14.10.05 – By Joseph Carlo Russo: Amidst the recent Castillo/Corrales scandal, we have all come to question the state of boxing’s weight classes. Some of the older, nostalgic fight fans might remember a time where weight classes were defined by ten pound intervals. During this time, making weight was not as much an issue or a task as retaining a consistent weight was. After all, these men would fight within their respective weight classes, not having to lose or gain much weight except that which was purely excess. A three-four pound weight difference among fighters was not considered an advantage or a handicap, and rightfully so. Unless, of course, the fighter weighing more had comprised a method for concentrating his three pound weight advantage in the core of his knuckles. But, that is highly unlikely, so this issue was never pertinent.
So, why we all ask. Why double the amount of champions who have already been quadrupled by the amount of belts? From straweight to jr. lightweight the weight classes are separated by three-four pound jumps.
These lighter weight divisions get minimal coverage as it is, so why perform a further disservice to these fighters who receive little to no exposure, except for what they earn in their respective nations. How sensible is it that an undisputed lightweight champion must be relinquished of his crown in order to compete in the jr. welterweight division that spans five pounds heavier when in fact the lightweight fighter walks into the ring at 150lbs anyway? Will the jr. welterweight possess that significant an advantage in such a match? The answer is no. From 135lbs to 140lbs, the fighters are virtually of the same caliber. Diego Corrales is taller and packs a bigger punch than most, if not all, of the top ten jr. welterweights. Jose Luis Castillo probably throws the meanest hook from lightweight all the way up to about super middleweight where Jeff Lacy dabbles.
So, why has Corrales and his camp made such a crime out of Jose Luis Castillo’s measly two pound weight advantage, which eventually turned into that of a three and a half pound? What would the story have been if Corrales had knocked Castillo out in the fourth round instead? Would Castillo have complained? After all, the day of the fight, Corrales weighed 150 pounds to Castillo’s 147. If Corrales and his camp claim that Diego did such an astronomical amount of extra work than Castillo had, causing Corrales to be a more drained, lesser fighter on October 8, then maybe Corrales should think about moving to a more suitable weight class instead of condemning Castillo. Let’s imagine Castillo had made weight at 135 and was therefore weakened by it. Now, what we have here is two fighters who aren’t 100% and are about to compete in one of the most intense activities known to man in a highly anticipated event that people are paying to see. There is clearly a larger issue at hand in this situation than that of Castillo not making weight.
Increasing the amount of weight classes may increase pay for fighters and generate more money due to the sheer volume of fights alone. But, in the long term, when observing boxing from a more farsided standpoint, this system only hurts the sport. And, in hurting boxing, one is tampering with a wounded animal.
Adjustments must be made to boxing’s weight class system. It is a dying sport and the abundance of divisions is a substantial part of the problem. A more compacted system of weight classes would do much for benefiting boxing. The unfit, mediocrity in divisions and sub-divisions would surely be filtered out leaving nothing but the best of the best and cream of the crop. In addition, potentially new spectators may find the sport more easy to comprehend, making it more enjoyable to watch while augmenting its fanbase.
As the beautifully glorious sweet science that we have all grown to love as boxing progresses, I am afraid that it is constantly on its bicycle. It is not fighting to win, but rather to make it to the end and hope to score a close decision. And as true lovers of the sport, we can only hope that it doesn’t get caught with a clean shot. For, the next time it does, it may indeed stay down for the count.