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Weight Classes in Boxing: Divisions, History, Biggest Names

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Weight Classes in Boxing: Divisions, History, Biggest Names

Grasping the concept of weight classes in boxing is essential for understanding the dynamics of the sport.

Weight classes are a fundamental element of competitive boxing that categorizes fighters based on their respective weights. These divisions play a pivotal role in ensuring equitable matchups by pitting boxers of comparable stature, height, and age against one another.

Weight classes exist because boxing matches are seen as more fair when the fighters are similar in size. This helps reduce any advantages that come from one boxer being physically bigger than the other. Boxing officials put fighters into different weight groups to make sure the fights are balanced, and the sport stays fair and honest.

We will explore the nuances of weight classes in boxing in this write-up. Tag along if you want to learn more about this essential organizational aspect of professional boxing.

What Are All the Weight Classes in Boxing?

Right now, men's professional boxing has 17 different weight classes, starting from strawweight (105 lbs) all the way up to heavyweight (200+ lbs). They are as follows:

  • Strawweight 
  • Light Flyweight 
  • Flyweight 
  • Super Flyweight 
  • Bantamweight 
  • Super Bantamweight 
  • Featherweight 
  • Super Featherweight 
  • Lightweight 
  • Light Welterweight
  • Welterweight 
  • Light Middleweight 
  • Middleweight 
  • Super Middleweight 
  • Light Heavyweight 
  • Cruiserweight 
  • Bridgerweight 
  • Heavyweight 

Now, let’s find out a bit more about each of these weight classes in boxing.

Strawweight

Boxers competing in the minimumweight, aka strawweight division, must weigh in at no more than 105 pounds (48 kg). This weight class is a fairly recent addition to professional boxing, established by major boxing-sanctioning bodies between 1987 and 1990. 

Notable boxers in strawweight division: Oscar Collazo, Ginjiro Shigeoka, Yudai Shigeoka.

Light Flyweight

Light Flyweight division imposes a weight limit of 108 pounds (49 kilograms) for its competitors. Franco Udella was the first champion in this weight class, capturing the WBC title in 1975.

Notable boxers in light flyweight division: Kenshiro Teraji, Jonathan González, Adrian Curiel.

Flyweight

Flyweight boxers typically weigh between 49 kg (108 lb) and 51 kg (112 lb). Interestingly, the flyweight division was the final of boxing's eight traditional weight classes to be introduced.

Notable boxers in the flyweight division: Seigo Yuri Akui, Julio Cesar Martinez, Jesse Rodriguez.

Super Flyweight 

Super flyweight fights typically occur between 112 pounds (51 kg) and 115 pounds (52 kg). The first championship match in this weight class took place in 1980.

Notable boxers in the super flyweight division: Kazuto Ioka, Juan Francisco Estrada, Román González.

weight classes in boxing

Bantamweight

Bantamweight boxers fall within the weight range of 115 lb (52.2 kg) to 118 lb (53.5 kg). This weight class gets its name from bantam chickens.

Notable boxers in the bantamweight division: Jason Moloney, Emmanuel Rodríguez, Alexandro Santiago.

Super Bantamweight

Super bantamweight bouts feature fighters weighing from 118 pounds (54 kg) to 122 pounds (55 kg). Naoya Inoue achieved a significant milestone on December 26, 2023, becoming this weight class's inaugural and sole undisputed champion.

Notable boxers in the super bantamweight division: Naoya Inoue, Stephen Fulton, Marlon Tapales.

Featherweight

The featherweight division sits between bantamweight and lightweight weight classes in boxing. Boxers competing in this class must weigh no more than 126 pounds (57 kg). During the early years of the division, this weight requirement varied.

Notable boxers in the featherweight division: Leigh Wood, Luis Alberto Lopez, Rey Vargas.

