The World Boxing Council announced that they will be implementing a new weight class, called the “Bridger Weight”, in honor of a kid that saved his sister from an attacking dog.
The first World Title fight will happen next year, but does boxing actually need a new weight class? World Boxing Council President, Mauricio Sulaimán, claims it does because Heavyweight Champions have grown in size, leaving boxers that weigh between 200 (90.72 kilos) and 224 pounds (101.6 kilos) without an appropriate weight class.
In his late dad’s (José Sulaimán’s) blog, Mauricio points out at 24 Heavyweight World Champions from the XX Century, of which the first 19 weighed below the 200 pounds, but he then turns to the XXI Century Champions and the lightest is Deontay Wilder (USA), at 219 pounds.
The rest are 238 or heavier. He says that natural human growth is pushing for this new weight class in the same way that weight classes have overall doubled in number in the last century.
Now let’s take a look at the top fighters that have weighed between 200 and 226 pounds in their last two fights: top man would be Oleksandr Usyk (UKR), who is 18-0 and dominated 255.5-pound Dereck Chisora (ENG) in his second Heavyweight bout (Usyk was previously the Cruiserweight Unified World Champion).
The other top fighter could be Alexander Povetkin (RUS), who knocked Dillian White (ENG) out cold with a powerful shot for the WBC interim Heavyweight title, three months ago, weighing in at 224 pounds.
Another World-Class contender would be Michael Hunter (USA, 18-1-1, drew with Povetkin last time out). Murat Gassiev (RUS, 27-1) weighed in 198.25 when he lost to Usyk for the Cruiserweight title before he had his Heavyweight debut -at 230.5 pounds!- with a 1-Round KO.
The other top 25 fighter according to Boxrec would be Bryant Jennings (USA, 24-4) and the only other top 35 would be Frank Sánchez (CUB, 16-0).
I thought about Tomasz Adamek (POL), who was World Light Heavy (2005-07) and World Cruiser (2008-2009) Champion before jumping up to the Heavyweight, where he was never able to equate his success.
But interestingly two of his five defeats would have been against fighters eligible for the Bridger division while he did defeat heavier boxers, so weight might not have been the issue.
Some media (Ring) and experts have complained and tried to mock the WBC but we will give the WBC the benefit of doubt in this one.
There are a few boxers that could make for great fights (especially of we consider the heavier Cruiserweights) and it could potentially save injury while we could also not be making boxers try to gain more weight as soon as they are on the Heavyweight division (Gassiev, for example) and it could provide for a smoother transition.
And hey, if someone like Usyk or Povetkin could rock the Heavyweight division then worst case could be that they could be World Champions in both weight classes.
Time will tell if the Bridger weight is redundant but so far no new weight class has proved to be, even if some people were reluctant to change and to their adoption at first.
What is a fact is that even if you are a Heavy 200-pound boxer, facing a 273-pound Tyson Fury (ENG) is still fighting a boxer that is 73 pounds heavier. At that weight class, punches hurt bad.