Boxing’s early days looked nothing like how the combat sport looks today, including its confusing and difficult to remember division designations that incrementally increased from 105 lbs to 201 lbs and up. You see, back in the day, weights didn’t really matter when making a fight. Men just slugged it out without any mind paid to size differentials. However, that changed starting in the 1890s when the Marquess of Queensbetter Rules instituted universal regulations for professional boxing.
Roughly twenty years later, eight traditional weight-classes with specific limits debuted thanks to the National Sporting Club of London: heavyweight, cruiserweight, welterweight, middleweight, lightweight, bantamweight, featherweight, and flyweight.
The boxing weight limits have fluctuated for some of the divisions over the years since history books will tell you that the heavyweight limit used to be 160 lbs as far back as the 1730s. But athletes have grown considerably since the 18th century, and so have the number of divisions in boxing—the sport now features 17 different weight divisions.
Boxing’s 17 total weight classes span all the way from the diminutive 105-pound dynamos to heavyweight monsters that weigh in at 300 pounds. Interested in learning more? Keep reading as we break down each weight class as it stands today!
Weight Limit: Unlimited
Boxing’s heavyweight division was first created by Jack Broughton in 1738, with fighters weighing in at 160+ lbs. Since the division technically has no weight limit, boxers could theoretically weigh as much as they want and fight at heavyweight.
The weight at which a boxer is considered a heavyweight fighter would be modified a handful of times in the following years, namely in 1920 by the New York Walker Law to 175+ lbs, 190+ lbs in 1979 by the World Boxing Council (WBC), and finally by the World Boxing Organization (WBO), International Boxing Federation (IBF), and World Boxing Association (WBA), together to the present day weight of 200+ lbs. Those on the heavier end of this scale may be called super heavyweights.
Notable heavyweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 200 pounds
First established in 1979 by the WBC with a limit of 190 lbs to fit smaller heavyweight fighters who couldn’t compete with the growing size of the other boxers in the division. The first sanctioned cruiserweight champion fight was between Mate Parlov and Marvin Camel for the new WBC Cruiserweight belt. However, with the first match ending in a draw, it was the rematch in which Camel emerged victorious to become the very first cruiserweight world champ.
In 2003, the WBC and then subsequently, the other three sanctioning bodies decided on a new weight limit in the cruiserweight division of 200 lbs.
The longest title reign is jointly held by Marco Huck and Johnny Nelson with 13 title defenses.
Notable cruiserweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 175 pounds
The credit for creating the light heavyweight division goes to Chicago journalist and promoter Loe Houseman. He matched his fighter Jack Root against Kid McCoy for the inaugural light heavyweight championship belt. Jack Root ended up victorious and became the very first light heavyweight champ in the world.
Officially, the light heavyweight division was established in 1909 by the National Sporting Club of London, with the present weight limit of 175 lbs.
Notable light heavyweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 168 pounds
In the 1960s, interest for a division between light heavyweight and middleweight began to appear. The origin of the title traces back to the ‘junior light heavyweight champion,’ a title briefly recognized by a few states at a set weight of 168 lbs.
Notable super-middleweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 160 pounds
The middleweight division is deemed to have started around the 1840s, during the bare-knuckle era. The first middleweight championship belt in that form would be awarded to Tom Chandler in 1867, after beating Dooney Harries.
The beginnings of the current version of the belt were initially created in 1889 by the Amature Boxing Association of England. It was later modified and officially established by the National Sporting Club (NSC) in 1909 at the weight limit of 160 lbs.
Notable middleweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 154 pounds
Also known as junior middleweight. This division is considered to first have emerged in 1920 by the New York Walker Law, which was one of the most prominent American boxing legislation at that time. Subsequently, it was recognized by the Austrian Boxing Board of Control along with the European Boxing Union in 1962 at the weight limit of 154 lbs.
Notable super welterweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 147 pounds
The beginnings of the welterweight division trace back to England, 1889, when the first created weight limit is believed to have been 145 lbs. Officially, it was established by the BSC in 1909 at 147 lbs and consequently accepted by the New York State Athletic Commission and National Boxing Association in 1920.
On March 29th, 1889, American Paddy Duffy defeated Tom Meadows in a grueling battle and became what is believed to be the first welterweight champion of the world.
Notable welterweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 140 pounds
Also created by the New York Walker Law in 1920, the NBA officially recognized the super lightweight division in 1922 at a weight of 140 lbs.
Notable Super lightweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 135 pounds
The beginnings of the lightweight division can be traced all the way back to 1738 when introduced by the father of English boxing, Jack Broughton. Any fighter at the time, weighing less than 160 lbs, was considered a lightweight.
After that, it was modified slightly by the ABA in 1889 and was finally established at the present weight limit of 135 lbs by the NSC in 1909.
Notable lightweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 130 pounds
This division was initially created by the New York Walker Law in 1920 at a weight of 130 lbs. However, some records state that it may have first appeared in Europe around 1914. The first super featherweight champion was Johnny Dundee, who beat George Chaney at Madison Square Garden on November 11th, 1921.
Notable super featherweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 126 pounds
The featherweight division originated in the 1860s under the London Prize Ring Rules, with a set weight limit of 118 lbs. However, the English ABA established the weight at 126 lbs, followed by a few more changes until the NSC officially modified it back in America to 126 lbs. The first featherweight champ in the world is considered Irishman Ike Weir, who defeated Frank Murphy on January 13th, 1890.
Notable featherweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 122 pounds
Also created in 1920 by the New York Walker Law, Super Bantam was set at a weight limit of 122 lbs. In 1922, Jack Wolfe took down Joe Lynch in what was billed as the first junior featherweight championship, though the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) would not recognize this fight.
Notable super-bantamweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 118 pounds
Bantamweight was first established in the 1890s by the American Boxing Association. It would subsequently appear under other rules, such as The Queensberry Rules and the London Prize Ring Rules, in which the weight limit fluctuated between 105 lbs and 116 lbs. However, the NSC officially sanctioned it in 1909 at the current weight limit of 118 lbs.
Notable bantamweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 115 pounds
Like many other divisions, super flyweight is considered to be created by the New York Walker Law in 1920. It was first named as junior bantamweight, at a weight limit set at 115 lbs, but there are no records of any titles held in this division until 1980.
Today, the super flyweight weight limit is still set at 115 lbs.
Notable bantamweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 112 pounds
First established in 1909 by the NSC at a weight limit of 112 lbs, this division was also officially a part of the Walker Law set up in 1920. Subsequently, it was also recognized by the NBA and NYSAC in 1927.
Notable flyweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 108 pounds
First established by the New York Walker Law in 1920 as ‘junior flyweight,’ at a weight limit of 108 lbs, the junior flyweight division would soon be abolished, with no champion being given the title during that time.
Fast forward to 1975, it was re-introduced by the WBC as ‘light flyweight.’ The inaugural champion was Francisco Udella, after a disqualification win against Valentin Martinez.
Notable junior flyweight champions throughout history include:
Weight Limit: 105 pounds
The minimumweight division was first introduced at the Summer Olympics in Mexico in 1968, with the lightest weight limit of 105 lbs. The first world minimum title fight was sanctioned by the IBF between Kyung-Yun Lee and Masaharu Kawakami in June 1987. Lee took the championship belt and was announced as the first minimum weight champion of the world. This category is also known as strawweight or mini flyweight, depending on who you ask.
Notable minimumweight champions throughout history include:
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