Super Featherweight

Competitors in the super featherweight category face-off between 126 pounds (57 kg) and 130 pounds (59 kg). This weight class went extinct in 1933 following its inception in 1921 before reemerging in 1960. 

Notable boxers in the super featherweight division: Emanuel Navarrete, O'Shaquie Foster, Joe Cordina.

Lightweight

In the lightweight division, fighters weigh between 130 pounds (59 kilograms) and 135 pounds (61.2 kilograms). 

Notable lightweight boxers: Vasiliy Lomachenko, Shakur Stevenson, Gervonta Davis.

Shakur Stevenson sits with Jared Anderson in his dressing room before his heavyweight bout against Charles Martin. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Light Welterweight

Light welterweight is one of the intermediary weight classes in boxing. It falls between the lightweight and welterweight divisions, with boxers weighing above 61.2 kg or 135 pounds and up to 63.5 kg or 140 pounds.

Notable light welterweight boxers: Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney, Josh Taylor.

Welterweight

Welterweight is a step up from lightweight but falls below middleweight. A professional welterweight boxer typically weighs more than 140 pounds but no more than 147 pounds (about 63–67 kg).

Notable boxers in the welterweight division: Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr., Jaron Ennis.

Light Middleweight

Boxers in the light middleweight division weigh above 66.7 kg and up to 69.9 kg (147–154 pounds). This weight class came into existence in 1962 when the Austrian Board of Control sanctioned a fight between Emile Griffith and Teddy Wright for the “world” championship.

Notable light middleweight boxers: Jermell Charlo, Tim Tszyu, Liam Smith.

Middleweight

Competing in the middleweight division means boxing above 154 lb (70 kg) and up to 160 lb (73 kg). The first middleweight championship fight dates back to the bare-knuckle era in 1867, featuring Tom Chandler and Dooney Harris.

Notable boxers in the middleweight division: Janibek Alimkhanuly, Carlos Adames, Erislandy Lara.

Super Middleweight

Super middleweight sandwiches two weight classes in boxing.  Boxers in this division typically weigh between 160 pounds (73 kg) and 168 pounds (76 kg). This weight class made its debut in 1967.

Notable super middleweight boxers: Canelo Álvarez, David Benavidez, Caleb Plant.

Light Heavyweight

Falling between super middleweight and cruiserweight, the division includes weights above 168 pounds (76 kg) and up to 175 pounds (79 kg). Some of boxing's most celebrated champions have emerged from the light-heavyweight class.

Notable light heavyweight boxers: Dmitry Bivol, Artur Beterbiev, Callum Smith.

Cruiserweight

In the United Kingdom, “light heavyweight” and “cruiserweight” were sometimes used interchangeably before the current cruiserweight class was introduced. The current weight limit for this division is 200 pounds (90.7 kg).

Notable boxers in the cruiserweight division: Jai Opetaia, Mairis Briedis, Badou Jack.

Bridgerweight

The bridgerweight division is sanctioned for boxers weighing between 200 pounds (91 kg) and 224 pounds (102 kg). It is named after Bridger Walker, a courageous six-year-old American who rescued his four-year-old sister from a stray dog in July 2020.

Notable bridger weight boxers: Óscar Rivas, Łukasz Różański, Evgeny Tishchenko.

weight classes in boxing

Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank via Getty Images

Heavyweight

Male boxers weighing beyond 200 pounds (91 kg) are usually designated as heavyweights. For female fighters, the threshold is above 175 (79 kg) pounds.

Notable heavyweight boxers: Oleksandr Usyk, Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder.

History of Boxing Weight Classes

Back in the early nineteenth century, there were no established weight classes in boxing. According to the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue in 1823, a “lightweight” had a limit of 12 stone (168 lb, 76.2 kg), while Sportsman's Slang in the same year cited the limit as 11 stone (154 lb, 69.9 kg).

Size disparities led to frequent one-sided matches and increased the risk of severe injuries for boxers with smaller physiques. This also diminished the appeal of the sport to the audience.

