The incomparable Rocky Marciano is generally regarded as one of the greatest Heavyweight Champions of all time – many would argue THE greatest. He’s the only Heavyweight Champion to retire undefeated at a ridiculous 49-0. He had an astonishing 43 knockouts, giving him one of the highest knockout ratios in the history of the division. He beat legends like Joe Louis, Jersey Joe Walcott, Archie Moore, and Ezzard Charles to name a few. He was the undisputed “King of The Heavyweights”. Yet many fans and pundits argue that Rocky would not have fared so well today. Why?
Because even more remarkable than Marciano’s storied career was that he achieved what he did while being only 5′ 11″ and 185 lbs! Never mind Heavyweight, today Rocky wouldn’t even be a big Cruiserweight. Even if he had had the benefits of modern training, nutrition, and healthcare, the best Marciano might have come in at in modern times? Maybe 6′ 1″ and 200 lbs. – a virtual baby in 2020’s Heavyweight scene.
Other than Primo Carnera, Jess Willard, and one or two others, most of yesteryear’s heavyweights scaled in at around 190 – 210 lbs. Many were 6′ tall or less. No matter how skilled he may have been, it’s hard to imagine what Rocky (or any of the fighters of his era) would have done against Nicolai Valuev and his enormous 7′ tall, 300-plus lb frame. Pretty tough to hit a guy in the jaw if you need to stand on a stool to reach him.
Enter this idea that’s been bandied about for some time now about creating a new “Super-Heavyweight” division. In truth, the idea isn’t that new as it’s been employed in the Olympic Games since 1984 to account for the ever increasing size of some of the boxers in what had simply been the Heavyweight division. But in the Olympics, the Super-Heavyweight division is for amateur boxers who are 200 lbs or more – again, hardly big by today’s standards.
On its face, the idea isn’t a bad one at all. But it won’t work in the pro game. The title, “Heavyweight Champion of The World” has a long history as being the most prized title in all of sport. It’s champions are often legends; bigger than life, and in some cases, they become the most recognized faces on earth. It would be absolute suicide for the sport to mess with that legacy.
Yet something needs to be done. We just can’t have 5′ 10″, 200 lb guys trying to win a title in a division where 6′ 6″ and 250 lbs has become “average”. With the notable exception of Mike Tyson, successful heavyweights today are huge. (Even Tyson wasn’t “small”, just short). It’s not good for the fans, the sport, or the fighters.
So what do we do? I think we need to adjust the weight brackets somewhat. As it currently stands, a Heavyweight is classified as any boxer weighing 200 lbs or more. A Cruiserweight comes in between 176 and 199 and a Light Heavyweight is between 168 and 175. That doesn’t make sense to me.
There’s a reason why we have weight divisions in boxing. We intuitively understand that all things being roughly equal in terms of skills, training, and desire, a flyweight at 5′ 1″ and 108 lbs can’t very well succeed against a guy of 6′ 7″ and 280 lbs. In fact, he’s probably going to get himself killed. So to keep fights competitive and relatively safe, we have divisions for every 3 to 7 lbs – until we get to Cruiserweight and then it’s all out the door.
Let’s take a closer look, starting with the lightest weights.
- Atomweight to Strawweight: 3 lb difference
- Strawweight to Jr. Flyweight: 3 lb difference
- Jr Flyweight to Flyweight: 4 lb difference
- Flyweight to Super Flyweight: 3 lb difference
- Super Flyweight to Bantamweight: 3 lb difference
- Bantamweight to Super-Bantam:. 4 lb difference
- Super-Bantam to Featherweight: 4 lb difference
- Featherweight to Super-Feather:. 4 lb difference
- Super-Feather to Lightweight:. 5 lb difference
- Lightweight to Super-Light:. 5 lb difference
- Super-Light to Welterweight:. 7 lb difference
- Welterweight to Super-Welter:. 7 lb difference
- Super-Welter to Middleweight:. 6 lb difference
- Middleweight to Super-Middle:. 8 lb difference
- Super-Middle to Light-Heavy:. 7 lb difference
- Light-Heavy to Cruiserweight: 15 LB DIFFERENCE
- Heavyweight:. Over 200 lb
There’s a 15 lb spread for the Cruiserweight and no limit at all for the Heavyweight!
So I say, let’s make some adjustments. Let’s make the Middleweight division 155 to 168, Super Middleweight from 169 to 180, Light Heavyweight 181 to 200, Cruiserweight, 201 to 225 and the Heavyweight division 226 or better. This way, we keep fights competitive in terms of size and we don’t mess with the allure of the Heavyweight Championship of the sport. That’s the Holy Grail of boxing. Because I for one, don’t want to see anymore blown up Cruiserweights who’ve held their camp at a Golden Corral Buffet so they could weigh in at 215, fighting guys who make Hulk Hogan look.small. Nobody wins then.