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How Do Weight Classes Work In Boxing?

Learn everything you need to know about weight classes and divisions in boxing, the importance of weigh-ins and how catchweights ensure a level playing field.

To the uninitiated, the enormous array of weight classes in boxing can quite easily leave you feeling a little lost. 

If you don’t know the difference between your heavyweights, flyweights and bantamweights, you’re in the right place. Here we’ll demystify weight classes and tell you everything you need to know. 

What Are Weight Classes? 

We use weight classes in boxing to classify different weights of boxers. The idea of weight classes is to ensure a level playing field and fair competition between boxers who are of different weights, heights and ages. 

In each of the weight classes or divisions (as they’re sometimes called), there are upper and lower limits, except of course the heavyweight division where there is no upper limit. Generally, older boxers are more likely to move up the weight classes due to the higher levels of bone density and muscle mass that comes with age. 

Across the weight classes, you’ll find classic divisions such as heavyweight, alongside more recent additions like welterweight which are often referred to as ‘tweener’ divisions as they sit between the older, more established classes. 

Introducing The Weight Classes 

Currently there are 18 weight classes used across professional boxing. They start from the lowest, strawweight at 105lbs, rising up to heavyweight at 200lbs. Here’s the full list: 

  • Strawweight (105lbs) 
  • Light flyweight (105-108lbs) 
  • Flyweight (108-112lbs) 
  • Super flyweight (112-115lbs) 
  • Bantamweight (115-118lbs) 
  • Super bantamweight (118-122lbs) 
  • Featherweight (122-126lbs) 
  • Super featherweight (126-130lbs) 
  • Lightweight (130-135lbs) 
  • Light welterweight 135-140lbs) 
  • Welterweight (140-147lbs) 
  • Light middleweight (147-154lbs) 
  • Middleweight (154-160lbs) 
  • Super middleweight (160-168lbs) 
  • Light heavyweight (168-175lbs) 
  • Cruiserweight (175-200lbs) 
  • Bridgerweight (200-224lbs) 
  • Heavyweight (200lbs or more) 

All About Weigh-Ins 

To ensure boxers fit in their weight class, weigh-ins take place the day before a fight. The two competitors set to face each other in a fight are weighed at the same time, ensuring their weight is not over a pre-arranged limit. 

These limits include the weight classes outlined previously, but also catchweights, which allow an agreement to be made between fighters to allow them to fight at unconventional weight limits. Catchweights are invoked in cases where boxers may not be willing to gain or lose weight to meet a more traditional weight class. 

Weight limits are serious business, as they can heavily influence the outcome of a fight. A lower weight class for a heavier boxer could make things easier for them, so competitors often go to extreme lengths to lose weight in an effort to meet the limit. Some boxers even insist upon being weighed naked to reduce the influence of clothing upon their weight! And more commonly boxers will dehydrate themselves to reduce their weight through water loss, but this is often frowned upon due to the obvious health risks, and the potential for it to lead to an unfair advantage. 

Time To Get On The Scales 

The unfamiliar terminology used to describe weight classes can often make them seem far more complicated than they really are. Simply put, weight classes offer boxers a reliable method to categorise competitors to ensure a fair and level playing field for all. 

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