As a result, the concept of categorizing fighters based on their weight gained momentum. In 1909, the National Sporting Club of London established the initial formalized regulations for boxing weight classes.

The New York State Athletic Commission introduced its boxing weight class regulations through the Walker Law in 1920.

What Are the Most Popular Weight Classes in Boxing?

There are 17 weight classes in boxing, but only eight are seen as the most glamorous. In fact, they are often called “glamor classes”. Here is the complete list of glamor weight classes in boxing: 

  • Heavyweight
  • Light Heavyweight
  • Middleweight
  • Welterweight
  • Lightweight
  • Featherweight
  • Bantamweight
  • Flyweight 

Famous Boxers Who Moved Weight Classes

While some boxers cement their legacy in a single division, some choose to try their luck in different weight classes in boxing. There are numerous examples in history of boxers achieving glory after moving divisions. Let’s have a look at some of them:

Michael Spinks

Spinks kicked off his professional career in the light-heavyweight division, where he claimed the WBA, WBC, and IBF titles. His subsequent move made waves: a direct leap from light-heavyweight to heavyweight. His adversary? The undefeated Larry Holmes, who was looking to match Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record.

Despite packing on significant muscle for the fight, Spinks still found himself giving up roughly 15 pounds on fight night. Nevertheless, he emerged triumphant with a narrow and contentious 15-round decision victory. The victory made him the IBF Heavyweight champion and the first pugilist in history to capture both a light-heavyweight and a heavyweight world title.

Evander Holyfield

Evander Holyfield transitioned from the cruiserweight to the heavyweight division in the late ‘80s. The Real Deal secured the world champion title by defeating James ‘Buster’ Douglas and claiming the WBC, WBA, and IBF belts. Holyfield exchanged blows against heavyweight titans Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson.

To this day, he stands alone as the undisputed champion in two weight classes.

David Haye

After dominating the cruiserweight division, David Haye set his sights on the heavyweight scene with confidence and flair. Despite his smaller stature compared to most heavyweights, ‘The Hayemaker’ relied on his speed and explosive power to make an impact. The division took notice, and soon he earned his opportunity for heavyweight glory.

Haye squared off against the towering ‘Beast from the East’ Nikolai Valuev for the WBA belt. Displaying incredible agility, Haye managed to rattle and stagger Valuev, despite giving away a significant 7-stone weight advantage and a 9-inch height difference. He and Holyfield are the only ones to unify at cruiserweight and then claim a heavyweight world title.

Manny Pacquiao

Manny ‘Pac Man’ Pacquiao is the only boxer to secure world titles in eight different divisions. Spanning from 112 to 154 lbs, the Philipino boxing icon’s titles reflect an impressive weight range of 42 lbs.

Throughout his remarkable career, he has held prestigious titles including WBC and Lineal Flyweight, IBF Super Bantamweight, Lineal Featherweight, WBC and Lineal Super Featherweight, WBC Lightweight, Lineal Super Lightweight, WBO and Lineal Welterweight, and WBC Super Welterweight Champion.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. boasts an impressive collection of titles, including the Lineal and WBC Super Featherweight, Lineal and WBC Lightweight, WBC Super Lightweight, IBF, WBC and Lineal Welterweight, and WBC and Lineal Super Welterweight Championships. Mayweather also got the better of Manny Pacquiao, the only fighter to have won championships across all glamor divisions. 

Weight classes in boxing are instrumental to maintaining the competitive spirit of the sport. These divisions not only provide structure and organization but also create opportunities for athletes of all sizes to compete at the highest levels. From the smallest strawweight category to the heaviest heavyweight division, weight classes ensure that boxing remains accessible to fighters of diverse physical profiles.

Bren Gray is our resident Kiwi, and has been writing about sports since he could first string words together. He first fell in love with boxing when David Tua took on Lennox Lewis in 2000, and hasn't looked back since.