With the upcoming super showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman on the 20th July 2019, it brought an interesting fact to light – both of these fighters are among the longest-reigning champions who currently hold a WBA belt.
With one of them set to lose this honour come the Pacquiao vs Thurman fight, we decided to look at who else holds this interesting honour and see who are some of the longest-reigning champs the WBA has to offer.
Dmitry Bivol, Light Heavyweight – 1,149 Days
Since winning his World Title on 21st May 2016, Bivol has been the longest-reigning champion with a WBA belt, and by quite a long way.
He’s not just a paper champ either, Bivol has made a total of nine title defences since, against some of the best fighters in his division. Boxers like Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal and Joe Smith Jr have been unable to prise the belt from his waist.
There isn’t much in the way of planning for his next bout after fighting as recently as March, so we will have to wait and see if he can hold it for much longer.
Keith Thurman, Welterweight – 984 Days
Keith “One Time” Thurman won his WBA strap in a bout back in November 2016 and hasn’t looked back since. Thurman is currently undefeated with a record of 29 wins, 22 by way of knockout.
His upcoming showpiece with Manny Pacquiao for welterweight supremacy will either see him extend his record for the length he’s held the belt or it will bring it to an abrupt end.
Kal Yafai, Super Flyweight – 946 Days
Kal won his Super Flyweight belt on 10th December 2016 and whilst he’s only made five defences in that time, the standard of fighters he’s faced have all been at world level. Last time out, he was taken the distance by Norbelto Jimenez in Rhode Island, winning on points.
He’s been tipped to face Charlie Edwards next, but not wanting to drop down a weight class just yet, Yafai will likely face Juan Francisco Estrada, the current WBC Champion, Jerwin Ancajas of the IBF or Kazuto Ioka from the WBO.
Manny Pacquaio, Welterweight – 365 Days
At the time of writing (15th July 2019), Pac-Man has held his strap for exactly a year… now you might be thinking there is quite a drop between the guys we’d mentioned previously and Manny… that’s because there is.
He’s currently the 13th longest-serving champion for the WBA; however, when Thurman and Pacquiao’s reign is combined it dwarfs all others.
Their upcoming fight will also see just one belt remaining with either boxer as Manny has held the interim title whereas Thurman has been the proper holder of the title belt. The interim belt is awarded due to politics and isn’t really held in high regard by fighters.
Whatever happens in their bout, one of the fighters will continue their reign whilst the other will have to start from scratch again.