From Miniflyweights To Heavyweights: Boxing Weight Classes

May 16, 2024
Guides

Boxing weight classes refer to the division of fighters by their weight into several groups. Due to this, athletes meet with opponents of similar or the same parameters, speed, and impact force. Weight classes protect boxers from excessive damage and guarantee fair fights. But it wasn’t always like that.

Why Did Weight Classes Become Necessary?

At the dawn of boxing, there was no weight division. Nor were there any boxing gloves, headgears, shorts, or even a ring. In the beginning, two men—whatever their weight and age—went up against each other and threw punches until one won. Yes, in its infancy, boxing was not just an aggressive sport, a ferocious rather, with fights taking hours and fighters fainting. And no one thought about categorizing fighters of different weights.

In the 19th century, viewers and competition organizers noticed that bigger fighters won more often. Here is why. Heavyweights are usually taller and have a lot of muscle mass. From general physics, we know that the force of impact depends on mass and acceleration. Thus, the impact force of an adult male weighing 102 kg—how many pounds? 224.8 lbs—is much greater than that of a fighter weighing 75 kg (165 lbs) at the same speed.

So, it was decided to divide sportsmen into classes.

Professional Boxing Classes

The first classes appeared among the pros. We have 17 weight categories and 4 major boxing associations—the World Boxing Council (WBC), the World Boxing Association (WBA), the World Boxing Organization (WBO), and the International Boxing Federation (IBF). The weight classes of all organizations are unified. 

Weight Class Weight, kg (lbs)
Miniflyweight < 47,627 (105)
Light Flyweight < 48,988 (108)
Flyweight < 50,802 (112)
Super Flyweight < 52,163 (115)
Bantamweight < 53,525 (118)
Super Bantamweight < 55,225 (122)
Featherweight < 57,153 (126)
Super Featherweight < 58,967 (130)
Lightweight < 61,235 (135)
Super Lightweight < 63,503 (140)
Welterweight < 66,678 (147)
Super Welterweight < 69,85 (154)
Middleweight < 72,574 (160)
Super Middleweight < 76,203 (168)
Light Heavyweight < 79,378 (175)
Cruiserweight < 79,378 (175)
Heavyweight > 90,718 (200)

There is a world champion in each of the 17 classes, within 4 organizations, 68 world champions in total. Besides, a less popular organization can also award the champion’s belt. If an athlete receives the title of champion in all 4 versions of a category, they become the absolute world champion.

Amateur Boxing Classes

Among amateur athletes, fights are held taking into account the requirements of the (amateur) International Boxing Association (AIBA):

  • Juniors, teens at the age of 16;
  • Youth, teens from 17 to 19 years old;
  • Elite, people from 19 to 40 years old.

In addition to this classification, youth and elite athletes are divided by body weight:

Men, kg (lb) Weight Class Women, kg (lb)
46–48 (101.4–105.8) Pinweight 45–47.5 (99.2–104.7)
Light Flyweight 50 (110.2)
51 (112.4) Flyweight 52.5 (115.7)
54 (119.0) Bantamweight 55 (121.3)
57 (125.7) Featherweight 57.5 (126.8)
60 (132.3) Lightweight 60 (132.3)
63.5 (140.0) Light Welterweight 63 (138.9)
67 (147.7) Welterweight 66 (145.5)
71 (156.5) Light Middleweight 70 (154.3)
75 (165.3) Middleweight 75 (165.3)
80 (176.4) Light Heavyweight 81 (178.6)
86 (189.6) Cruiserweight
92 (202.8) Heavyweight Unlimited
Unlimited Super Heavyweight

It is mandatory to comply with the AIBA requirements because a boxer’s weight often affects the choice of gloves for a fight. In the association’s regulations, there is a separate paragraph describing the size of gloves suitable for a particular boxing match. For example, you can find information that fighters up to the welterweight class—63.5 kilos, or 140 pounds—must use ten-ounce gloves. Bigger athletes can wear accessories from twelve ounces. As for women of all ages and junior males from 15 to 16 years old, they should wear gloves up to ten ounces.

How Do Weigh-Ins Occur?

Only licensed sportsmen can participate in weigh-ins. To determine the athlete’s body weight, different types of scales are used, including electronic ones. Their performance and accuracy are tested before the procedure.

During the weigh-in, an athlete can stand on the scales only once to record their weight. Men must be naked or in underwear. For women, it is allowed to weigh in a T-shirt or underwear.

Professionals

Professional boxers can get on scales 24 hours before the fight, and no later than 8 hours before it starts. Here, weight is measured in pounds. If the weight does not fit into a particular class, an athlete has a couple of hours to get in shape. If there are no changes during this time, the bout can still take place. But the sportsman cannot increase their rankings, should they win. 

Amateurs

In amateur boxing, every athlete must weigh in before the tournament and on the day of the competition. Competitions in amateur sports are subject to AIBA rules. The weight is measured in kilograms. If the weight of an amateur boxer fits a weight class, they are assigned to a specific weight class. Otherwise, they are not allowed to compete.

Weight Class: Training and Diet

Training and nutrition are crucial components in optimizing the performance of an amateur and professional boxer. Yet, sportsmen in different classes should pay more attention to different aspects. 

General Training Plan

Lightweight and below should focus on speed, agility, and endurance. Their training should emphasize quick footwork, rapid combinations, and superior cardio conditioning.

Welterweight and middleweight boxers should balance strength and speed, thus incorporating a mix of explosive power training with longer cardio sessions. They should concentrate on building muscles while maintaining agility.

Light heavyweight and heavyweights should accentuate strength and power. Their training should include heavy lifting to build muscle mass and raw power. Cardiovascular conditioning is still important but may involve longer, steady-state sessions rather than high-intensity intervals.

Basic Nutritional Guidelines

Caloric needs will depend on the weight class, training intensity, and metabolic rate. Lighter weight classes may require fewer calories to maintain weight, while heavier ones may need more to sustain muscle mass and energy levels.

Sportsmen should aim for a balanced diet comprising carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Carbohydrates provide energy for training sessions, proteins support muscle repair and growth, and fats affect hormone regulation and overall health.

Smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day can keep energy levels and support recovery. Consuming a meal or snack with carbs and proteins about 1–2 hours before training sessions will fuel workouts adequately.

We should not forget about water. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, especially before, during, and after training, is essential. Dehydration can impair performance and recovery.

If you need to make weight for a fight, work closely with a nutritionist to ensure everything goes healthily. Extreme weight cuts can negatively impact performance and health. So can clueless weight gains. Individual factors such as genetics, age, and personal preferences will also influence training and nutrition needs. It’s critical to listen to your body, work closely with qualified professionals, and adjust your regimen to level up performance and health. 

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