#5 Weight Classes
Before we proceed, with boxing weight classes, you must understand that the long and storied history of boxing’s weight classes cannot be explained briefly or in simple words. As a boxing fan myself, I can attest to the fact that boxing is a beautiful combat sport but has been ruined by corrupt organizations and greedy promoters.
In the early 19th century boxing had no weight classes, however that changed in 1823 when the weight limit of 168 pounds (154 pounds in some places), was regarded as the Lightweight category. Any boxer weighing above the aforementioned weight limit was considered to be a heavyweight.
One of the most essential transitions in the weight-division history of boxing took place in the 1960s owing to the split between the World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Council (WBC) that lead to the creation of the multitude of weight classes that has given us the current boxing model as of 2017.
The addition of several weight-classes with narrow gaps between each other was a gradual process that helped top organizations such as the WBA and WBC crown multiple world champions and thereby increase their income by way of humongous amounts of sanctioning fees for boxing matches involving the aforementioned world champions.
This business model helped turn boxing that was already a lucrative business, into a multi-billion dollar industry. However, it’s this very model that has created the mish-mash of weight-classes that boxing suffers from as of today. Professional boxing in 2017 has...Wait for it...17 weight classes! That’s right, gone are the days when all we had to remember as fight fans, were the Lightweight and the Heavyweight divisions.
Furthermore, the 4 major boxing organizations, the WBA, WBC, the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and the International Boxing Federation (IBF) disagree on the names of many of the aforementioned weight-classes. For example- The 154 pound division is recognized by the WBA and WBC as the Super-middleweight division; by the WBO as junior middleweight division; and by the IBF as the Light-middleweight division. Furthermore, many of these weight classes are separated by as little as 3 pounds making it all the more confusing for a boxing fan, a new one in particular, to distinguish between the champions and top fighters of different weight classes.
On the other hand, MMA boasts an excellent division of weight-classes. The arrangement of weight-classes in MMA can be described the best as Goldilocks’ porridge- just perfect. Women’s MMA (WMMA) has 11 weight classes- (Atomweight- 105 pounds, Strawweight- 115, Flyweight- 125, Bantamweight- 135, Featherweight- 145, Lightweight- 155, Welterweight- 170, Middleweight-185, Light-Heavyweight- 205, Heavyweight- 265; Super-Heavyweight- 265+ pounds).
Men’s MMA doesn’t have a 105 pound division and the Super-Heavyweight division is mainly functional in Japanese MMA (JMMA) and in lower-level regional promotions in the Eastern European circuit. As compared to boxing one can easily distinguish between the different weight-classes and their respective champions in the top MMA promotions (more on MMA promotions later). The weight-classes in MMA are created in lieu of the guidelines laid down by the Unified Rules of MMA, created in the year 2000.
The Unified Rules of MMA have undergone several changes from time-to-time in order to promote fighter-safety, with the most recent changes being effective from January 1st 2017. The weight-class guidelines laid down by the Unified Rules of MMA have been widely adopted by every major MMA promotion in the world. Furthermore in the sport of MMA, as opposed to boxing, the distinction of the roles of ‘promoter’ and ‘organization’ is not emphasized.
MMA’s simplicity in the weight-category aspect trumps boxing’s mish-mash of unnecessary and confusing weight-classes.