Catchweights - What and Why?
Martin Theobald

Catchweights seem to be a huge talking point right now.  Over the last couple of months we have seen 3 high profile fights take place outside of the standard weight limits – Miguel Cotto vs Daniel Geale, Andre Ward vs Paul Smith & Shawn Porter vs Adrien Broner.  

Historically catchweights were used to allow two fighters in different weight classes to 'meet in the middle', offering no advantage to either fighter.  But of the 3 listed above, all of the fighters have fought in each others divisions before.  Cotto vs Geale was a Middleweight title fight for the lineal belt taking place below the Middleweight limit!  We all know Cotto is naturally a light-middle at heaviest, but being the A side fighter he could drag Geale's weight down to suit himself.  The result; a gaunt looking Geale who lacked the zest in the ring that we have seen over the years.

So will we start to see catchweights becoming more popular in UK boxing?  We asked Robert Smith, General Secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control:

"The issue has never been raised in a Board meeting here" Robert tells me.  "Personally, I have no issue with it.  If the weight the fight is agreed at isn't sensible then you shouldn't agree to it - we haven't had to discuss it in depth yet."

So in other words, keep it sensible and there is no need to interfere from the board.  There are cases of overseas promotions where less ethical use of catchweights has been used – I have had one story recounted of a promoter in Europe running a catchweight fight between a middleweight and a heavyweight…that took place at heavyweight!  Stories like that are rare, but show where there can be misuse. 

For the small hall shows, the chances are that catchweights won't be used.  Typically promoters look to make competitive bouts between up and coming fighters that are looking to build up their resume, win or lose.  

For the more high profile shows in the UK, the promoters will typically bring in overseas fighters if they are looking to build their fighters resume.  In this scenario it is common to see fighters from lower weight classes be brought up in weight to be matched against the home fighter.  There is no advantage to the home fighter in committing to a weight category he isn't comfortable at.  So instead of the use of a catchweight, you end up with a fighter fighting in a foreign weight category.  This in itself is potentially a more dangerous activity. 

Until we start seeing big names fight each other on these shores, don't expect catchweights to be a huge issue in the UK.  In the meantime, get used to the idea by tuning in to the PBC cards in America!


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