Undisputed vs Unified vs Lineal – Different Boxing Champions Explained

In boxing, there are so many different champions and organizations that it can be confusing for new fans to keep up. You have lineal champions, unified champions, and undisputed champions.

To clear the confusion, we’ll explain just what it means to be considered one of these champions – also listing some of the most notable undisputed champions of all time.

Let’s dive in.

What is a Lineal Champion In Boxing? 

A lineal champion is a boxer who beats the reigning and defending champion—specifically beating the former undisputed to become the new champion of a weight division.

What is a Unified Boxing Champion? 

A unified boxing champion is a boxer who holds more than one world title, but not all four. They are the champions of two to three sanctioning bodies within their weight class.

What Is An Undisputed Boxing Champion?  

To be an undisputed boxing champion, you must hold every title of the four major boxing organizations. Every pro boxer’s goal is to hold every major belt simultaneously.

Those four major boxing organizations include:

Famous Undisputed Boxing Champions 

undisputed vs unified vs lineal

There is a long list of undisputed champions in the history of boxing. Below we discuss some of the most notable undisputed champions within each weight division.

Different Criteria To Be An Undisputed Champion

The criteria of an undisputed champion has changed throughout the history of boxing. This is due to the inclusion of different boxing organizations and sanctioning bodies since 1921.

Throughout the history of boxing, there have been four criteria for being an undisputed boxing champion.

These include:

  • 1st criteria(1921-1963): Holding the New York State Athletic Commission Title (NYSAC) the NBA title (renamed WBA in 1962). 
  • 2nd Criteria (1963-1983): Simultaneously holding the WBA and WBC world titles.
  • 3rd Criteria (1983-2007): Boxers who held the WBA, WBC, and IBF world titles.
  • 4th Criteria (Current): The current definition of an undisputed champion is holding the belts of the four major organizations.

Famous Undisputed Heavyweight Champion 

  • Jack Dempsey
  • Max Schmeling
  • Primo Carnero
  • Max Baer
  • J.J. Braddock
  • Joe Louis
  • Ezzard Charles
  • Jersey Joe Walcott
  • Rocky Marciano
  • Floyd Patterson
  • Sonny Liston
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Joe Frazier
  • George Foreman
  • Mike Tyson
  • Evander Holyfield
  • Lennox Lewis

Famous Undisputed Cruiserweight Champions 

  • Evander Holyfield
  • Oleksandr Usyk

Famous Undisputed Light Heavyweight Champions 

  • Maxie Rosenbloom
  • Archie Moore
  • Dick Tiger
  • Bob Foster
  • Michael Spinks
  • Roy Jones Jr

Famous Undisputed Super Middleweight Champions 

  • Canelo Alvarez

Famous Undisputed Middleweight Champions 

  • Johnny Wilson 
  • Harry Greb
  • Mickey Walker
  • Vince Dundee
  • Freddie Steele
  • Tony Zale
  • Jake Lamotta
  • Sugar Ray Robinson
  • Carlos Monzon
  • Marvin Hagler
  • Bernard Hopkins

Famous Undisputed Light Middleweight Champions

  • Sandro Mazzinghi
  • Kim Ki-soo
  • Freddie Little
  • Koichi Wajima 

Famous Undisputed Welterweight Champions 

  • Jackie Britton
  • Pete Latzo
  • Joe Dundee
  • Henry Armstrong
  • Sugar Ray Robinson
  • Kid Gavilan 
  • Carmen Basilio
  • Benny Paret
  • Emile Griffith
  • Curtis Cokes
  • Jose Napoles
  • Sugar Ray Leonard
  • Cory Spinks
  • Zab Judah

Famous Undisputed Light Welterweight Champions 

  • Carlos Ortiz
  • Duilio Loi
  • Eddie Perkins
  • Carlos Hernandez
  • Kostya Tszyu
  • Terrence Crawford
  • Josh Taylor

Famous Undisputed Lightweight Champions 

  • Benny Leonard
  • Sammy Mandell
  • Tony Canzoneri
  • Lou Ambers
  • Ike Williams
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Ismael Laguna
  • Mando Ramos
  • Joe Brown
  • Carlos Ortiz
  • Pernell Whitaker
  • Devin Haney

Famous Undisputed Super Featherweight Champions 

  • Tod Morgan
  • Gabriel Elorde
  • Hiroshi Kobayashi

Famous Undisputed Featherweight Champions 

  • Benny Bass
  • Christopher tBattalino
  • Henry Armstrong
  • Joey Archibald
  • Willie Pep
  • Sandy Saddler
  • Hogan Bassey 
  • Davey Moore
  • Sugar Ramos
  • Vicente Saldivar

Famous Undisputed Bantamweight Champions

  • Joe Lynch
  • Johnny Bluff
  • Abe Goldstein
  • Panama Al Brown
  • Sixto Escobar
  • Lou Salica
  • Manuel Ortiz
  • Vic Toweel
  • Jimmy Caruthers
  • Jose Becerra
  • Eder Jofre
  • Fighting Harada
  • LIonel Rose
  • Ruben Olivares

Famous Undisputed Flyweight Champions

  • Pancho Villa
  • Fidel LaBarba
  • Horacio Accavallo

Famous Women’s Undisputed Champions

  • Franchon Crews-Dezurn: Undisputed women’s middleweight champion.
  • Claressa Shields: Former women’s middleweight and light middleweight champion.
  • Cecilia Braekus: Former undisputed women’s welterweight champion.
  • Jessica McCaskill: Undisputed women’s welterweight champion.
  • Katie Taylor: Women’s lightweight champion with over six title defenses.

Lineal vs Unified vs Undisputed Summary

Hopefully, these explanations cleared up any confusion you may have had about the different types of boxing champions. To summarize, here are short definitions of each type of champion.

  • Lineal Champion: Beat the undisputed champion to become the new champion.
  • Unified Champion: Holds two to three of the major championships
  • Undisputed Champion: Holds all the major titles at once.

If you enjoyed our article on the different types of boxing champions, share it by hitting the button below.

Photo of author

Gareth Davies

I'm a martial arts competitor and enthusiast. Over the last 15 years, I have trained and competed in several martial arts. I live in Manchester U.K working as a strength & conditioning coach when I'm not travelling and exploring martial arts around the world.
FS Banner