Opinion | Oct 02 2019

Do weight classes still matter?

Jack Hirsch considers how the greatness of boxers is now judged compared to how it used to be
Sugar Ray Robinson

THERE was a time when a boxer’s historical standing was linked to how he compared with past greats in the division that they fought in. While still true to a degree, I am afraid that is no longer primarily the case, the exception being the heavyweights who have nowhere else to go except to fight in boxings highest weight class. Even here there is talk of creating a ‘super-heavyweight’ division which in some cases would solve the difference of weight disparity, but at the same time slightly diminish the sports ultimate title.

In recent years pound-for-pound lists have taken on a life of their own. Gone are the days where people debated who should be placed where in the world ratings. Those arguments are now saved for pound-for-pound claimants. Which brings us to this: Are all-time lists within a particular weight division still relevant, and more to the point should they be? In this man’s opinion the answers for the most part are now no.

There are exceptions of course, such as for the fighters who spent their whole career within one division such as Marvin Hagler and Carlos Monzon did at middleweight. However, due to the influx of weight classes and how easy it is to jump from one to the other the age old argument of who was the best in a particular division does not have the same impact as it did years ago. Pardon me, but I grew up in an era where pound for pound lists were irrelevant, the term used exclusively for Sugar Ray Robinson and no one else. Unlike today no one compared the fighters of that era unless they boxed in the same weight division. For example I have no recollection of Muhammad Ali being placed on pound-for-pound lists comparing him to Monzon, Carlos Ortiz, Emile Griffith, or any other of his contemporaries. This is not to say that such lists did not exist, but unlike today they were not relevant. Rather the focus was on where challengers were listed in the world ratings of their particular division and how the champion compared historically to those in the same weight class only.


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