Boxing Weight Classes and Governing Bodies

Since boxing began it is the ultimate contest of who is best with no team, superior equipment or weather conditions affecting the outcome as much as in other sports. So to know who the world champion was all you needed was a fair weight system and for the fights to be made right?

Well yes, but below you will see why sometimes we are none the clearer who is the champion in each division as the weight classes have expanded and the Championship Organisations have grown in numbers. Unlike most sports, there is no single governing body that decides the rules of boxing, markets and promotes the sport and looks after its long-term future.

When the Marquess of Queensberry rules were devised by John Graham Chambers of the Amateur Athletic Club in 1867. The introduction of the first weight divisions started to take place during this time to introduce more of a level playing field we are used to today with less weight being conceded in fighter match up’s.

The "Original Eight" weight divisions, also known as the "traditional", "classic" or "glamour" divisions. Are still the most prominent and widely recognised weight divisions in boxing today:



Years establishment


200+ lbs (+90.71 kg)

160+ lbs (+72.57 kg) in 1738 by Broughton's Rules; 175+ lbs (+79.37 kg) in 1920 by Walker Law; 190+ (+86.18 kg) lbs in 1979 and finally 200+ lbs (+90.71 kg)

Light heavyweight

168–175 lbs (76.20 - 79.37 kg)

175 lbs (79.37 kg) in 1909 by National Sporting Club of London (NSC)


154–160 lbs (69.85 - 72.57 kg)

Fights dating back to 1840s; established officially at 160 lbs (72.57 kg) in 1909 by NSC


140–147 lbs (63.50 - 66.67 kg)

145 lbs (65.77 kg) in 1889; established officially at 147 lbs (66.67 kg) in 1909 by NSC


130–135 lbs (58.96 - 61.23 kg)

160 lbs (72.57 kg) in 1738 by Broughton's Rules; 140 lbs (63.50 kg) in 1889; established officially at 135 lbs (61.23 kg) in 1909 by NSC


122–126 lbs (55.33 - 57.15 kg)

118 lbs (53.52 kg) in 1860 by London Prize Ring Rules; 110 lbs (49.89 kg) and 115 (47.62 kg) lbs in 1889; Official at 126 lbs (57.15 kg) in 1909 by NSC


115–118 lbs (52.16 - 53.52 kg)

105 lbs (47.62 kg) in 1860 by London Prize Ring Rules; 116 lbs (52.61 kg) in 1898; 118 lbs (53.52 kg) in 1909 by NSC; Official at 118 lbs (53.52 kg) in 1920 by Walker Law


108–112 lbs (48.98 - 50.80 kg)

112 lbs (50.80 kg) in 1909 by NSC and standardized in 1920 by Walker Law[10]


The newcomer weight divisions or "tweener divisions", mostly recognised with either a "super", "light" or "junior" in front of their names, took many years to be fully recognised as legitimate weight divisions in boxing. But are now established as:




Years establishment


175–200 lbs (79.37 - 90.71 kg)

190 lbs (86.18 kg) in 1979; changed to 200 lbs (90.71 kg) in 2003

Super middleweight

160–168 lbs (72.57 - 76.20 kg)

Established and recognized in 1967–1988

Light middleweight

147–154 lbs (66.67 - 69.85 kg)

Established in 1920 by Walker Law; recognized in 1962

Light welterweight

135–140 lbs (61.23 - 63.50 kg)

Established officially at 140 lbs (63.50 kg) in 1920 by Walker Law; recognized in 1959

Super featherweight

126–130 lbs (57.15 - 58.96 kg)

Established at 130 lbs (58.96 kg) in 1920 by Walker Law; recognized in 1959

Super bantamweight

118–122 lbs (53.52 - 55.33 kg)

Established at 122 lbs (55.33 kg) in 1920 by Walker Law; recognized in 1976

Super flyweight

112–115 lbs (50.80 - 52.16 kg)

Established at 115 lbs (52.16 kg) in 1920 by Walker Law; recognized in 1980

Light flyweight

105–108 lbs (47.62 - 48.98 kg)

Established at 108 lbs (48.98 kg) in 1920 by Walker Law; recognized in 1975


105 lbs (47.62 kg)

Recognized in 1987[10]


These are known as boxing’s weight classifications or “class” for short. A boxer may fight different matches at different weight classes as long as he meets the weigh in weight. The trend for professionals is to move up to a higher class as they age (As you naturally put on weight and fill out). Winning titles at multiple weight classes to become a “multiple champion” is considered a major achievement.

Now Different Boxing Organisations used to call the weight classes different names. So in January 2015, the World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association and the International Boxing Federation reached an agreement to standardise the names of professional boxing's then 17 weight divisions. (The World Boxing Organization has yet to adopt these standard class names.)

