Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Dominance of Welterweights

Wall Street Journal:
Today, the welterweight class is the division heaviest in talent. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, boxing elites Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan, Juan Manuel Marquez, Keith Thurman and Kell Brook, the International Boxing Federation champion, all claim a 147-pound address.
This concentration of fistic perfection is anything but an anomaly. Among boxing’s 17 weight divisions, the glamour of the 147-pound welterweight classification is rivaled only by the heavyweight division, which has generated far fewer stars in recent years despite covering a much wider group of weights. (Heavyweights are anyone over 200 pounds; welterweights span from 140 to 147.)
How did 147 become boxing’s magic number?
The origin of the 147-pound division, boxing experts say, goes back more than a century to England, where modern boxing was developed. “In the 19th century, champions would pretty much decide what their weight limit was going to be,” historian Robert Yalen said. “However, early in the 20th century, the National Sporting Club of England voted to standardize weight divisions. They used the English unit of the stone as a measure of weight. They came up with eight traditional weight classes and wanted something between the light and middleweight—something at 10.5 stone—which is 147 pounds.”
As for the name of the division, the term “welter” derives from horse racing, said historian Barry Hugman, where it referred to the amount of weight that a horse was to carry in a steeplechase or hurdle race.
Still, why such supremacy at this poundage?
The reason lies primarily in the unique mix of talents that the 147-pound boxer possesses. “Welterweight is the perfect middle ground where speed, power and boxing technique meet,” said Mauricio Sulaim├ín, president of the WBC, one of the four major bodies that sanction championship fights. “Go lower and you lose power; go higher into the middleweight division and you lose some of the speed.”
The constant depth of the 147-pound division also is owed to pure numbers. “Most men walk around at around 160,” said former welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi. “If they were boxers, they would come down to 147 to fight.”
10.5 stones, of course.  Oddly enough, I think I fought every fight of my brief and inglorious career at 140 to 147.  Clearly, then, the weight class is also populated by a number of untalented boxers, too.

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