Boxing’s Confusing Weight Divisions

By Karl Freitag

The idea for a 200-224lb bridgerweight division was proposed at the WBC virtual convention by famed fight agent Don Majeski. Other names considered were “dreadnought” and “juggernaut.”

The names of boxing’s weight divisions haven’t been universally agreed upon for a long time. The WBC and WBA use the “super” designation for the in-between divisions, while the IBF and WBO prefer “junior.”

The WBA, WBC and IBF all use “cruiserweight,” while the WBO calls it “junior heavyweight.” All four use “super middleweight.” As for the lightest weight division (105lb), the WBC calls it “strawweight,” the WBA calls it “minimumweight,” the IBF and WBO call it “mini-flyweight.”

For me, it seems kind of weird to have two full weight divisions between heavyweight and light heavyweight. Heavyweight and light heavyweight are connected, both by name and history.

Why not just change light heavyweight to 200-224lbs? The 175lb division, which has always been boxing’s unappreciated stepchild anyway, could simply be renamed light cruiserweight.

It’s not unprecedented to change a division’s weight. The cruiserweight limit was originally 190lbs.

Reconnecting heavyweight and light heavyweight makes sense, but all four sanctioning bodies have to be onboard. It would be a disaster if light heavyweight was 200-224lb for some and 168-175lb for others.

How’s this idea for blasphemous, out-of-the-box thinking? Did I one-up Don Majeski?

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  • Don’t use an actual person’s surname, that in itself will cause debates, arguments and problems. If there has to be a 200 to 224 stick to some combination name of ‘heavy’, ‘light’, ‘junior’ or whatever if there has to be such a division.

    • Henry
      The sole reason for adding another weight class is to have another four champions. I am sorry to see this hunger for money reach so low.
      Randy

  • They need to be illuminating divisions and belts. Not adding more. More nonsense that will not help grow the sport but will diminish its fanbase. What is the reasoning for this? Some of the best heavyweights were small.

  • No way, dont change the weight. You want the light heavyweight champion of the world in 2020 to weigh the same as the light heavyweight champion of the world in 1950. And 1980. And 2000.

    The upper limit of cruiserweight may have changed, but a cruiserweight in 1995 would still be a cruiserweight today.

  • This kind of division has been introduced a few times without much success over the years. This could work if you can get marquis matchups at that weight where it survives on the strength of the names of the fighters rather than the title itself. No ones going to give a shit if you have two random dudes with consanent deprived names fighting for the WBC Bridgewater Belt. Guys like Herbie Hide, Chris Byrd, Eddie Chambers, James Toney, Thomas Adamack and currently Micheal Hunter could have benefited from this kind of division instead of competing against 6-6 250 pounders.

  • Often the better/best ideas come from those without a financial interest in the results. From the initial read of your proposal your revision of light heavyweight makes much more sense. What I found was the nameless head of WBC makes these moves/changes often with “safety” as a core reason. But the fans are not dumb. It’s a financial reason why he wants to add another weightclass. As for having a limit of # pounds between Cruiser and heavy-that part makes sense. But I looked over the weightclasses in full, and it is VERY easy to remove about 4 of them. Starting at “strawweight/minimumweight/mini-flyweight” (take your pick-it’s 105 lbs.) Minimum weight is 105. Based on the “humans getting larger” theory to add “Bridgerweight” then it should ONLY be done if you remove 105 then every other weightclass up in the lower ones. Then you slide the limit of the remaining ones down a lb or so. I went over the #’s and the lbs between weightclasses would Be FAR LESS than the original gaps which were often about 12 lbs. I counted 4 weight classes that could be SAFELY removed. Then add the “Bridgerweight” and you have got boxing a little cleaner at 15 classes instead of 18!!! WBC is using “selective reasoning” because they and the other groups do not want to remove ANY weightclass that they can continue to have 1 or a handful of belt sanctioning fees on.
    If you had 15 classes instead of 18 you would A) still sufficient weight spacing plus the additional Bridgerweight. B) Even though it’s just a lb to 2lbs max weight class adjustments it would have less “paper champions” moving up 2-3 weight classes. That would occur but a little less on the lower weight classes. So at least people would recognize a titlist on weight classes they recognize and the titlist would have a few more title defenses. This would give more meaning to the “3 or 4” weight class champs who have very few title defenses before moving up. It takes so little time to fix this up but it feels as if most of the year the sanctioning bodies scheme up new ways to collect more revenue instead of doing good customer service for the fans like updating/improving websites on a timely basis and minimizing the garbage secondary titles (that also have very few “title defenses” before they are traded to a new fighter)
    The sanctioning bodies could go as far as to make a weight class for each POUND… 105, 106, 107, etc to 300lbs. That is a joke but so is having 2-3 lb increments on the lower weight classes 105/108/110/112/115/118. Those weight classes also have a much lower amount of professional fighters competing at them than most of the higher weight classes. The minimum weight class per boxrec as of today only has 265 fighters in the world! I randomly selected a classic weightclass in welter for comparison. Welterweight has 2,326!!!
    All titles mean something to someone and some parents think all kids should get a trophy but being a welterweight champ if you ask in this world means a little something more than the minimumweight champ. Check each month on lb for lb lists the past 20 years and that data would agree. So what’s the answer if you want to be CONSISTENT and not just using that selective reasoning to pad your bulging pockets? Remove about 4 of those weight divisions. I had targeted 3 of the lower 6-7 for removal and 4th that could be removed higher up towards the middle weight classes. Light flyweight has only 465 fighters. So if all current fighters merged in the 2 lower classes then you would still have “only” 730 fighters but that would be closer to many weightclasses. The next 2 weight classes have about 750 fighters each so combined it would also be a division with a “regular” amount of fighters. And anyone thinking that is “too much competition” well, let’s not forget there are 4 belts per weightclass.
    4 “MAIN” belts.
    The sanctioning bodies will tell you they “CARE” but that is for their pockets more than the overall quality of what it means to be the champion. Fans can say something. Fighters have to deal with making enough money to not starve, feed families if they have them, and hope that they have the right promoter to get fights at all. They can’t usually speak up unless they have a ton of money and leverage themselves. And if a rebuttal states that extra belts many “more fighters get good paydays” well that’s garbage. Because dissolving the meaning of those belts means less fan interest, less interest means less box office, less box office means lesser aounts promoters bid on fights. Lesser bids on fights mean the sanctioning fees to the org are lower. Lower sanctioning fees mean either over time the fee %’s charged go up and/or more “belts” are manufactured to have more sanctioning revenue around the world even if the fights are smaller and less people know who the fighters are. There are many comparisons in the world with taxation and the net pay and quality of life for the fighters per capita. So lose some divisions, make the champs mean more, and every mandatory/title defense and unification fight for a champ will MEAN SOMETHING.
    All with a SAFE spacing between weight classes?
    The sanctioning bodies know all this but avoid the reality that fans know this but hope that we will all remain silent.
    Instead of GROWING the weight classes do some cleanup with that new division. Otherwise we we will never believe that your sanctioning body “cares”. The fans are the focus group you won’t listen to, but you will still hope they show up to pack arenas pre/post covid so that you get your FAT CHECKS. Make a real change.

