Weight class (boxing)

A weight class is a measurement weight range for boxers. The lower limit of a weight class is equal to the upper weight limit of the class below it. The top class, with no upper limit, is called heavyweight in professional boxing and super heavyweight[1] in amateur boxing. A boxing match is usually scheduled for a fixed weight class, and each boxer's weight must not exceed the upper limit. Although professional boxers may fight above their weight class, an amateur boxer's weight must not fall below the lower limit. A nonstandard weight limit is called a catch weight.

The weigh-in

A professional boxer typically weighs more between fights than at the time of a fight. Part of the process of training for a bout is "getting down to fighting weight". The weigh-in takes place the day before the fight. Boxers typically stand on the scales barefoot and without gloves. The weigh-in is often a photo opportunity and boxers or their entourage may trash talk each other. This element is such a valued part of the build-up that heavyweight boxers go through the ritual of being weighed even though there is no limit to be measured against.

A boxer who is over the weight limit may strip naked to make the weight if the excess is minimal; otherwise, in a professional bout, one can try again later, typically after losing weight in the interim through dehydration by vigorous exercise in a steam room. If the excess weight is too great, the effort expended trying to "make weight" will make the boxer unfit for the fight itself. In such cases, the fight may be cancelled, with the over weight boxer sanctioned; or the fight may proceed as a catch weight non-title fight.

An amateur boxer must make the weight at the initial weigh-in; there is no opportunity to try again later.[2] There is a "general weigh-in" before the start of the tournament and a "daily weigh-in" on the morning of each of a fighter's bouts.[3] At the general weigh-in, the fighter must be between the weight class's upper and lower limits; at the daily weigh-in only the upper limit is enforced.[3] A fighter outside the limit at the initial weigh-in may be allowed to fight in a different class if there is space in the tournament.[4] At major events such as boxing at the Olympics, there is a limit of one boxer per country per weight class.[5]


A boxer may fight different bouts at different weight classes. The trend for professionals is to move up to a higher class as they age. Winning titles at multiple weight classes to become a "multiple champion" is considered a major achievement. In amateur boxing, bouts are much shorter and much more frequent, and boxers fight at their "natural" weight.

One boxer is said to be better "pound for pound" than another if he is considered superior with due regard for their difference in weight. Theoretical comparisons of the merits of boxers in different weight classes are a popular topic for boxing fans, with a similar speculative appeal to comparing sports figures from different eras; in both cases, the competitors could never face each other in reality.


In the early nineteenth century, there were no standard weight classes. In 1823, the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue said the limit for a "light weight" was 12 stone (168 lb) while Sportsman's Slang the same year gave 11 stone (154 lb) as the limit.[6] Size mismatches were dangerous for the smaller boxer and unsatisfying for the spectators. National and world titles could only become recognised if standard weight classes were agreed upon. Important sets of weight classes were those specified in 1909 by the National Sporting Club of London, and those contained in the 1920 Walker Law which established the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC).

After the split in the 1960s between the WBC and the WBA, the divisions were narrowed, creating more champions simultaneously, and making it easier for fighters to move between different weight divisions. Among the professional bodies, the names of the new divisions are not standardized between different sanctioning bodies, although the cutoff weights are. These weights are specified in pounds, reflecting the historic dominance of Britain (and, later, America) in the sport.

Catch weight

Main article: Catch weight

A nonstandard weight limit is called a catch weight. A catch weight may be agreed for an individual bout—sometimes even for a championship bout—but championships are awarded only at the standard weight classes. For example, when Manny Pacquiao fought Antonio Margarito at a catch-weight of 150 pounds, the World Boxing Council sanctioned this as a title fight for jr. middleweight, whose limit is 154 pounds.[7]

Professional boxing

This table gives names and limits recognised by the four widely regarded sanctioning bodies (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO),[8] the label used in Boxrec.com's data, The Ring Magazine and by world's oldest boxing magazine Boxing News.

