World Heavyweight Championship boxing: The past 30+ years of the male division


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Data from the past 30+ years of the male boxing World Heavyweight Championship (n = 182 bouts) was obtained. The USA were the most represented and produced more champions than any other nation, followed by the UK, Ukraine and Russia. Denmark (100%), Ukraine (85.4%) and the UK (67.3%) produced the greatest ‘success rates’ in World Heavyweight Championship contests. Where possible, comparisons between bout winners and losers were also made. Winners were significantly taller (p < 0.001, d = 0.35) and had a greater reach (p = 0.003, d = 0.23) when compared to losers. Championship bouts were settled by the following methods: a form of knockout (101), points decision (57), retirement (14), draw (3), disqualification (3), technical decision (1), whilst 3 no contests were omitted from the analysis. Total punches thrown and landed, and jabs and power punches thrown and landed were consistently significantly greater (p < 0.005, d = 0.27–0.73) in winners, compared to losers. Winners were more accurate compared to their losing counterparts by ~ 8 percentage points. The data presented in the present study clearly show some anthropometric advantages of championship bout winners, compared to their unsuccessful counterparts, and that winners are more active and accurate when compared to losers. The punch output data, albeit very basic, may be useful in informing tactical strategy and preparation of heavyweight prospects. Likewise, the data in the present study may be an interesting resource for professional boxing enthusiasts. Future research should seek to replicate the analysis in the present study across other weight divisions to explore any potential differences between weight classes. Additionally, extending the analysis to female boxing may provide interesting comparisons
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0263038
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Early online date24 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2022


  • boxing
  • world heavyweight


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