A weight class is a measurement weight range for boxers. The lower limit of a weight class is equal to the upper weight limit of the class below it. The top class, with no upper limit, is called heavyweight in professional boxing and super heavyweight in amateur boxing. A boxing match is usually scheduled for a fixed weight class, and each boxer's weight must not exceed the upper limit. Although professional boxers may fight above their weight class, an amateur boxer's weight must not fall below the lower limit. A nonstandard weight limit is called a catchweight.
A professional boxer usually weighs more between fights than at the time of a fight. Part of the process of training for a bout is "getting down to fighting weight". The weigh-in takes place the day before the fight. Boxers typically stand on the scales barefoot and without gloves. The weigh-in is often a photo opportunity and boxers or their entourage may trash talk each other. This element is such a valued part of the build-up that even heavyweight boxers go through the ritual of being weighed despite the fact there is no limit to be measured against.
A boxer who is over the weight limit may strip naked to make the weight if the excess is minimal; otherwise, in a professional bout, one can try again later, typically after losing weight in the interim through dehydration by vigorous exercise in a steam room. If the excess weight is too great, the effort expended trying to "make weight" will make the boxer unfit for the fight itself. In such cases the fight may be cancelled with the over-weight boxer sanctioned or the fight may proceed as a catchweight non-title fight.
The International Boxing Federation (IBF) has a unique weigh-in policy in title fights. In addition to making the weight at the official weigh-in the day before the fight, the boxers are required to submit to a weight check on the morning of the fight. During this later weigh-in, the fighter must weigh no more than 10 pounds (4.5 kg) above the weight limit for the fight. If a boxer skips the morning weigh-in, or fails to make weight at that time, the fight can still proceed, but the IBF title will not be at stake. In heavyweight title fights, the second weigh-in is still mandatory, but since there is no upper weight limit in that class, a boxer can only be sanctioned for failing to submit to the weigh-in.
An amateur boxer must make the weight at the initial weigh-in; there is no opportunity to try again later. There is a "general weigh-in" before the start of the tournament and a "daily weigh-in" on the morning of each of a fighter's bouts. At the general weigh-in, the fighter must be between the weight class's upper and lower limits; at the daily weigh-in only the upper limit is enforced. A fighter outside the limit at the initial weigh-in may be allowed to fight in a different class if there is space in the tournament. At major events such as boxing at the Olympics, there is a limit of one boxer per country per weight class.
A boxer may fight different bouts at different weight classes. The trend for professionals is to move up to a higher class as they age. Winning titles at multiple weight classes to become a "multiple champion" is considered a major achievement. In amateur boxing, bouts are much shorter and much more frequent, and boxers fight at their "natural" weight.
One boxer is said to be better "pound for pound" than another if he is considered superior with due regard for their difference in weight. Theoretical comparisons of the merits of boxers in different weight classes are a popular topic for boxing fans, with a similar speculative appeal to comparing sports figures from different eras; in both cases, the competitors could never face each other in reality.
In the early nineteenth century, there were no standard weight classes. In 1823, the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue said the limit for a "light weight" was 12 stone (168 lb, 76.2 kg) while Sportsman's Slang the same year gave 11 stone (154 lb, 69.9 kg) as the limit.
Size mismatches were dangerous for the smaller boxer and unsatisfying for the spectators. National and world titles could only become recognised if standard weight classes were agreed upon. Important sets of weight classes were those specified in 1909 by the National Sporting Club of London, and those contained in the 1920 Walker Law which established the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC).
After the split in the 1960s between the WBC and the WBA, the divisions were narrowed, creating more champions simultaneously, and making it easier for fighters to move between different weight divisions. Among the professional bodies, the names of the new divisions are not standardized between different sanctioning bodies, although the cutoff weights are. These weights are specified in pounds, reflecting the historic dominance of Britain (and, later, America) in the sport.
Boxing has its own "Original Eight" weight divisions, also known as the "traditional", "classic" or "glamour" divisions. These divisions are the most prominent and widely recognized weight divisions in boxing. Manny Pacquiao has won world championships in the greatest number of the glamour divisions, winning championships in the flyweight, featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight divisions.
|Heavyweight||200+ lbs||160+ lbs in 1738 by Broughton's Rules; 175+ lbs in 1920 by Walker Law; 190+ lbs in 1979 and finally 200+ lbs|
|Light heavyweight||168–175 lbs||175 lbs in 1909 by National Sporting Club of London (NSC)|
|Middleweight||154–160 lbs||Fights dating back to 1840s; established officially at 160 lbs in 1909 by NSC|
|Welterweight||140–147 lbs||145 lbs in 1889; established officially at 147 lbs in 1909 by NSC|
|Lightweight||130–135 lbs||160 lbs in 1738 by Broughton's Rules; 140 lbs in 1889; established officially at 135 lbs in 1909 by NSC|
|Featherweight||122–126 lbs||118 lbs in 1860 by London Prize Ring Rules; 110 and 115 lbs in 1889; Official at 126 lbs in 1909 by NSC|
|Bantamweight||115–118 lbs||105 lbs in 1860 by London Prize Ring Rules; 116 lbs in 1898; 118 lbs in 1909 by NSC; Official at 118 lbs in 1920 by Walker Law|
|Flyweight||108–112 lbs||112 lbs in 1909 by NSC and standardized in 1920 by Walker Law|
The newcomer weight divisions or "tweener divisions", mostly recognized with either a "super", "light" or "junior" in front of their names, took many years to be fully recognized as legitimate weight divisions in boxing. Manny Pacquiao has won world championships in four of these divisions; super bantamweight, super featherweight, super lightweight and super welterweight.