  • Mini Flyweight/Strawweight/Minimumweight
    • The IBF and WBO use to call this the Mini Flyweight Division. The WBC use to refer to it as the Strawweight. Now called the Minimumweight by the WBC/WBA/IBF and Mini Flyweight by the WBO
  • Light Flyweight
    • Called the Light Flyweight by the WBC/WBA/IBF and Junior Flyweight with the WBO
  • Flyweight
    • All four agree, yay!
  • Super Flyweight/Junior Bantamweight
    • Previously called Super Flyweight (WBA, WBC) or Junior Bantamweight (IBF and WBO). Now the Super Flyweight by WBC/WBA/IBF and Junior Bantamweight by the WBO.
  • Bantamweight
    • All four agree, yay!
  • Super Bantamweight/Light Featherweight
    • Previously called the Super Bantamweight (WBA, WBC) or Light Featherweight (IBF, WBO). Now the Super Bantamweight with the WBC/WBA/IBF and Light featherweight with the WBO
  • Featherweight
    • All four agree, yay!
  • Super Featherweight/Junior Lightweight
    • Previously called Super Featherweight (WBA/WBC) or Junior Lightweight (WBO/IBF). Now called Super featherweight by WBC/WBA/IBF and Junior Lightweight by the WBO
  • Lightweight
    • All four agree, yay!
  • Super Lightweight/Junior Welterweight
    • Previously called Super Lightweight (WBA/WBC) or Junior Welterweight (WBO/IBF). Now called the Super Lightweight by WBC/WBA/IBF and the Junior Welterweight by the WBO
  • Welterweight
    • All four agree, yay!
  • Super Welterweight/Junior Middleweight
    • Called the Super Welterweight by the WBC/WBA/IBF and Junior Middleweight by the WBO
  • Middleweight
    • All four agree, yay!
  • Super Middleweight
    • All four agree, yay!
  • Light Heavyweight
    • All four agree, yay!
  • Cruiserweight/Junior Heavyweight
    • Called Cruiserweight by the WBA/WBC/IBF and Junior Heavyweight by the WBO.
  • Heavyweight
    • All four agree, yay!

 Recently we have seen the introduction of the Bridgerweight division a weight class in professional boxing created and used by the World Boxing Council (WBC) for fighters between 200 and 224 pounds (91 kg; 14st 3lbs -  101.61kg;  16stone) The weight is named after six-year-old American, Bridger Walker, who saved his four-year-old sister from a stray dog in 2020. In more recent years boxers at the entry point of Heavyweight have struggled due to the size of the average modern day heavyweight fighter, leading to calls in the past for a super heavyweight division to represent the new athlete breed and give an opportunity for the fighters to big for the Light Heavy or Cruiserweight divisions. The IBA, has a similar weight class named super cruiserweight for boxers weighing between 200 pounds (91 kg; 14 st 4 lb) and 210 pounds (95 kg; 15 st 0 lb)

So here we all was one step closer to knowing who was best in the world, but with different organisations setting the rules of boxing it is about to get much murkier.

Now within all the weight groups, we now have to find the champions from each of the Alphabet Groups a term used to describe the numerous sanctioning bodies of boxing; the WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF, WBF, IBA, IBO, WBU etc. It makes it hard to determine who is champion and it often makes it difficult for fighters holding different versions of the World Championship’s to face as they may have to relinquish a belt.

Since the four-belt era began in 2004 (WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF) there hasn't been an undisputed heavyweight champion for example. Heavyweight great Lennox Lewis remains the last disputed undisputed heavyweight champion of the world following his victory over Evander Holyfield but he didn’t hold the then lightly regarded WBO.

The unified champion now is defined as a boxer that holds at least two world championships of major sanctioning bodies (WBA, WBC, IBF or WBO) in their respective division. Around 2004, the World Boxing Association recognised three different types: the unified champion (two-titles holder in the weight division or category, the undisputed champion (three-titles holder) and the super champion (four-titles holder)

The simple problem is each origination give’s their rules on defending a title with timelines for a fighter trying to hold or win the organisation belts to defend or challenge within. Sometimes a fighter can’t defend a title in time or by fighting a mandatory challenger with one organisation will mean losing a title with another. Simply put with the belts in the way sometimes fights can’t be made as they all require sanctioning fees and the fights become bigger than the belts.

You will often see a fighter relinquish a belt to make a fight happen rather than miss the opportunity with a mandatory defence. You will also see that each divisions top 10 with the organisations can vary greatly with some top ranked fighters with one organisation not being highly regarded with another, so making the fights to climb the ranking’ may not benefit a fighters career.

If we would like to complicate the boxing landscape a little more sometimes the money fights in boxing are in different weight groups so a bout at a nonstandard weight limit is called a catchweight. A catchweight may be agreed to 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.

Clear now? No we are not sure we are either! It is why the ring belt that goes to who the ring magazine think is the champion in a division has become significant as has term lineal champion which is simply put when one fighter beats who is the champion. Now how do we decide who is the best pound for pound from all the weight divisions and belt holders………..