The welterweight division has always been a big hit with boxing fans as it has featured some of the sport’s most dynamic champions. The division is contested for fighters weighing between 140 and 147lbs and sits between the lightweight and middleweight divisions. This list features the 10 longest reigning welterweight boxing champions in history. It deals with single reigns rather than combined reigns for those who held the title more than once.
The current champions as of July 10th 2017 are Keith Thurman (WBA Super and WBC), Lamont Peterson (WBA Regular) and Errol Spence (IBF) of the USA and Jeff Horn (WBO) of Australia. Some of the most popular past champions include Floyd Mayweather Jr., Jose Napoles, Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong, Sugar Ray Leonard, Wilfredo Benitez, Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns, Oscar De La Hoya, Emile Griffith and Manny Pacquiao.
10. Simon Brown
He may not be recognized as one of the all-time greats, but Simon Brown of Jamaica was a solid welterweight champ, who defended the IBF Title nine times during his reign of three years, five months and 11 days. He was actually a two-division belt holder as Brown also won a junior middleweight title. Brown, who was nicknamed Mantequilla, was pretty active during his pro career from 1982 to 2000 as he fought 59 times with a record of 47-12 with 34 Kos while losing his final six fights. Brown started his career at 21-0 and then managed to win the vacant IBF Championship in 1988 with a 14th-round TKO over Tyrone Trice. Brown added the WBC Title when he beat Maurice Blocker in 1991, but lost his belts to Buddy McGirt in his next fight. He stopped Terry Norris two years later for the WBC Jr. Middleweight crown and defended it once against Troy Waters before losing to Norris in their rematch.
9. Mickey Walker
American Mickey Walker of Elizabeth, New Jersey and was known as the Toy Bulldog. He won world titles in the welterweight and middleweight divisions and even fought as a light heavyweight and heavyweight. Walker fought from 1919 to 1935 and officially went 94-19-4 with 60 Kos. He won the World Welterweight Championship in November, 1922 by a 15-round unanimous decision over Jack Britton at Madison Square Garden. He then held the title for three years, five months and 20 days and defended it five times as well as participating in numerous non-title bouts. Walker lost the welterweight belt to Pete Latzo in May, 1926 and then moved up to middleweight. He won that division’s title just seven months later with a controversial 10-round points win over Tiger Flowers. Walker reigned as middleweight champ for five years, but defended his title just three times before moving up to heavier divisions. After retiring, Walker became a world-renowned artist.
8. Jack Britton
Jack ‘Boxing Marvel’ Britton was another American boxer who fought in the earlier days of the sport. The native of Clinton, New York fought professionally between 1904 and 1930 and compiled an official record of 104-29-20 with 30 Kos. He was a three-time World Welterweight Champion with his longest reign being three years, seven months and 13 days. Britton first won the crown in June, 1915 with a 12-round decision over Mike Glover. However, he lost it in his first defense against Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis just two months later. Britton regained the title in a rematch with Lewis seven months after that, but once again lost it to Lewis the next year. Britton won the title for the third time by knocking Lewis out in the ninth round in March, 1919 and successfully defended it four times before losing to Mickey Walker in November, 1922.
7. Donald Curry
One of the best welterweights of the 1980s and 90s was Donald Curry of Fort Worth, Texas. Curry was known as the Lone Star Cobra and after a fine amateur career, made the 1980 American Olympic Boxing Team. His dreams of competing were shattered though when the U.S. boycotted the Games. Curry fought pro from 1980 to 1997 with a record of 34-6 with 25 Kos. He won the vacant WBA Welterweight Championship in February, 1983 with a unanimous decision over Jun-Suk Hwang. Curry’s brother Bruce would soon win the WBC Jr. Welterweight Title and the Curry’s became the first siblings to hold world titles at the same time. Curry added the IBF Welterweight Title in 1984 and then knocked out Milton McCrory for the WBC and Lineal Belts. He lost all of his titles in September, 1986 when Lloyd Honeyghan stopped him in six. However, he held the WBA Title for three years, seven months and 14 days while defending it seven times. Curry would later win the WBC Jr. Middleweight Title, but failed in three attempts at a middleweight belt.
6. Sugar Ray Robinson
Arguably the greatest boxer of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson of Ailey, Georgia fought between the featherweight and light heavyweight divisions between 1940 and 1965 with a record of 173-19-6 with 108 Kos after going 85-0 as an amateur with 69 Kos. He also enjoyed the longest unbeaten streak in pro boxing history at 91 contests between 1943 and 1951. Robinson won the World Welterweight Championship with a 15-roud unanimous decision over Tommy Bell in December, 1946 and held onto it for three years, seven months and 19 days while defending it five times and winning numerous non-title bouts. Robinson then moved up to middleweight and became a five-time champion in the division. After retiring, Robinson dabbled in acting, but he’ll forever be remembered for his fights against the likes of Jake LaMotta, Henry Armstrong, Kid Gavilan, Bobo Olson, Randy Turpin, Gene Fullmer and Carmen Basilio.
5. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
At 49-0 with 26 Kos since turning pro back in, 40-year-old Floyd Mayweather Jr. of Grand Rapids, Michigan will be coming back to take on UFC fighter Conor McGregor on August 26th. As a boxer though, Mayweather has won world titles in five different weight divisions and has racked up four different Lineal Titles and a grand total of 15 world championship belts. He reigned as Welterweight Champion for four years before being stripped of the title and defended it five times. The former 1996 Olympic bronze medalist at featherweight won the IBF and vacant IBO Welterweight Titles with a unanimous decision over Zab Judah in April, 2006 and added the WBA, IBC, and Lineal Titles in his next bout against Carlos Baldomir. Mayweather would give up the IBF belt and things would get a little complicated as he fought at catch-weights on a few occasions and he would later win the WBO Welterweight Crown by beating Manny Pacquiao in 2015. He was soon stripped of that title for failing to pay a $200,000 sanctioning fee.
4. Pernell Whitaker
One of the best pure boxers and defensive fighters in the history of the sport was Pernell ‘Sweet Pea’ Whitaker of Norfolk, Virginia. Whitaker would win world titles in four different weight classes and defended the WBC Welterweight Championship eight times during his reign of four years, one month and six days. He also won gold as a lightweight at the 1984 Olympics. Whitaker fought professionally from 1984 to 2001 with a record of 40-4-1 with 17 Kos and one no contest. After winning titles in the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions, Whitaker won the WBC and Lineal Welterweight Titles by unanimous decision over Buddy McGirt in September, 1993. He won the WBA Super Welterweight Championship in 1995 and held onto to his Welterweight Belts until losing to Oscar De La Hoya in April, 1997. Whitaker lost his last three bouts before retiring.
3. Jose Napoles
Cuba has long produced some of the world’s finest boxers and Jose ‘Mantequilla’ Napoles is a prime example even though he did end up fighting out of Mexico after becoming a citizen of that country. Napoles fought 88 times as a pro between 1958 and 1975 with a record of 81-7 with 54 Kos. Napoles won the WBA and WBC Welterweight Titles in 1969 when he stopped Curtis Cokes after 13 rounds. He would defend the belts three times before being stopped by Billy Backus in the fourth round in December, 1970. Napoles stopped Backus in their rematch the next year to regain the titles. He then held the belts for four years, six months and two days. Carlos Monzon stopped him in February, 1974 when Napoles challenged the Middleweight Champion. Napoles moved back to welterweight where he was still the champ and held the belt until John Stracey stopped him in his final bout in December, 1975 in Napoles’ 15th overall defense.
2. Antonio Margarito
Mexico’s Antonio Margarito will always be remembered for “doctoring” his hand wraps with plaster of Paris against Shane Mosley in 2009. But he did manage to defend the WBO Welterweight Championship seven times during his reign of five years, three months and 28 days. In fact, he’s a three-time champ at welterweight as he would later win WBA and IBF Titles. The 39-year-old is currently 40-8-1 with 27 Kos and one no-contest after turning pro in 1994. Margarito won the vacant WBO Title in March, 2002 with a 10th-round TKO over Antonio Diaz. He lost it in his eighth defense when Paul Williams beat him by unanimous decision in July of 2007. Margarito beat Kermit Cintron for the IBF Belt and Miguel Cotto for the WBA Title in 2008, but then lost to Mosley. He lost to Cotto in a rematch at junior middleweight and to Manny Pacquiao in the same division in a title shot. Margarito retired in 2011, but came back in 2016 and has won two fights since.
1. Felix Trinidad
The longest-reigning Welterweight Champion of all time was Puerto Rico’s Felix Trinidad as he held the IBF Title for six years, eight months and 14 days. Trinidad boxed from 1990 to 2008 after the five-time national amateur champ turned pro at 17 years of age. He would win world titles in three weight divisions and went 42-3 as a pro with 35 Kos. All three of his defeats came in his last five bouts. Trinidad captured the welterweight crown in June, 1993 when he stopped Maurice Blocker in the second round. He’d go on to defend it 15 times against the likes of Luis Garcia, Hector Camacho, Oba Carr, Pernell Whitaker and Oscar De La Hoya. He also won the WBC and Lineal Welterweight Titles in his September, 1999 win over De La Hoya. Trinidad then vacated his titles in 2000 to fight as a junior middleweight then middleweight and won world titles in both divisions.