|Cruiserweight||175–200 lbs||190 lbs in 1979; changed to 200 lbs in 2003|
|Super middleweight||160–168 lbs||Established and recognized in 1967 - 1988|
|Light middleweight||147–154 lbs||Established in 1920 by Walker Law; recognized in 1962|
|Light welterweight||135–140 lbs||Established officially at 140 lbs in 1920 by Walker Law; recognized in 1959|
|Super featherweight||126–130 lbs||Established at 130 lbs in 1920 by Walker Law; recognized in 1959|
|Super bantamweight||118–122 lbs||Established at 122 lbs in 1920 by Walker Law; recognized in 1976|
|Super flyweight||112–115 lbs||Established at 115 lbs in 1920 by Walker Law; recognized in 1980|
|Light flyweight||105–108 lbs||Established at 108 in 1920 by Walker Law; recognized in 1975|
|Strawweight||105 lbs||Recognized in 1987|
A nonstandard weight limit is called a catchweight. A catchweight may be agreed to for an individual bout—sometimes even for a championship bout—but championships are awarded only at the standard weight classes. For example, when Manny Pacquiao fought Antonio Margarito at a catch-weight of 150 pounds, the World Boxing Council sanctioned this as a title fight for jr. middleweight, whose limit is 154 pounds.
This table gives names and limits recognised by the four widely regarded sanctioning bodies (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO), the label used in Boxrec.com's data, and by the magazines The Ring and Boxing News.
The date is that since which a continuous world title has been recognised by a major sanctioning body; some classes had earlier champions recognised intermittently or by minor bodies. One current weight class with only minor recognition is "super-cruiserweight"; widely used as an informal descriptor, it is a formal weight class of the lightly regarded (professional) International Boxing Association at a limit of 210 lb; the IBA's cruiserweight limit is 190 lb.
|Weight limit||WBA||WBC||IBF||WBO||BoxRec||The Ring|
|1980||200 lb||90.72 kg||14 st 4||Cruiserweight||Cruiserweight||Cruiserweight||Junior heavyweight||Cruiserweight||Cruiserweight|
|1913||175 lb||79.38 kg||12 st 7||Light heavyweight||Light heavyweight||Light heavyweight||Light heavyweight||Light heavyweight||Light heavyweight|
|1984||168 lb||76.2 kg||12 st||Super middleweight||Super middleweight||Super middleweight||Super middleweight||Super middleweight||Super middleweight|
|1884||160 lb||72.57 kg||11 st 6||Middleweight||Middleweight||Middleweight||Middleweight||Middleweight||Middleweight|
|1962||154 lb||69.85 kg||11 st||Super welterweight||Super welterweight||Junior middleweight||Junior middleweight||Super welterweight||Junior middleweight|
|1914||147 lb||66.68 kg||10 st 7||Welterweight||Welterweight||Welterweight||Welterweight||Welterweight||Welterweight|
|1959||140 lb||63.5 kg||10 st||Super lightweight||Super lightweight||Junior welterweight||Junior welterweight||Super lightweight||Junior welterweight|
|1886||135 lb||61.23 kg||9 st 9||Lightweight||Lightweight||Lightweight||Lightweight||Lightweight||Lightweight|
|1959||130 lb||58.97 kg||9 st 4||Super featherweight||Super featherweight||Junior lightweight||Junior lightweight||Super featherweight||Junior lightweight|
|1889||126 lb||57.15 kg||9 st||Featherweight||Featherweight||Featherweight||Featherweight||Featherweight||Featherweight|
|1976||122 lb||55.34 kg||8 st 10||Super bantamweight||Super bantamweight||Junior featherweight||Junior featherweight||Super bantamweight||Junior featherweight|
|1894||118 lb||53.52 kg||8 st 6||Bantamweight||Bantamweight||Bantamweight||Bantamweight||Bantamweight||Bantamweight|
|1980||115 lb||52.16 kg||8 st 3||Super flyweight||Super flyweight||Junior bantamweight||Junior bantamweight||Super flyweight||Junior bantamweight|
|1911||112 lb||50.8 kg||8 st||Flyweight||Flyweight||Flyweight||Flyweight||Flyweight||Flyweight|
|1975||108 lb||48.99 kg||7 st 10||Light flyweight||Light flyweight||Junior flyweight||Junior flyweight||Light flyweight||Junior flyweight|
|1987||105 lb||47.63 kg||7 st 7||Minimumweight||Minimumweight||Mini flyweight||Mini flyweight||Minimumweight||Strawweight|
|2007||102 lb||46.27 kg||7 st 4||Light minimumweight||Atomweight||Atomweight||Atomweight||–||–|
When the (amateur) International Boxing Association (AIBA) was founded in 1946 to govern amateur boxing, it metricated the weight class limits by rounding them to the nearest kilogram. Subsequent alterations as outlined in the boxing at the Summer Olympics article; these have introduced further discrepancies between amateur and professional class limits and names. The lower weight classes are to be adjusted in September 2010, to establish an absolute minimum weight for adult boxers.