    • Wow, what a thoughtful long post! Good job! You are correct in one thing, the fans are an important tool in keeping boxing alive. Our input to the sport can help to mold its longevity and even attract more fans to join in the fun. Don’t get me wrong, we need fighters, promoters, etc. that make up the sport. However, there is nothing wrong in seeking input from fans either especially if it’s to improve the outcome for fighters.

    • Good ideas but fifteen weight classes still too many for the sports fans that you need to get back to make boxing mainstream again. Eight weight classes with one organization would go a long ways to returning to the days when championship fights were major sporting events and heavyweight championship fights were like a super bowl. Glad to have lived through the era when that was the case and feel sorry for the boxing fans today who love a sport which has become a sideshow to most. Of course the downside of living through those days is that you have to be old.

      • Funny but true. Didn’t take a NASA scientist to look at boxing and say that is a model NOT to do. All you got to look at is the UFC model. Best vs the best–1 belt per division and weight classes that are reasonable. Presto—within a decade they are now the leader in combat sports entertainment.

    • Redo the nonsense weight classes they have now, with, as u say, 2 or 3 pounds difference in the lighter weights, and light heavyweight having a ridiculous 7 pound parameter, 168-175, while the next one up, cruiserweight jumps to 25 pound parameters! Then in heavyweight men weighing a little over 200 really have no fair place in boxing as they have to compete with the giants.

      Do it logically and scientifica;lly with percentage increments, 10 or 12% increases, whatever, and then there will be less weight classes but they will be more fair.

      And you don’t name weight classes after people. That’s ridiculous.

  • If I can set this madness aside for just a second –as difficult as it surely is — as someone else mentioned, this would be a pretty good stop for someone like Michael Hunter. He appears to be headed towards an Hrgovic fight and if he wins that it would be difficult to imagine him dropping in weight, but I think he’d do excellent in that division along with, obviously, Usyk.

  • 200 plus is heavyweight. A 200 pound man should have doped advantage over somebody say 275 pounds. So it equals out. Anybody 200 pounds plus has plenty of power to hurt any other fighter. Maybe if there were humans over 400 pounds it would make sense. But size and speed variations are exactly what makes heavyweight fights interesting. Who will win out the faster guy or the more powerful guy.

  • There are very few HW fighters compared to lighter weight divisions. No way do we need another division above JR HW.

    HW Boxing is not a sought after sport as most HW sized athletic young men in the USA (who were not major JDs like Mike Tyson) will always try basketball or football for a scholarship and wind up in boxing after knee injury etc. or after military service.

  • Yes exactly. These stupid organizations want more money. They need to continue paying themselves to fly all over the world for free to see the best fights. To also continue with the annual meetings in other countries where all food, air fare, hotel and entertainment is paid for. Also so we can take care of their children and send them all to the best private schools in their countries.

  • Less divisions not more. 5 max
    Light weight
    welter weight
    middle wight (see its in the middle)
    Light heavy weight
    Heavyweight

  • If the WBC needs money, then maybe they should stop creating these Aztec/Huichol/Mayan/Incan special belts instead of creating these new ridiculous weight classes.

  • What a pile of garbage from the ridiculous name straight through to the reasoning for such a division. A bunch of bar stool drunks would have greater respect for the sport.

  • I’ve been campaigning for at least one more heavy weight class for years, but this is not the right name for it. You don’t name weight classes after people. It could be called heavyweight and superheavyweight just like in the amateurs.

    But really the whole antiquated weight classification system should be revamped

    Logically and scientifically by percentage increments. Not haphazardly with 2 or 3 pounds separating the light weight classes, or 7 pounds for light heavy (168-175), and then jump to 25, 50, 100, unlimited for heavies.

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