Franchise Thoughts: Would Boxing Be Better With Less Weight Classes?

Over the past few days, there has been much hand-wringing in boxing's sister sport (or maybe cousin) of mixed martial arts over the Association of Boxing Commissioners' recommendation to create a total of 14 weight classes in MMA. Setting aside the rather humorous idea that the ABC even has any say in MMA - and the fact that Dana White has already stated the UFC has no intentions of following the recommendation - it got me thinking about boxing's weight classes.

Not more divisions, mind you, but less.

One of the beautiful things about the structure of the UFC is its simplicity. It has five weight classes: heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight and lightweight, with bantamweight and featherweight contested in its subsidiary, WEC. That's just five (or seven) champions to remember, making it easier for fans to keep track and giving every title fight a little more meaning.

The weight ranges in each class are 15 pounds between the lighter classes, 20 between middle and light heavy. Heavyweights can weigh anywhere from 206 to 265. Simple. No junior-this or super-that.

Boxing, of course, has the "in-between" weight classes, which allow a lot more guys to run around calling themselves world champions (especially with the multiple governing bodies) and the networks that show boxing show a lot more title fights. In a perfect world for the sweet science, though, we'd lose all the half-steps and be a lot better off.

Losing all the super/junior classes would cut us down from 17 to ten divisions. The ranges would step up gradually, from a seven-pound jump from strawweight to flyweight to a 25-pound jump from light heavy to cruiser - which, by the way, we already have.

Less divisions would undoubtedly be a match-making boon, especially for those champs (ahem, Kelly Pavlik) who now need to move up to seek more competition. For example, losing 154 would throw Oscar De La Hoya, Cory Spinks, Sergio Mora and others into the mix at 160 without requiring them to change divisions.

Manny Pacquiao wouldn't have needed to move up to lightweight because he would have been in that division for years. That goes for Juan Manuel Marquez, Joan Guzman, Edwin Valero and Alex Arthur too. How would having them in the mix with Nate Campbell, Juan Diaz and Joel Casmayor all along not have been a good thing?

I'm not sure this plan would reduce the amount of weight-cutting that goes on in boxing, because guys are always going to do whatever it takes to get to a division that looks enticing to them. But having larger weight ranges may allow some fighters to box a little closer to their natural weights, and though I'm no doctor, I can't see anything but positives in that.

Yes, guys on the smaller end of each division might find themselves a little bit more out-gunned than they do now. Still, we often see guys giving away 20 or more pounds now in the heavyweight division, and the smaller men sometimes win. It wouldn't be the end of the world.

It's all admittedly a pipe dream, as there's just too much money tied up in the status quo to think it's going to change any time soon. But with the MMA world doing everything it can to avoid getting closer to the number of divisions boxing has, it's definitely something to think about.

1 comment:

uatu said...

Keep them how they are. Any more classes except on the heavy end would be a tad ridiculous, but with more divisions comes more championship fights and more intrigue.