles between them and Germany (2) and Belarus (1), completing the European points. Asia dominates the lower weight classes but had Joseph Parker or Jeff Horn recently retained their world titles, we would be talking about six of the seven continents.
Gennady Golovkin flies the Kazakhstan flag of course and in boxing terms, his homeland is in Asia. Yes, the football team failed to qualify for Russia 2018 from the European group, won by Poland, but ‘GGG’ and the up-and-coming compatriot, Daniyar Yeleussinov, both struck gold in the Asian games before turning pro. And no, their country was not in this year’s Eurovision.
If England are in the quarter-finals in Russia, their boxing equivalents, Great Britain, are at least in the semi-finals of the boxing stats. USA are still the No 1 seed and favourites, with 15 belts belonging to them, with eight flying the Union Jack flag, Japan on the same and Mexico just behind them on seven. But think back to 2016, when the 11-a-side were frozen out of the European Championships, these shores boasted no fewer than 13 world champions. Now there are just six. DeGale’s recent surrender of the IBF super-middleweight strap has not boosted the stats, although Rocky Fielding can redress the balance on July 15, while at least ‘Chunky’, Tony Bellew and Terry Flanagan did not lose their titles in the ring. Kell Brook, Liam Smith and Lee Selby have hopes of regaining a crown sooner rather than later, while Jamie McDonnell, Carl Frampton and Terry Flanagan have moved up in weight.
The simple fact that 18, yes 18 countries hold world titles, shows just how far and wide the boxing talent is spreading. There are six countries who have a sole representative, with Canada’s Adonis Stevenson, the one that everyone has heard of. Manny Pacquiao could well return to the top tier when he takes on Lucas Matthysse and Nonito Donaire has signed up for the World Boxing Super Series, but Jessie Magdaleno is currently the Philippines’ only titlist. Carlos Canizales of Venezuela, Cristofer Rosales of Nicaragua, Ghana’s Isaac Dogboe and Kiryl Relikh from Belarus, are the others. Would you have put them down had you been asked to name all 18 countries? Or would you have gone for the likes of Colombia, France, Denmark or Australia? They might have reached Russia 2018 but are not part of the new boxing elite.

The Nation with most titles 
USA         – 15
G. Bretain     –  8
Japan         – 8
Mexico         – 7
Russia         – 5
S/Africa         – 3
Thailand     – 3
Ukraine     – 3
Argentina     – 2
Germany     – 2
Kasahkhtan     – 2
Puerto Rica     – 2
Belarus         – 1
Ghana         – 1
Canada         – 1
Nicaragua     – 1
Philippines     – 1
Venezuela     – 1


With five world titles between the four recognised bodies, you would have thought unifications were commonplace.
There are only six fighters who have doubled up and one of those will vanish when Usyk and Gassiev put their two world cruiserweight titles on the line in the historic World Boxing Super Series final.
Thurman and certainly Wilder, there is only one American currently holding two world titles.
McDonnell was our longest-standing world champion until he suffered at the brutal hands of ‘The Monster’ at the end of May.
Joshua might be our only unified champion and the name on everybody’s lips, but Billy Joe Saunders is now Great Britain’s longest surviving world champion. Saunders might have only made three defences of his WBO middleweight title but has held it for 928 days. Joshua is a few months behind, with 819 days.
1. Anthony Joshua (Great Britain) Heavyweight – IBF, WBA Super & WBO
2. Murat Gassiev (Russia) Cruiserweight – IBF & WBA Super
3. Oleksandr Usyk (Ukraine) Cruiserweight – WBC & WBO
4. Gennady Golovkin (Kazakhstan) Middleweight – WBA Super & WBC
5. Jarrett Hurd (USA) Super-welterweight – IBF & WBA Super
6. Hekkie Budler (South Africa) Light-flyweight – IBF & WBA Super.

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