RING SIDE: Boxing Briefs

Description of Weight Classes

Boxing’s Answerman, Herbert G. Goldman in Boxing Digest, Vol XLI, Number 2, February, 99.

Weight classes

can be traced to England in the 1700s, when fighters weighing less than ten stone (140-lbs.) began fighting among themselves (usually in “preliminary” contests) and were soon termed “lightweights”.

The middleweight division

followed, generally for men between ten and eleven (154-lbs.) stone.


(the term “welter” borrowed from English horse racing), a class falling midway between light and welter, first appeared in the 1790s, but died out quickly till revived in the U.S. around 1880.

“Featherweights” and “bantamweights”

were used to denote fighters below lightweight, sometimes interchangeably and vaguely, with specific limits set for each individual contest. Divisions below heavyweight became more popular with the advent of the Queensberry (i.e., gloved) rules among the pros in the 1870s, but little attempt was made to fix weight limits until Britain’s National Sporting Club adopted eight permanent divisions at a meeting on February 11, 1909.

flyweight – lightweight – light heavyweight – heavyweight

It was then that flyweight (112), bantamweight (118), featherweight (126), lightweight (135) welterweight (147), middleweight (160), light heavyweight (175) and heavyweight (no limit) were set at the weight levels we still know and love today.

junior lightweight

The 130-pound “junior lightweight” class appeared in 1914, while other junior divisions were adopted by the New York State Athletic Commission in 1920.

The Technique of Boxing


Boxers usually fight from an orthodox stance. This means putting the left foot slightly ahead of the right with both feet spread apart and the weight of the body evenly distributed on both. This position enables the boxer to move quickly in any direction. The left arm is partly extended to the front. The right arm is held close to the body to guard the stomach and jaw.


Boxers stand with the right foot and right arm forward. The chief points of attack are the tip of the jaw, the spot just below the ear, and the midsection of the body. A solid punch delivered to one of these points often results in a knockout.

Heavyweight Facts

Youngest man to win universal recognition as champion:Mike Tyson, 21 yrs. 2 mos.
Oldest title winner:George Foreman, 45 yrs, 9 mos.
Longest Reign:Joe Louis, 11 yrs, 8 mos.
Shortest Reign:Leon Spinks 7 mos.
Most Successful Defenses:Joe Louis, 25
Largest Attendance:120,757, 9/23/26, Sesquicentenntial Stadium, Philadelphia,
Gene Tunney-Jack Dempsey I
Tallest champion:Jess Willard 6-6
Shortest champion:Tommy Burns 5-7
Heaviest title winner:Primo Carnera, 260 1/2 lbs
Lightest title winner:Bob Fitzimmons, 167lbs.
Last foreign-born champion:Lennox Lewis, England
First American champion:John L. Sullivan
First southpaw champion:Michael Moorer
First man to regain title:Floyd Patterson
Only men to regain title twice:Muhammad Ali
(from George Foreman and Leon Spinks)
Evander Holyfield
(from Riddick Bowe, from Mike Tyson)
Only man to retire undefeated:Rocky Marciano (49-0)
Only men to retire as champion:Muhammad Ali
Jim Jefferies
Joe Louis
Rocky Marciano
Gene Tunney
(Ali, Jefferies and Louis lost comeback bouts)
Last bareknuckle title fight:John L. Sullivan vs. Jake Kilrain
First title fight with gloves:James J. Corbett vs. John L. Sullivan
Champions who were undefeated when they won title:John L. Sullivan 15-0 Jim Jefferies 11-0-2 Rocky Marciano 43-0 Ingemar Johansson 22-0 Cassius Clay 20-0 Joe Frazier 25-0 George Foreman 37-0 Larry Holmes 36-0 Leon Spinks 7-0-1 Michael Spinks 29-0 Mike Tyson 35-0 Evander Holyfield 25-0 Riddick Bowe 32-0 Michael Moorer 35-0
Champions who have won Olympic gold medals:Floyd Patterson – Middleweight 1952 Cassius Clay – Light Heavyweight 1960 Joe Frazier – Heavyweight 1964 George Foreman – Heavyweight 1968 Michael Spinks – Middleweight 1976 Lennox Lewis – Heavyweight 1988
The Best in the Business:Lennox Lewis t.

