The sport of professional boxing has a rich history that spans centuries and throughout its evolution, one aspect that has seen significant changes is the classification of fighters based on their weight. Weight classes in professional boxing have evolved to accommodate the diverse range of athletes in the sport, ensuring fair competition and safety. Read with Fight.TV, how weight classes in professional boxing have changed and what the newest weight classes that have emerged in recent years are.
The Early Days
In the early days of boxing, there were no weight classes. Fighters would often face opponents of vastly different sizes and weights, leading to unfair and dangerous matchups. This lack of regulation prompted the need for weight based categorization, ultimately giving birth to the concept of weight classes.
As regulations emerged in the sporting world that prioritized athletes longevity and safety, we saw combat sports introduce the main weight classes:
These weight classes brought order and fairness to the sport, ensuring that fighters competed against opponents with similar physical attributes. Over the years, these classes became the foundation for professional boxing, with minor adjustments and additions made along the way.
The Emergence of New Weight Classes
As the sport continued to evolve, the demand for more weight classes grew. In 1920, the light-heavyweight division was added, providing a bridge between the middleweight and heavyweight categories. In 1930, the junior lightweight and junior welterweight divisions were introduced, creating more opportunities for fighters in between existing weight classes.
In the 1960s, the welterweight division was further divided into two categories: welterweight and junior middleweight. This change allowed fighters who were too small for welterweight but too big for lightweight to compete in a more appropriate weight class.
The Newest Weight Classes
In recent years, the governing bodies of professional boxing, such as the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxing Federation (IBF), and World Boxing Organization (WBO), have introduced new weight classes to further refine the categorization of fighters. Some of the newest weight classes include:
Cruiserweight: Introduced in the late 1970s, the cruiserweight division bridges the gap between the light heavyweight and heavyweight classes. Fighters in this division typically weigh between 175 and 200 pounds.
Super Featherweight: Also known as junior lightweight, this division sits between featherweight and lightweight. Fighters in this class typically weigh between 126 and 130 pounds.
Super Middleweight: Introduced in the 1980s, this division falls between middleweight and light heavyweight, with fighters weighing between 160 and 168 pounds.
Minimumweight: This division, introduced in the 1980s, is for the smallest professional boxers, with a maximum weight of 105 pounds. It provides opportunities for fighters who may have been overlooked in the past.
Super Welterweight: Sometimes referred to as junior middleweight, this class bridges the gap between welterweight and middleweight, with fighters weighing between 147 and 154 pounds.
The evolution of weight classes in professional boxing reflects the sport's commitment to fairness, safety, and inclusivity. Over time, the introduction of new weight classes has allowed fighters of various sizes to compete on a level playing field. As the sport continues to grow and adapt, we can expect further refinements to the weight class system to accommodate the diverse range of athletes who make boxing a thrilling and dynamic sport.