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Heavyweight is a division, or weight class, in boxing. Fighters who weigh over 200 pounds (14 st 4 lb/90.7 kg) are considered heavyweights by the major professional boxing organizations: the International Boxing Federation, the World Boxing Association, the World Boxing Council, and the World Boxing Organization.

For most boxing organizations, the maximum weight for a cruiserweight is 200 pounds. Thus, a fighter whose weight is over 200 lb may not fight as anything but a heavyweight.

Joe Louis holds the record for most consecutive title defenses at this division, with 25 defenses of the Universal title. This is also the record for most consecutive title defenses in boxing history.

Historical development

Because this division has no weight limit, it has been historically vaguely defined. In the 19th century, for example, many heavyweight champions weighed 170 pounds (12 st 2 lb, 77 kg) or less (although others weighed 200 pounds).

The first heavyweight champion under the Marquess of Queensberry rules was John L. Sullivan, known as "The Boston Strong Boy". He weighed around 200 pounds when in shape and was a bare-knuckle champion. He was defeated by Jim Corbett on September 7, 1892, in 21 rounds.

In 1920, the minimum weight for a heavyweight was set at 175 pounds (12 st 7 lb, 79 kg), which today is the light heavyweight division maximum. Since 1980, for most boxing organizations, the maximum weight for a cruiserweight has been 200 pounds.

Since the 1960s, the heavyweight title has become fractured amongst various sanctioning organizations, and so what was once known as the single "Heavyweight Champion", is now referred to as the "Undisputed Champion" as the one fighter that has defeated all the other titlists.

Professional champions

Current champions

Sanctioning Body Reign Began Champion Record Defenses
WBA (Super) July 2, 2011 Wladimir Klitschko 62-3 (52 KO) 6
WBC May 10, 2014 Bermane Stiverne 24-1-1 (22 KO) 0
IBF April 22, 2006 Wladimir Klitschko 62-3 (52 KO) 16
WBO February 23, 2008 Wladimir Klitschko 62-3 (52 KO) 12

Longest reigning heavyweight champions

Below is a list of longest reigning heavyweight champions in boxing measured by the individual's longest reign. Career total time as champion (for multiple time champions) does not apply.

Name Title Reign Title Recognition Successful Defenses
1. Joe Louis 11 years, 8 months, 8 days Universal 25
2. Wladimir Klitschko 8 years, 3 weeks and 6 days IBF (+WBA, WBO, The Ring) 16
3. Larry Holmes 7 years, 3 months, 12 days WBC-to-IBF (+The Ring/Lineal) 20
4. Jack Dempsey 7 years, 2 months, 19 days Universal 5
5. John L. Sullivan 7 years, 0 months, 9 days Universal 5
6. Jack Johnson 6 years, 3 months, 10 days Universal 8
7. James J. Jeffries 5 years, 11 months, 4 days Universal 7
8. Vitali Klitschko 5 years, 2 months, 4 days WBC 9
9. Joe Frazier 4 years, 10 months, 18 days NYAC (+WBA, WBC) 9
10. James J. Corbett 4 years, 6 months, 10 days Universal 1
11. Jess Willard 4 years, 2 months, 29 days Universal 1
12. Lennox Lewis 4 years, 2 months, 15 days WBC (+IBF, WBA stripped, The Ring/Lineal) 9
13. Rocky Marciano 3 years, 11 months, 29 days Universal 6
14. Chris Byrd 3 years, 4 months, 8 days IBF 4
15. Muhammad Ali 3 years, 3 months, 16 days The Ring/Lineal, (+WBA, WBC stripped) 10
16. Mike Tyson 3 years, 2 months, 20 days WBC (+WBA, IBF, The Ring/Lineal) 9
17. George Foreman 3 years, 0 months, 17 days Lineal (+WBA, IBF stripped) 3
18. Evander Holyfield 3 years, 0 months, 4 days WBA (+IBF) 4
19. Tommy Burns 2 years, 10 months, 3 days Universal 11
20. Michael Spinks 2 years, 9 months, 6 days The Ring/Lineal (+IBF stripped) 3

Unofficial Long Title reigns

The following title reigns are not recognized as official reigns due to: long periods of inactivity, legitimacy of title, false billing & promotion etc.

Name Title Reign Title Recognition Successful Defenses
N/A Vitali Klitschko 9 years, 4 months, 24 days Full WBC-to-WBC Emeritus-to-Full WBC (+The Ring rel) 11
N/A Muhammad Ali 7 years, 0 months, 11 days The Ring/Lineal 11
N/A Brian Nielsen 3 years, 7 months, 20 days IBO 5

Most wins in heavyweight title bouts

Name Title bout wins
1. Joe Louis 26
2. Wladimir Klitschko 23
3. Muhammad Ali 22
4. Larry Holmes 21
5. Lennox Lewis 15
6. Vitali Klitschko 15
7. Mike Tyson 12
8. Tommy Burns 11
9. Joe Frazier 10
10. Evander Holyfield 10
11. Ezzard Charles 9
12. James J. Jeffries 8
13. Floyd Patterson 8
14. Rocky Marciano 7
15. Jack Johnson 7
16. Jack Dempsey 6
17. Nikolai Valuev 6
18. George Foreman 5
19. Chris Byrd 5
20. John Ruiz 5

Key

     Active Title Reign
     Reign has ended

Analogous uses

The word "heavyweight" is sometimes used in other fields (e.g. politics) to denote a person who is especially powerful or influential. In this context, "big beast" has a similar meaning. Other boxing analogies include "punching above his [their] weight" to denote a person or entity (e.g. a country) whose influence is arguably greater than his/its basic attributes would suggest.

Kickboxing

  • In kickboxing, a heavyweight fighter weighs between 88 kg (196 lb) and 100 kg (220 lb). The Fighters over 100 kg (220 lb) are considered super heavyweights.
  • In Glory promotion, a heavyweight division is over 95 kg (209 lb) and no upper weight limit.

See also

  • List of heavyweight boxing champions

References

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