The date is that since which a continuous world title has been recognised by a major sanctioning body; some classes had earlier champions recognised intermittently or by minor bodies. One current weight class with only minor recognition is "super-cruiserweight"; widely used as an informal descriptor, it is a formal weight class of the lightly regarded (professional) International Boxing Association at a limit of 210 lb; the IBA's cruiserweight limit is 190 lb.[9]

Weight limit
(lb / kg / stone)
WBA WBC WBO IBF BoxRec The Ring Boxing News
unlimited 1884 Heavyweight Heavyweight Heavyweight Heavyweight Heavyweight Heavyweight Heavyweight
200 lb / 90.72 kg / 14 st 4 1980[t 1] Cruiserweight Cruiserweight Junior heavyweight Cruiserweight Cruiserweight Cruiserweight Cruiserweight
175 lb / 79.38 kg / 12 st 7 1913 Light heavyweight Light heavyweight Light heavyweight Light heavyweight Light heavyweight Light heavyweight Light-heavyweight
168 lb / 76.2 kg / 12 st 1984 Super middleweight Super middleweight Super middleweight Super middleweight Super middleweight Super middleweight Super-middleweight
160 lb / 72.57 kg / 11 st 6 1884 Middleweight Middleweight Middleweight Middleweight Middleweight Middleweight Middleweight
154 lb / 69.85 kg / 11 st 1962 Super welterweight Super welterweight Junior middleweight Light middleweight Light middleweight Junior middleweight Light-middleweight
147 lb / 66.68 kg / 10 st 7 1914 Welterweight Welterweight Welterweight Welterweight Welterweight Welterweight Welterweight
140 lb / 63.5 kg / 10 st 1959 Super lightweight Super lightweight Junior welterweight Light welterweight Light welterweight Junior welterweight Light-welterweight
135 lb / 61.23 kg / 9 st 9 1886 Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight
130 lb / 58.97 kg / 9 st 4 1959 Super featherweight Super featherweight Junior lightweight Junior lightweight Super featherweight Junior lightweight Super-featherweight
126 lb / 57.15 kg / 9 st 1889 Featherweight Featherweight Featherweight Featherweight Featherweight Featherweight Featherweight
122 lb / 55.34 kg / 8 st 10 1976 Super bantamweight Super bantamweight Junior featherweight Junior featherweight Super bantamweight Junior Featherweight Super-bantamweight
118 lb / 53.52 kg / 8 st 6 1894 Bantamweight Bantamweight Bantamweight Bantamweight Bantamweight Bantamweight Bantamweight
115 lb / 52.16 kg / 8 st 3 1980 Super flyweight Super flyweight Junior bantamweight Junior bantamweight Super flyweight Junior Bantamweight Super-flyweight
112 lb / 50.8 kg / 8 st 1911 Flyweight Flyweight Flyweight Flyweight Flyweight Flyweight Flyweight
108 lb / 48.99 kg / 7 st 10 1975 Light flyweight Light flyweight Junior flyweight Junior flyweight Light flyweight Junior Flyweight Light-flyweight
105 lb / 47.63 kg / 7 st 7 1987 Minimumweight Mini flyweight Mini flyweight Minimumweight Minimumweight Strawweight Strawweight
102 lb / 46.27 kg / 7 st 4 2007 Light minimumweight Atomweight Atomweight


  1. Original limit 190 lb; raised to 200 lb in 2003

Amateur boxing

When the (amateur) International Boxing Association (AIBA) was founded in 1946 to govern amateur boxing, it metricated the weight class limits by rounding them to the nearest kilogram. Subsequent alterations as outlined in the boxing at the Summer Olympics article; these have introduced further discrepancies between amateur and professional class limits and names. The lower weight classes are to be adjusted in September 2010, to establish an absolute minimum weight for adult boxers.[1]

Amateur weight classes also specify the minimum weight (which the same as the maximum weight of the next highest class).[1] For safety reasons, fighters cannot fight at a higher weight. This also meant that even the heaviest weight class has a limit, albeit a lower bound. The lower limit for "heavyweight" was established in 1948 at 81 kg. When a new limit of 91+ kg was established in 1984, the name "heavyweight" was kept by the 81+ kg class, and the 91+ kg class was named "super heavyweight", a name not currently used in professional boxing.

