A boxing weight class describes the upper and lower limits of what an athlete can weigh when competing in certain competitions, such as fighting at the amateur or the professional level.
Boxing weight classes are different from other sports because boxers are only allowed to compete against fighters within their weight class.
It means that, regardless of how much you outweigh your opponent on fight night, if you’re both fighting in the same weight class, you must weigh no more than your upper limit and no less than your lower limit on fight night.
If you want to understand the sport, knowing these weight classes and how they work is crucial. Here’s everything you need to know about boxing weight classes.
For starters, check out this video explaining boxing fundamentals for beginners and professionals.
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Boxing Weight Classes Fundamentals
Weight classes are an important part of boxing. They ensure that opponents are evenly matched in size and strength, which makes for a fair fight.
In modern boxing, there are ten weight classes: Heavyweight, Light Heavyweight, Middleweight, Welterweight, Super Welterweight, Super Middleweight, Light Middleweight, Junior Middleweight and Featherweight.
Each of these divisions has a different maximum weight requirement.
For example, if you’re 170 pounds (77 kg), you would compete as a junior middleweight, while someone who weighs 100 pounds less than you would fight as a welterweight.
These weight requirements help to level the playing field between fighters competing in different weights because larger people have higher amounts of muscle mass and less body fat than smaller people.
But they also must meet their specific weight requirement or forfeit their fight!
The weight limit for professional boxers is 105 pounds, but there are other weight limits depending on the division.
For example, cruiserweights can weigh as much as 200 pounds, while flyweights can weigh no more than 112 pounds. But what does this all mean?
We break it down with a list of standard weight classes below:
- Flyweight (112 lbs)
- Lightweight (135 lbs)
- Welterweight (147 lbs)
- Super Welterweight (154 lbs)
- Middleweight (160 lbs)
- Super Middleweight (168 lbs)
- Light Heavyweight (175 lbs)
- Cruiserweight (200+lbs).
Some notable cruiserweights include Alexander Povetkin, David Haye, Marco Huck, Denis Lebedev, Evander Holyfield and James Toney.
- Heavyweight (225+lbs).
Some notable heavyweights include Wladimir Klitschko, Vitali Klitschko, Shannon Briggs and George Foreman. There are also super heavyweight categories for even larger competitors, such as those who fight at over 225 pounds.
And then there are unlimited weights, where anything goes!
Boxing Weight Classes: Heavyweights
The heavyweight class is reserved for the biggest and strongest fighters. This class has no weight limits, meaning that fighters can be any size.
The upper limit is generally 210 pounds (95 kg). The division was established in 1738 by Jack Broughton, with fighters weighing in at 160+ lbs, although there are no weight limits.
It is considered one of the most difficult classes to win due to its lack of a weight cap.
In modern boxing, only a few world-famous heavyweights have come close to beating the undefeated Russian fighter Fedor Emelianenko.
He weighs about 220 pounds (100 kg) and has won 37 out of 39 fights. Other famous boxers include Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Rocky Marciano.
Boxing Weight Classes: Lightweights
The featherweight division is the lightest weight class in boxing, which has an upper limit of 125 pounds (56.7 kg).
There are also junior featherweight (122 lb/55.3 kg), super featherweight (130 lb/59 kg), and lightweight (135 lb/61.2 kg) divisions.
Catchweight is a weight class that sits between two traditional weight classes and is usually about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) lighter than the upper limit of the lower weight class.
A typical catchweight for women would be 135-140 pounds (61.2-64 kg). For men, catchweight typically ranges from 140 to 160 pounds (64-73.6 kg). Fighters may have up to 20 pounds (9 kg) on either side of their natural weight class.
Boxing Weight Classes: Welterweights
The welterweight class is one of the original eight weight classes in boxing, dating back to the late 19th century.
The lower limit for welterweights was originally set at 140 pounds (63.5 kg) but was raised to 147 pounds (66.7 kg) in 1967. The upper limit is set at 154 pounds (69.9 kg).
Welterweights are generally tall and leaner than other boxers due to their natural size and lack of experience fighting at a heavier weight.
A catchweight fight can be either within or above the welterweight range – if it’s within, then the fight will be for a title only if both fighters are in that weight class; if it’s above, then there’s no such rule about a title being awarded.
Boxing Weight Classes: Middleweights
The middleweight class in boxing typically refers to fighters who weigh between 154 and 160 pounds.
The limit for welterweights is 147 pounds, while the upper limit for junior middleweights is 154 pounds. A fighter must weigh at least 160 pounds to be classified as a middleweight.
Catchweight bouts are sometimes contested between fighters in different weight classes when both competitors agree to meet at a weight that is not their normal fighting weight.
For example, a 140-pound boxer might fight someone weighing up to 190 pounds.
Catchweight fights may also be agreed upon due to an illness or injury sustained by one of the participants before an official bout can occur.
We have been talking about catchweight for a while now, but what does it mean?
What is Catchweight
In Boxing Weight Classes, Catchweight is used when two boxers of different weight classes agree to fight each other. The weight limit is usually between the limit of the two weight classes.
For example, if a heavyweight and a cruiserweight agree to fight, they may agree to do so at a catchweight of 190 pounds. Another way of looking at it is that a fighter agrees to fight in the other person’s weight class.
A potential drawback of this type of agreement is that one fighter will have an advantage over the other.
Some believe this type of agreement should be outlawed because it could result in mismatches. Others feel it should only be allowed with written consent from both fighters or their camps or on the undercard with no championship implications.
In some cases, such as when Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins agreed to a 150-pound catchweight for their rematch in 2004, it can work out well.
They had battled at 160 pounds previously, and Hopkins was up on points before De La Hoya caught him with a low blow which caused the stoppage after seven rounds.
Hopkins felt he would’ve won the fight but agreed to go down in weight for their second bout – which he won by split decision.
When asked about fighting at a catchweight, Hopkins said I’ll take it every time.
“It just shows you I’m willing to put my body through hell. If I gotta train twice as hard and eat half as much to make it work, then whatever.”
Many people also assume that if one boxer wants a catchweight, the other has to accept.
But this isn’t always true. Fighters often ask for more money from their opponent since they’re giving up weight; others demand additional media exposure since it takes more resources to train for a lighter opponent.
What is Rehydration Clause?
Frequently Asked Question About Rehydration Clause
- WHEN DOES THE WEIGH-IN TAKE PLACE: Fighters must weigh in before 8 pm on the night before the fight (8 pm Eastern Time).
- WHAT HAPPENS IF A FIGHTER IS UNDERWEIGHT ON THE DAY: If a fighter is underweight on the day of the fight, they will forfeit some percentage of their purse to their opponent. Usually, 20% will be taken from them and given to their opponent.
Boxing weight classes exist to create a level playing field between competitors of different sizes.
Each class’s upper and lower limits are determined by the average weight of adult men in that particular country. In between these limits, there is a bit of wiggle room for what’s known as a catchweight bout.
A catchweight bout is when two boxers agree to fight at a weight that falls outside the normal limits for their respective class. Generally, this happens when one boxer is significantly larger than their opponent.
For example, if an elite fighter weighs 165 pounds but their opponent only weighs 155 pounds, they may agree to have a catchweight fight where they both weigh 160 pounds.
Or, if an elite fighter weighs 140 pounds but their opponent only weighs 135 pounds, they may agree to have a catchweight fight where they both weigh 130 pounds.