Governing Body Ratings Explored – A Quantitative Study

By Harry Walklin - Boxing’s four principle world governing bodies; the World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Organisation (WBO) and the International Boxing Federation (IBF) often list a diverse range of fighters in their rankings and one body’s rankings are often considerably different from that of the next. It can be argued that a fighter’s inclusion and position in these rankings is of vital importance as on the most part it corresponds to their opportunity to fight for a world championship, and the respect, recognition and financial remuneration that comes hand in hand with doing so..

This study has looked into the composition of the above four governing bodies’ rankings to identify the age of the typical fighters included in the rankings, along with whether prior to their current ranking position they had held a world championship. Other variables explored were whether the fighters ranked were undefeated and whether they held one of the governing body’s feeder or area titles (e.g. IBF International, WBO Inter-Continental, WBC Continental Americas and WBA Latin American). It should be recognised that these variables potentially have little or no influence on a fighter’s position or inclusion in the rankings but provide an interesting starting point for such a study.

The data set for this study composed of a governing body’s (WBC/WBA/WBO/IBF) top ten rankings in five different weight classes (Heavyweight, Super Middleweight, Welterweight, Super Featherweight/Junior Lightweight and Bantamweight). For the purpose of the study, a fighter was said to have been a world champion if they had previously held one or more of the WBC/WBA/WBO/IBF world championships in the weight class they were currently ranked in (for the purpose of the study and to simplify the process ‘interim’ championships were not included). A fighter’s area/feeder titles were only recognised if the fighter held such a title, and was ranked by the body that governs the title (e.g. A fighter holding the WBO Inter-Continental title and ranked within the top ten of the WBO’s rankings for the division for which the title relates would be counted).

The results of the study were as follows:


The average age of fighters in the WBC/WBA/WBO/IBF top ten rankings in the five weight classes analysed was:

World Boxing Council (WBC) – 28.7 years
World Boxing Association (WBA) – 28.8 years
World Boxing Organisation (WBO) – 28.1 years
International Boxing Federation (IBF) – 29.2 years

Average – 28.7 years


The percentage of fighters that were undefeated in the WBC/WBA/WBO/IBF top ten rankings in the five weight classes analysed was:

World Boxing Council (WBC) – 30%
World Boxing Association (WBA) – 31.3%
World Boxing Organisation (WBO) – 34%
International Boxing Federation (IBF) – 18.2%

Average – 28.4%


The percentage of fighters that previously held a world championship in the WBC/WBA/WBO/IBF top ten rankings in the five weight classes analysed was:

World Boxing Council (WBC) – 12%
World Boxing Association (WBA) – 27.1%
World Boxing Organisation (WBO) – 12%
International Boxing Federation (IBF) – 25%

Average – 19%


The percentage of fighters that currently hold an area/feeder title in the WBC/WBA/WBO/IBF top ten rankings in the five weight classes analysed was:

World Boxing Council (WBC) – 20%
World Boxing Association (WBA) – 18.8%
World Boxing Organisation (WBO) – 28%
International Boxing Federation (IBF) – 2.3%

Average – 17.3%


The above results highlight that the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) is perhaps more willing to rank fighters that hold its feeder/area titles (28%), whilst the International Boxing Federation (IBF) may put less emphasis on undefeated fighters in their rankings (18.2%). It appears that the World Boxing Association (27.1%) and the International Boxing Federation (25%) find it appropriate to list former world champions in their rankings to a greater extent than the World Boxing Council (12%) and World Boxing Organisation (12%). The ages of the fighters ranked are fairly constant across all four governing bodies.

However, again it must be recognised that such variables are likely to be coincidental and the governing bodies are likely to rank the fighters they see as the most deserving (at the time of rating) regardless of age, record and past and present titles held. The World Boxing Association (WBA) for instance state that their ratings are ‘’based (in no special order) on the boxers’ own calibre, their level of activity, and their level of opponents’’ (World Boxing Association, 2010).

It should also be recognised that there are a number of inherent limitations with my study. Such limitations include:

- Governing bodies such as the WBC/WBA/WBO/IBF rank fifteen fighters in their ratings, yet I only used the top ten in this study – the results may have been different if the full rankings were used

- This study only reflects the fighters that were in the top ten when the rankings were obtained, the rankings are updated frequently by the governing bodies and as a result different fighters with different ages, records and past and present achievements enter and exit the ratings on a frequent basis

- Only five of the seventeen weight classes in boxing were analysed – a more detailed study may unearth different results
However, despite these limitations I hope this research has proved interesting to anyone who has read it.

If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at:

Article posted on 05.02.2010

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