Should There Be a Height Limit for Weight Classes in Boxing?

Cliff Eastham@RedsToTheBoneSenior Writer IIDecember 1, 2009

After all the crying I witnessed in a recent article, I thought this would be a fair question for debate.

The article in question was “Could Manny Pacquiao Beat Paul Williams at 147?″ Apparently, the better question would have been "Could Pacquiao beat Williams at 5'6"?"

I don’t understand the absurdity of such a fight. Boxers who haven’t had the notoriety that "Pacman" has garnered fought taller men every time out, sometimes as much as seven or eight inches taller.

The same fans who decry such a fight had no problems calling Floyd Mayweather a “ducker” for not fighting Williams. The difference in height between "Pretty Boy" and Pacman is an inch and a half. So, obviously, with Mayweather it is no big deal, but with Pacman it is suddenly a munchkin trying to throw hands with Godzilla.

To address the title question here, what would be a reasonable maximum height for welterweights—5'11" or just under 6'0"?

It is an absurd question and an absurd defense to be used. Fighters have been gauged by their weight since the inception of weight classes.

Sam Langford was the same height as Manny Pacquiao and fought fighters from light-weight all the way to heavy-weight. In Fact, Nat Fleischer (Bert Sugar’s old boss) rated Langford as one of the 10 best heavyweights of all time.

Langford never won the heavyweight belt. He was beaten by Jack Johnson by decision in 1906. Against Johnson, Sam gave up seven inches in height and 29 pounds (156 vs. 185), yet went 15 grueling rounds and was never afforded a rematch by the champion.

So, you see, like the old adage goes, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it is the size of the fight in the dog.”

Mike Tyson and Rocky Marciano, who both stood only 5'10", were constantly at a height and reach disadvantage. Marciano was undefeated and Tyson was seemingly invincible until he met up with Buster Douglas.

History is replete with smaller men who defeated their own “Goliaths.” A man should not be penalized or disenfranchised from fighting the best fighters because he lives inside a tall frame. The smaller man, by the same token, should not use that as a defense from fighting the best.

Boxing is ruled by weight, not height. Fighters have grown through the decades. When they made 176 pounds the threshold to enter for the heavyweight division, I doubt they expected heavyweights to average 6'3" and weigh 238 pounds. Athletes of today, in all sports, are bigger, stronger, faster, and have more endurance than the “average” athlete of yesteryear.

So, as John Prine put it so well, “A question is not a question, if you know the answer too.”


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