The WBO started after a group of Puerto Rican and Dominican businessmen broke out of the World Boxing Association's 1988 annual convention in Isla Margarita, Venezuela over disputes regarding what rules should be applied.
The WBO's first president was Ramon Pina Acevedo of the Dominican Republic. Soon after its beginning, the WBO was staging world championship bouts around the globe. Its first championship fight was for its vacant super middleweight title, between Thomas Hearns and James Kinchen; Hearns won by decision. In order to gain respectability, the WBO next elected former world light heavyweight champion José Torres of Ponce, Puerto Rico, as its president. Torres left in 1996, giving way to Puerto Rican lawyer Francisco Varcarcel as president. Varcarcel has been there since.
The WBO was made popular by boxers such as Manny Pacquiao, Oscar De La Hoya, Marco Antonio Barrera, Ronald "Winky" Wright, Naseem Hamed, Verno Phillips, Michael Carbajal, Johnny Tapia, Harry Simon, Jermain Taylor, Nigel Benn, Paul "Silky" Jones, Gerald McClellan, Joe Calzaghe, Steve Collins, Daniel Santos, Michael Moorer, Dariusz Michalczewski, Chris Eubank, Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir Klitschko and Chris Byrd in the 1990s.
The WBO sanctioned a fight between two relatively unknown fighters, Francesco Damiani and Johnny DuPlooy, to determine the initial holder of its heavyweight title in 1989, although all other sanctioning bodies of boxing recognized Mike Tyson as the heavyweight champion at the time. Damiani went on to win the initial WBO heavyweight title.
The WBO twice moved Darrin Morris up in its super-middleweight rankings in 2001, despite the fact that he was dead. Morris was #7 at the time of his death and #5 when the WBO discovered the error. Varcarcel said, "We obviously missed the fact that Darrin was dead. It is regrettable." Valcarcel also stated that other boxing sanctioning organizations had made similar errors in the past by continuing to rank another boxer after he was dead. One week after British newspaper The Independent broke the story, one of the three men ranking the boxers, Gordon Volkman, still had not heard that Morris was dead.
|Weight class:||Title holder:||Date won:|
|Mini flyweight||Donnie Nietes||September 30, 2007|
|Junior flyweight||Iván Calderón||August 25, 2007|
|Flyweight||Omar Andrés Narváez||July 13, 2002|
|Junior bantamweight||Jorge Arce||January 30, 2010|
|Bantamweight||Fernando Montiel||April 25, 2009|
|Junior featherweight||Wilfredo Vázquez Jr||February 27, 2010|
|Featherweight||Juan Manuel López||January 23, 2010|
|Junior lightweight||Román Martínez||September 6, 2008|
|Lightweight||Juan Manuel Márquez||February 28, 2009|
|Junior welterweight||Timothy Bradley||April 4, 2009|
|Welterweight||Manny Pacquiao||November 14, 2009|
|Junior middleweight||Sergiy Dzinziruk||December 3, 2005|
|Middleweight||Kelly Pavlik||September 29, 2007|
|Super middleweight||Robert Stieglitz||August 22, 2009|
|Light heavyweight||Jürgen Brähmer||November 13, 2009|
|Cruiserweight||Marco Huck||August 29, 2009|
|Heavyweight||Wladimir Klitschko||February 23, 2008|