boxing [moving up a weight class]

Hi Guys, I was watching boxing and the commentator said that a fighter was moving up to a higher weight class.
How do they do that ? I can’t believe they train less, so, do they train differently or do it with diet ?

Moved to the Game Room, and title edited to better indicate subject.

General Questions Moderator

Here’s a forum that discusses it.

For a lot of boxers it is a matter of getting older. Often the body naturally puts on weight over time. A fighter is successful at a certain weight but then finds that he is having more and more difficulty in making that weight. That is not good because if it can get to a point where the boxer will lose strength and endurance because of the focus on weight loss. The fighter can also become dehydrated which can become a dangerous situation during a bout. Weigh-ins are often conducted a day before a fight. When the fighter enters the ring he may be 5 or more pounds heavier from the day before.

So some fighters, as they age, move up in weight in order to fight at a weight that is more natural for them. If they are skilled enough, the extra strength and bulk is an advantage.

Careful dieting and training. It’s quite an art. In addition, you could probably gain or lose three pounds just by drinking or not drinking water for twelve hours before weigh in.

Couldn’t access Chefguy’s link from work so apologies if this duplicates what it contained, but as I understand it, a big part of boxing is ensuring you get down to as low a weight as you can without losing muscle mass. I’m not a boxing expert by any means, but it’s all about power-to-weight ratio. Fat decreases this because it adds weight but no power. Or to put it another way, every person has a theoretical minimum weight from their skeleton, organs etc - the goal in boxing is then to make everything else (i.e. muscle mass) contribute to your fitness and power, without adding any excess weight, to make you the most powerful boxer in your weight category. Of course, skill comes into it as well but essentially the reason boxing has weight classes is because without them, the heavier guy will usually win.

Now, going up a weight class usually occurs when someone has dominated their current weight class and decides they have the skills and the power to make it at the next level. So they train even harder, and change their diet to get up to the next weight. They don’t want to get to the next weight by just training less and putting on fat, as that would be a losing strategy (in general).

Boxing has about a million weight classes with as little as 3-5 pounds difference between many of them. If a fighter is going to move up a weight class, it’s probably because of a couple reasons:

  1. They’re aging and getting naturally heavier (a 19 year old will put on a lot of muscle mass if he’s training every day into his 20’s)
  2. They’ve cleaned out the competition in their natural weight class.
    Or 3. There’s a big money fight to be had at a higher weight.

Now as to HOW to do it, that’s a matter of training and diet (most boxing camps will have full time nutrionists, chefs and strength and conditioning coaches on hand full-time for this very reason), yes, but often times due to weight cutting as someone above mentioned. However weight cutting can be on the scale of 20-30 pounds, not just 5. By dehydrating themselves a boxer could weigh in at 173 pounds the day before the fight “making weight” and then walk into the ring at 195 the next day. During training this same boxer could be over 200 pounds (referred to as “walking around weight”), who then diets down to the 190’s during the last weeks of training camp, and then dehydrates down to his weight class. If he’s moving up a weight class, this could also just be because he’s cutting less weight than before, either because of age or medical reasons since weight cutting is hard on the kidneys.

In any case, this is very common in many combat sports, and a large percentage of fighters will fight at many weight classes over the course of their careers.

No argument. What did there used to be, something like 8 weight classes? Now with all the pretend governing bodies it has gotten to the point that weight classes were created to accommodate individual boxers and create a match-up that could be billed as “World Championship”. It’s a travesty and a piece of what has ruined boxing.

they don’t “do” anything
they just weigh in at their natural weight
instead of cutting (massive dehydration prior to the fight)

Yeah they went from 8 weight classes to almost 20 now since the early 80’s. That and the 20 different leagues and blatantly corrupt judging and referring has turned boxing into a joke.

If it’s a one time special billing or catch-weight fight then yes, sometimes. But if it’s a permanent career move then there’s usually a lot of planning, training and dieting to be done. Just cutting less weight will put them at a size and strength disadvantage vs their opponents who ARE cutting weight.

In MMA this is of special importance since the weight classes are 10-20 pounds apart, and arguments about cutting ruining endurance aside, it’s very easy to see guys getting outpowered by clearly much larger opponents if they don’t move up weight correctly. Then there’s guys like BJ Penn and Dan Henderson that fight in 3-4 different weight classes depending on how many Big Macs they feel like eating on any given week, so there are always exceptions.

This is the truth of it in most cases. Many boxers are not fighting in their natural weight division but go the extraordinary lengths to drop down to a lower weight. Since they weigh in well before the fight They can boil down, weight in dehydrated, rehydrate and eat and actually get in the ring at a heavier weight. Even years ago when their were less weight divisions guys could get in the ring a weight division above what they weighed in at. Australian world champion Lionel Rose used to sit up before the weigh in spitting into a bucket to help lose weight.

Here Tony Bellew, a few days ago, talks about his weight struggles.

Yeah, boxing has a zillion weight classes, which is why quite a few of the all-time greats below heavyweight won titles in four or five different weight classes.

A more interesting situation IMO is that of MMA or amateur wrestling, where a move in weight class implies a change of 10, 12, or 20 pounds on the day of weigh-ins. There, changing weight classes is a serious career move, and the art of cutting weight properly is a major factor in the outcomes of the matches.

It’s true. Wrestlers dominated MMA for a long time, and although partially it was because wrestling is a great base for ground fighting, I also think it’s because wrestlers coming in off amateur careers were bigger and stronger than anyone else in their divisions because they were the only ones that were cutting weight properly. And also they likely had more experience with steroids and other PEDs than your average karate or judo guy but that’s a whole other discussion.

Things would look different if the weigh ins were right before a fight. Fighting weight is usually quite different than weigh in weight. Some guys can cut a tremendous amount of weight then put it back on before they step into the ring.

This is correct. If a fighter doesn’t do anything to add muscle mass and simply cuts less weight prior to a fight than he would at a lower weight class he (or she) is going to be at a disadvantage compared to somebody cutting significantly to get to that weight.

Pacquiao is the record holder in that regard - he’s won titles in eight different weight classes.