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October 7th, 2002

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12:54 am - A good big 'un will always beat a good little 'un
cygnusfap recently wrote "what do you mean by a "catchweight contest"?". I composed a reply, it got rather long and I decided that it had probably turned into a full entry - albeit a highly technical one - in its own regard.

A catchweight contest takes place in boxing when two people from different weight classes fight each other - for instance, a heavyweight against a middleweight. (I hope the analogous "catchweight contest" I referred to in my last entry is now clear and also that it doesn't cause offence.) There's a little more to it than that; there is implicit recognition that this is a one-off contest, rather than the middleweight announcing an intention to fight as a heavyweight in the future and possibly fight other heavyweights later.

By contrast, see the saga of Roy Jones Jr., who started as a middleweight and has moved up to light-heavy, possibly going on to challenge John Ruiz in the future for his WBA heavyweight title. Presumably he would intend to be considered a heavyweight in the future and fight other heavyweights later, so his challenge would probably not be considered a catchweight contest.

However, the WBU have started a catchweight world title, but that's just wrong - almost by definition. In their case it's so that a featherweight (126 lbs.) can take on a junior lightweight (130 lbs.) at the half-way point of 128 lbs. The catchweight designation had some importance in the old days when there were only eight weight classes, but now there are seventeen - and evidently this is not enough. Quibbling over four pounds is hardly in keeping with the old boxing traditions. The Sunday Times (that'd be the South African Sunday Times!) has a rightly scathing article about the same.

Frankly the principle is vaguely reasonable if you have the patience of a saint but the name is wrong. We want something that logically between "featherweight" and "super featherweight". I recognise that "super" is being used in its Latin sense of "above" here and so the law of the excluded middle applies, so I fear there is probably no better name for it than "a bit super featherweight".

Lest we forget, this is the WBU here, who have shown precedent of starting completely unneccessary weight classes in the past. Step forward "super cruiserweight", the 210 lb. division which nobody needs. (Indeed, it could well be argued that the cruiserweight - 190 lb. division - is somewhere like sixteenth in importance out of the current seventeen.) Stooooooopidy stoooooopidy stooooooopid.

I can't find hard evidence for this, but I believe Evander Holyfield fought at about 210 lbs. when he won the World Heavyweight Championship (that's the World Heavyweight Championship) back in 1990. Given that the heavyweight championship is the absolute championship, this is good evidence that someone whose natural weight is 210 can take on the world and win, thus making the super-cruiserweight division as spurious as inter-continental titles. (Apparently Roy Jones will fight Ruiz at about 190, so if a 190-pounder can take on the world then it says very little about the state of the cruiserweight division.)

There is one extremely marginal use for the super cruiserweight division; it is so that people weighing between 190 and 210 lbs. who do not wish to be specific about their weight can refer to themselves as being "a super cruiserweight" rather than "a heavyweight".

Incidentally, it's worth looking to see what other combat sports do in the same situation; they generally tend to have traditionally set their "light heavyweight" divisions at somewhere around the same level as boxing's 175 lbs. or so and found that they've needed to invent another weight class between "light heavyweight" and "unrestricted". Judo set their highest restricted weight boundary at 100 kg and call it "half-heavyweight", which is quite charming. I think I've also heard it referred to as "hundredweight" in the past for obvious reasons. Judo are by no means perfect in their nomenclature, though; while their lower weights avoid the convoluted chain of welters, feathers, bantams and flys, they go (downwards) lightweight / half-lightweight / extra-lightweight / super-extra-lightweight. Surely sub-extra-lightweight, folks? (For that matter, why the name "cruiserweight", other than that cruisers are great big heavy ships which aren't quite as big as fully-fledged destroyers?)

Audley Harrison had his seventh fight on Saturday night. The BBC showed it not-live and spoiled the result in advance on their web site. (Thanks, lads!) Audley gave a decent performance, putting away someone with a prior record of 12(10)-3. He wasn't the worst sort of bum - presumably that designation must go to his ten knockoutees - but he probably was about the second lowest order of bum pro boxer, a first-level NPC fighter, if you will, as opposed to the famous generic "0th level Normal Man".

There were a couple of pretty good light-flyweight (108 lbs.) bouts on the same card and this got me thinking. Light-flyweight is the second lowest division, with a 105 lb. division below it variously referred to as strawweight, minimumweight, mini flyweight or (rather contemptuously) paperweight. It's also true that there's really not very much between 105 lb. fighters, 108 lb. fighters and 112 lb. fighters - they tend to skip up and down a division with the greatest of ease.

Famous world strawweight champion "Baby" Jake Matlala was only 4'10" or 4'11" tall. However, there are many fully-grown adult males in this world who do not reach this height. OK, by "many", I'd guess "possibly 1 in 1000", but that means there are still three million of 'em in the world today and thirty thousand of 'em in Britain. A good number. (My guess may well be out by an order of magnitude in either direction, but the point still applies.)

If they grow proportionately yet keep themselves fit, they might find that their ideal fighting weight could be less than 105 lbs. Why shouldn't there be a 102 lb. division, or a 99 lb. division for that matter? Admittedly we're getting into "World Dwarf Games" territory when we drop below 4'10" and there comes a point when most stop enjoying such boxing matches as legitimate sporting contests and start enjoying them as freak shows (cf. the famous masked Mexican midget wrestlers) but it strikes me as a valid concern. OK, so there's a bit of "reductio ad..." going on here (albeit not quite technically "reductio ad absurdum") but the question must be asked: how low would you go?

Shall I rant in full over the absurdities in nomenclature differences between boxing's weight classes? Oh, go on then. Why do you frequently have light heavyweight and light flyweight (and, slightly less frequently, light middleweight and light welterweight) but not light lightweight? (To be fair, this is probably exactly why people sometimes refer to junior middleweight, junior welterweight and junior lightweight.) If junior bantamweight is a fairly-frequently used synonym for super flyweight, why don't people say "super strawweight" for junior flyweight? Why isn't cruiserweight "super light heavyweight"? And why hasn't amateur boxing's "super-heavyweight" division title generally caught on?

Nurse! The screens!

(In other news, Prime95 happily chugged away at the stress test for twelve and a half hours without putting a finger wrong. I shall try it out on the real calculation again and if it doesn't burp with supposed possible hardware errors then I shall blame the temporary aberration on the now-distant-history Project Dolphin software.)
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Date:October 10th, 2002 07:50 am (UTC)
Sorry I didn't reply to this before! I read it a few days ago and was a bit busy at the time...

But I did find it very interesting. Thanks!

And yes, I see what you mean about the catchweight contest you referred to.

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