Box Office Heavyweights

Record live gates in Las Vegas

11/13/99 18,500 ? Lennox Lewis vs Evander Holyfield II 6/28/97 16,279 14,277,200 Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson II 11/9/96 16,103 14,150,700 Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson I 8/19/95 16,113 13,965,600 Mike Tyson vs. Pete McNeeley 3/16/96 16,143 10,673,700 Mike Tyson vs. Frank Bruno 6/7/96 14,738 7,579,100 Oscar De La Hoya vs. J.C. Chavez I 1/16/99 10,221 7,055,800 Mike Tyson vs. Francois Botha 11/25/90 10,117 6,546,441 Evander Holyfield vs. Buster Douglas 6/12/89 12,064 6,468,600 Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns II 12/7/89 11,904 6,448,700 Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran 9/7/96 9,511 6,305,900 Mike Tyson vs. Bruce Seldon 6/11/82 29,214 6,239,050 Larry Holmes vs. Gerry Cooney 4/6/87 12,379 6,215,400 Ray Leonard vs. Marvin Hagler 6/28/91 13,047 6,200,276 Mike Tyson vs. Razor Ruddock, II 11/6/93 10,923 5,792,838 Evander Holyfield vs. Riddick Bowe II 10/2/80 24,570 5,766,125 Larry Holmes vs. Muhammad Ali 11/8/97 9,395 5,566,700 Evander Holyfield vs. Michael Moorer 3/18/91 12,563 5,454,918 Mike Tyson vs. Razor Ruddock I 4/12/97 11,764 5,143,000 Oscar De La Hoya vs. Pernell Whitaker 11/13/92 13,689 4,914,856 Riddick Bowe vs. Evander Holyfield I 9/16/81 23,306 4,865,150 Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns I 4/15/85 12,241 4,589,400 Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns 9/18/98 13,384 5,070,100 Oscar De La Hoya vs. J.C. Chavez II 11/4/95 8,504 4,407,900 Riddick Bowe vs. Evander Holyfield III 9/17/94 14,261 4,298,219 J. C. Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor II 9/12/92 18,361 4,288,145 J.C. Chavez vs. Hector Camacho 4/22/94 9,083 4,146,258 Michael Moorer vs. Evander Holyfield 6/19/92 9,013 3,917,794 Evander Holyfield vs. Larry Holmes 1/29/94 11,357 3,733,623 Frankie Randall vs. J.C. Chavez I
Nevada State Athletic Commission

Boxing Rules

Most of the regulations that govern boxing today are based on rules drawn up in about 1866 under the sponsorship of the eighth marquess of Queensberry, an English patron of the sport. These rules require bouts to be divided into three-minute periods, or rounds, with one minute of rest between.

Amateur bouts usually consist of 3 rounds; professional bouts vary from 4 rounds on up, with 12 rounds the maximum for championship fights. The gloves vary in weight – 8 to 10 ounces for professional boxers, 10 to 12 ounces for amateurs.


Boxing rules require both fighters to engage in a “fair, stand-up” match with no wrestling or gouging.


All blows must be struck with the gloved fists, and hitting below the belt, on the back of the head, on the neck, or on the kidneys is forbidden.


A fighter who breaks these rules is guilty of a foul. He may be punished with the loss of the round, or he may be disqualified and his opponent awarded the fight.


If a fighter falls or is knocked down, he must get to his feet within ten seconds. The referee counts seconds aloud as long as the fighter remains down. Some states require a boxer to take a count of eight if he has been knocked down. If the referee reaches the number ten he declares a knockout (KO). Sometimes a fighter is hopelessly beaten without being counted out. The referee then awards the bout to his opponent on a technical knockout (TKO).


The bout is decided on points if neither contestant has suffered a knockout or a technical knockout or has been disqualified by a foul. Points are scored for the number of blows landed, for a clever defense, and for aggressiveness.


The decision is usually rendered by a majority vote of the boxing judges on the basis of total points scored.