Amateur weight classes also specify the minimum weight (which the same as the maximum weight of the next highest class). For safety reasons, fighters cannot fight at a higher weight. This also meant that even the heaviest weight class has a limit, albeit a lower bound. The lower limit for "heavyweight" was established in 1948 at 81 kg. When a new limit of 91+ kg was established in 1984, the name "heavyweight" was kept by the 81+ kg class, and the 91+ kg class was named "super heavyweight", a name not currently used in professional boxing.
Classes are as follows:
|Class name||Weight class limit (kg/lbs)|
|Heavyweight||91 kg (200.6 lb; 14.3 st)||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Light heavyweight||81 kg (178.6 lb; 12.8 st)||81 kg (178.6 lb; 12.8 st)||80 kg (176.4 lb; 12.6 st)|
|Middleweight||75 kg (165.3 lb; 11.8 st)||75 kg (165.3 lb; 11.8 st)||74 kg (163.1 lb; 11.7 st)|
|Light middleweight||—||69 kg (152.1 lb; 10.9 st)||70 kg (154.3 lb; 11.0 st)|
|Welterweight||69 kg (152.1 lb; 10.9 st)||64 kg (141.1 lb; 10.1 st)||66 kg (145.5 lb; 10.4 st)|
|Light welterweight||64 kg (141.1 lb; 10.1 st)||—||63 kg (138.9 lb; 9.9 st)|
|Lightweight||60 kg (132.3 lb; 9.4 st)||60 kg (132.3 lb; 9.4 st)||60 kg (132.3 lb; 9.4 st)|
|Featherweight||—||57 kg (125.7 lb; 9.0 st)||57 kg (125.7 lb; 9.0 st)|
|Bantamweight||56 kg (123.5 lb; 8.8 st)||54 kg (119.0 lb; 8.5 st)||54 kg (119.0 lb; 8.5 st)|
|Light bantamweight||—||—||52 kg (114.6 lb; 8.2 st)|
|Flyweight||52 kg (114.6 lb; 8.2 st)||51 kg (112.4 lb; 8.0 st)||50 kg (110.2 lb; 7.9 st)|
|Light flyweight||49 kg (108.0 lb; 7.7 st)||48 kg (105.8 lb; 7.6 st)||48 kg (105.8 lb; 7.6 st)|
|Pinweight||—||—||46 kg (101.4 lb; 7.2 st)|
At the Olympics, each weight-class is a separate single-elimination tournament. The competition begins with the first round of the lightest weight class and proceeds with the first round of each higher weight class; then the next round of the lightest class, and so on, with the finals of each class held over the final two days, and the super-heavyweight final last of all.
- Kickboxing weight classes
- Mixed martial arts weight classes
- Taekwondo weight classes
- Professional wrestling weight classes
- Wrestling weight classes
- AIBA, Technical & Competition Rules, §1.2 & Appendix K
- "Weigh-In Ceremonies" (PDF). Rules for IBF, USBA & Intercontinental Championship and Elimination Bouts. International Boxing Federation/United States Boxing Association. April 2, 2014. pp. 5–6. Retrieved February 10, 2018.
- Rafael, Dan (2017-03-18). "Daniel Jacobs blows off weight check, can't win IBF title vs. Gennady Golovkin". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2017-03-18.
- AIBA, Technical & Competition Rules, §6.1
- AIBA, Technical & Competition Rules, §5.1
- AIBA, Technical & Competition Rules, §6
- AIBA, Technical & Competition Rules, §2.2
- Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. "light weight".
- Kelsey McCarson (December 1, 2017). "Breaking Down Each Boxing Weight Class". BleacherReport.
- "Weight Divisions History & Guide". Pro Boxing-fans.
- Guzman, Francisco (13 November 2009). "Miguel Cotto ready to put out his fire power". BraggingRightsCorner. Archived from the original on 13 March 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
Pacquiao is also given the chance to fight for the WBO welterweight title despite the catchweight issue.
- ESPN - Reigning Champions - Boxing
- Men's champions Archived 2010-01-10 at the Wayback Machine International Boxing Association
- AIBA, Terminology for Weight Categories and Weight Range, Appendix K, page 63
- AIBA, Technical & Competition Rules, §7.6
- "Technical & Competition Rules; Effective from March 24, 2011" (PDF). AIBA. March 24, 2011. Retrieved April 21, 2011.
- "boxing weight classes". Archived from the original on 2013-05-31. Retrieved 2013-04-15.