There have been plenty of unified world champions in boxing’s history, but they are only a handful of fighters that can lay claim to being the undisputed king of their division.
There have only been six men that have claimed all four belts and we take a look at those who have held the WBC, WBO, WBA and IBF titles simultaneously.
Bernard Hopkins held all four middleweight titles in 2004. B-Hop won the vacant IBF belt against Segundo Mercado in 1994 and then took Keith Holmes’ WBC crown in 2001. The Philadelphia puncher won Felix Trinidad’s WBA title in his very next fight.
Hopkins successfully defended his three belts four times, before his chance to become the undisputed king came when facing Oscar de la Hoya for all four titles at the MGM Grand in 2004. B-Hop won the fight with a ninth-round knockout of Golden Boy and secured his place in history.
Jermain Taylor was the next man to achieve the feat, but his path had already been paved by Hopkins. Bad Intentions was unbeaten in 23 fights and that gained him a shot at B-Hop’s four world titles in 2005. Taylor managed a split-decision victory, and he put the arguments to bed when outputting Hopkins again, later in the same year. The Arkansas man made a further three successful defences before losing his titles to Kelly Pavlik in 2007. A rematch followed but Taylor was unable to regain his belts.
Terence Crawford became the undisputed light-welterweight champ when beating Julius Indongo in 2017. Crawford remains one of boxing’s pound-for-pound kings but he is now operating at welterweight. Bud also held the WBO lightweight title earlier in his career, and on the evidence of his win over Shaun Porter in 2021, you wouldn’t bet against him picking up more belts in the future.
Oleksandr Usyk is a beautiful fighter and he put on a boxing masterclass when winning the WBA IBF and WBO heavyweight titles and defeating Anthony Joshua in 2021.
However, the Ukrainian achieved even more as a cruiserweight. The Cat is unbeaten in a 19-fight professional career and he held all four cruiser belts in 2018. Usyk is also an Olympic champion and he is without a doubt one of the best boxers we have ever seen.
Josh Taylor became the first British fighter to be crowned undisputed champion in the four-belt era when outpointing Jose Ramírez for his WBC and WBO light-welterweight titles in 2021. The Tartan Tornado won the IBF belt when beating Ivan Baranchyk and he then went on to claim Regis Prograis’ WBA crown in the Boxing Super Series. Taylor is set to defend all four titles against fellow Brit Jack Catterall in 2022.
Canelo Alvarez became the latest fighter to join the club when taking Caleb Plant’s IBF super-middleweight title. Prior to that the Mexican had won Billy Joe Saunders’ WBO belt and that followed another victory over a British fighter. Canelo beat Calum Smith to win the WBA and WBC crowns and the Mexican has to be included in any current pound-for-pound king discussions.