How many weight categories are in boxing, and what is each called?
The body mass range and distribution among the various boxing weight categories that are recognized by the four major World Boxing federations.
During the pinnacle of early popularity on the brink between the 19th and the 20th century, boxing had only two simple weight classes. “Heavier weights,” anyone weighing above 160 lbs. and “lighter weights,” anyone below 160 lbs. From there comes the origin of the name Middleweight weight division because the 160 lbs. used to be the line that split heavier weights from lighter ones.
Ultimately, boxing grew and evolved, so the Marquess of Queensberry Rules became the official rules of modern boxing, and it was then decided to assemble the original eight weight classes. The origin of Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight is pretty straightforward, but below middleweight is where some imaginative consideration came into play.
A weight division in boxing represents a weight limit for boxers partaking in a fight. The official contests are usually organized for the fighters to compete in a specific weight class, intending to make the clash more evened out. The boxers must not surpass the limit of the specified weight class on the day of the official weigh-in, usually occurring one day before the fight.
Since 2020, the four central boxing-sanctioning bodies have recognized 17 weight divisions in professional boxing. The liberty to use distinct names for some divisions were left out to the different sanctioning bodies.
The official 17 weight divisions differ around the units used to define the weight limits in pounds (most commonly used in the US), kilograms (Europe and the rest of the world), and stones (widely used in the UK for human body weight) within which boxers can compete in.
The division was first introduced in 1968 at the Summer Olympics in Mexico as a light flyweight, with a weight limit of 105 lb / 47.63 kg. However, in professional boxing, the division is relatively young. Also known as the Strawweight, aka Mini Flyweight or Minimumweight, it was added as a professional weight class in 1987 and is named after the term “straw,” which means the least possible thing. The IBF sanctioned the first world minimum title fight between Kyung-Yun Lee and Masaharu Kawakami in June 1987.
Flyweight (112 lbs) was a new term when the weight class was created in 1909 and is presumably named after the insect—the smallest of boxing’s original glamour divisions and one that has produced many legendary champions. Flyweight was initially established in 1909 for the much lighter fighters of those times.
Super-flyweight has been around in boxing since the dawn of the 20th century but evolved and was more widely received among spectators in the 1980s.
Bantamweight (118 lbs) comes from “bantam,” a word from bantam chickens, which are miniature versions of different chicken breeds. The NSC officially ratified it in 1909 at the current 118 lb / 53.52 kg limit. The first title fight at bantamweight was decided between Chappie Moran and Tommy Kelly in New Jersey in 1988 when Tommy Kelly came out victorious in a 4-round points decision.
Known as junior-featherweight in boxing circles, this weight category was established in the 1920s and became more recognized in the 1970s, super-bantamweight has been host to many great champions, but the most famous ones are the Mexican boxers Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, who fought during the golden era of the super-bantamweight division.
Featherweight (126 lbs), like Welterweight, is a term from horse racing with the lightest weight a racehorse can carry. After a few changes in the official weight for this division finally, the NSC officially modified it back in America to 126 lb. The world’s first featherweight champion was Irishman Ike Weir, who defeated Frank Murphy on January 13, 1890, to gain featherweight honors.
This division was initially created by the New York Walker Law in 1920. However, some records state that it first appeared in Europe around 1914. The super-featherweight has held some illustrious names and champions like Alexis Arguello and Julio Cesar Chavez.
Lightweight (135 lbs) is self-explanatory. Jack Broughton, better known as the father of English boxing, introduced in the year 1738 the lightweight division, defining it as a weight class where a fighter weighing less than 160 lb / 72.57 was considered a lightweight. Later on, the original weight was changed to ten stone in 1889. The NSC finally set the division at the present weight limit of 135 lb / 61.23 kg in 1909.
In professional boxing, light Welterweight is contested between the lightweight and welterweight divisions, in which boxers weigh above 61.2kg or 135 pounds. Originally was founded around the 1920s and later became more recognized in the 1950s.
Welterweight (147 lbs) comes from horse racing and is used to describe a heavyweight horseback rider. The origins of the division trace back to England in 1889, when the created weight limit is believed to have been 145 lb / 65.77 kg. Officially it was founded in 1909 by the NSC at 147 lb / 66.68 kg and therefore accepted by the New York State Athletic Commission and National Boxing Association in 1920. American Paddy Duffy defeated Tom Meadows on March 29, 1889, and became what is believed to be the first welterweight champion of the world.
The light middleweight division (also known as a junior middleweight in the IBF or super welterweight in the WBA and WBC) is a weight division in professional boxing above 66.7 kg and up to 69.9 kg (147–154 lbs)
Yet another of the many historic boxing weight classes, middleweight dates back to the 1840s and has been home to some of the most prestigious names ever in the sport. The first middleweight fight with gloves is believed to be between George Fulljames and Jack (Nonpareil) Dempsey. In that sense, Jack Dempsey can be considered the inaugural world middleweight champion. After conquering Welterweight, Sugar Ray Robinson towered the middleweight division and secured his legacy as the greatest fighter in history.
The super-middleweight division has become well-known in modern-day boxing, but it only widely came to be recognized and adequately established in the 1960s. After legendary fighters ruled this division, like Roy Jones Jr, James Toney, and Joe Calzaghe, in more recent times, the Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez has become the undisputed ruler at super-middleweight while he leads boxing’s pound-for-pound rankings.
In the sport’s earlier days, light-heavyweight fighters were seen as not big enough to challenge at heavyweight, but many became all-time greats. Credit for creating the modern light heavyweight division goes to Chicago journalist and promoter Lou Houseman. He matched his fighter Jack Root against Kid McCoy for the inaugural light heavyweight championship, and Root ended up victorious while becoming the first light heavyweight champion of the world.
Cruiserweight (200 lbs) is a tweener division between Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight, and since it’s the second heaviest weight class, it was named after the second largest ship in a World War I fleet.
Boxing’s weight division with the most extensive popularity and prestige. The admiration of boxing fans is always on the heavyweights, and some of the most iconic fights and fighters have come from the heaviest weight class. When the heavyweight division is highly contested, the sport of boxing rises as a whole also. The inaugural heavyweight champion was legendary John L. Sullivan, who defeated Jim Corbett on September 7, 1892. The modern version of the title was first won in 1962 by Floyd Patterson as the WBA world heavyweight championship. The WBC sanctioned their first heavyweight world title fight the following year, the IBF in 1983, and the WBO in 1989. American boxer Joe Louis holds the longest title reign with 25 title defenses.
Boxing Weight Divisions