Classes are as follows:[10]

Class name Weight class limit (kg/lbs)
Men Women Junior
Super heavyweight over 91 kg (201 lb; 14.3 st)
Heavyweight 81–91 kg (179–201 lb; 12.8–14.3 st) over 81 kg (179 lb; 12.8 st) over 80 kg (180 lb; 13 st)
Light heavyweight 75–81 kg (165–179 lb; 11.8–12.8 st) 75–81 kg (165–179 lb; 11.8–12.8 st) 74–80 kg (163–176 lb; 11.7–12.6 st)
Middleweight 69–75 kg (152–165 lb; 10.9–11.8 st) 69–75 kg (152–165 lb; 10.9–11.8 st) 70–74 kg (154–163 lb; 11.0–11.7 st)
Light middleweight 66–70 kg (146–154 lb; 10.4–11.0 st)
Welterweight 64–69 kg (141–152 lb; 10.1–10.9 st) 64–69 kg (141–152 lb; 10.1–10.9 st) 63–66 kg (139–146 lb; 9.9–10.4 st)
Light welterweight 60–64 kg (132–141 lb; 9.4–10.1 st) 60–64 kg (132–141 lb; 9.4–10.1 st) 60–63 kg (132–139 lb; 9.4–9.9 st)
Lightweight 56–60 kg (123–132 lb; 8.8–9.4 st) 57–60 kg (126–132 lb; 9.0–9.4 st) 57–60 kg (126–132 lb; 9.0–9.4 st)
Featherweight 54–57 kg (119–126 lb; 8.5–9.0 st) 54–57 kg (119–126 lb; 8.5–9.0 st)
Bantamweight 52–56 kg (115–123 lb; 8.2–8.8 st) 51–54 kg (112–119 lb; 8.0–8.5 st) 52–54 kg (115–119 lb; 8.2–8.5 st)
Light bantamweight 50–52 kg (110–115 lb; 7.9–8.2 st)
Flyweight 49–52 kg (108–115 lb; 7.7–8.2 st) 48–51 kg (106–112 lb; 7.6–8.0 st) 48–50 kg (106–110 lb; 7.6–7.9 st)
Light flyweight 46–49 kg (101–108 lb; 7.2–7.7 st) 45–48 kg (99–106 lb; 7.1–7.6 st) 46–48 kg (101–106 lb; 7.2–7.6 st)
Pinweight 44–46 kg (97–101 lb; 6.9–7.2 st)

At the Olympics, each weight-class is a separate single-elimination tournament. The competition begins with the first round of the lightest weight class and proceeds with the first round of each higher weight class; then the next round of the lightest class, and so on, with the finals of each class held over the final two days, and the super-heavyweight final last of all.[11]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 AIBA, Technical & Competition Rules, §1.2 & Appendix K
  2. AIBA, Technical & Competition Rules, §6.1
  3. 1 2 AIBA, Technical & Competition Rules, §5.1
  4. AIBA, Technical & Competition Rules, §6
  5. AIBA, Technical & Competition Rules, §2.2
  6. Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. "light weight".
  7. Guzman, Francisco (13 November 2009). "Miguel Cotto ready to put out his fire power". BraggingRightsCorner. Retrieved 13 March 2012. Pacquiao is also given the chance to fight for the WBO welterweight title despite the catch weight issue.
  8. ESPN - Reigning Champions - Boxing
  9. Men's champions International Boxing Association
  10. AIBA, Terminology for Weight Categories and Weight Range, Appendix K, page 63
  11. AIBA, Technical & Competition Rules, §7.6
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