Minimumweight is a weight class in professional boxing. Weight classes are categories in which competition is divided into to match competitors of the same size against each other. In professional boxing, minimumweight boxers do not weight more than 105 pounds (48 kg). This weight category is relatively new for professionals. It was inaugurated between 1987 and 1990 by the major boxing sanctioning bodies. The record for the highest number of title defenses is held by Ricardo Lopez, who has defended the WBC title 21 times.
In the Summer Olympic Games of 1968, the minimumweight category was introduced under the name light flyweight. Until 1987, none of the major sanctioning bodies recognized this weight class. In June of 1987, the IBF recognized the weight class when Masaharu Kawakami was knocked out by Kyung-Yun Lee to become the first champion.
Once the IBF recognized this division, it wasn't far along that it was recognised by the WBC in October 1987, the WBA in January 1988 and later by the WBO in August 1989. The weight class has been dominated primarily by Asians and Latin Americans with very little success coming from other nationalities.
In the early years (1987-1989), Napa Kiatwanchai was the most successful in defending the WBC belt with early wins against a young up and coming Hiroki Ioka, who later was successful in the light flyweight, flyweight and super flyweight. Nico Thomas, Jum-Hwan Choi and Leo Gamez are other great champions from this period.
Ricardo Lopez dominated the majority of the 1990s. He holds the record for maximum title defenses with 21. He is also the only minimumweight to hold two major titles simultaneously (WBC and WBO). Ratanpol Sor Vorapin, Chana Porpaoin and Rosendo Alvarez are other noteworthy champions of this period.
In May 1993, Paul Weir from Scotland was crowned the first champion of the division when he defeated Fernando Martinez to win the vacant championship. He was the first non Asian or Latin American champion. After him, South Africa's Zolani Petelo won the IBF title in December 1997. Hi-Yong Choi, Hideyuki Ohashi, Alex Sánchez, Wandee Chor Chareon, Rocky Lin, Ala Villamor, Kermin Guardia, Noel Arambulet, Songkram Porpaoin, and Osvaldo Guerrero were other great champions from this period.
Between 2000 and 2003, Jose Antonio Aguirre and Ivan Calderon were the most remarkable champions. Between 2004 and 2006, Yutaka Niida, Eagle Kyowa and Muhammad Ranchman were winning the gold. Jose Antonio Aguirre began to lose his spot during this period, but Ivan Calderon continued to successfully defend his WBO title until August 2007, after which he moved up to the light flyweight.
Between 2007 and 2009, Donnie Nietes, Raul Garcia, Oleydong Sithsamerchai and Roman Gonzalez were the most decorated champions. In the early part of the 2010s, many new faces surfaced such as Denver Cuello and Kazuto Ioka. Thai boxers returned to dominance towards the end of the decade with Chayaphon Moonsri and Thammanoon Niyomtrong winning titles and remaining undefeated.