The term “catchweight” is used in combat sports like boxing and Mixed Martial Arts, referring to a weight limit that is not within the standard weight class limits.
Both parties negotiate and agree upon the catchweight, following the traditional weigh-in rules and a day before the match.
Catchweight provides both fighters with a level playing field while also preventing weight mismatches during a match.
Catchweight in Boxing
In boxing, “catchweight” strictly refers to the weight limit for the fight that both fighters agreed to after a negotiation.
It follows the rules of traditional weigh-ins, which happen on the day of the match. But for catchweight, the weigh-in is the “day before”. Catchweight became what it is when the eight divisions in boxing were extended into seventeen.
Back when boxing only had eight-division limits, they used to describe a catchweight by the agreed weight. They also do the weigh-in on the day of the match, often just hours before.
Weigh-ins on the day of the match became a thing of the past when television came to be. During the golden era of Muhammad Ali, boxing promoters wanted to generate publicity even before the match.
They wanted to gain more viewers, thus leading to weigh-ins being televised a day before the match. In boxing, however, bigger boxers can reduce their weight before the weigh-in and then regain it on the day of the fight. It’s possible to do so with little effect on their performance.
This ability is why “catchweight” exists, put in place to avoid weight mismatches and ensure that the playing field is level. At the same time, catchweight ensures no cancellation happens due to last-minute disagreements.
The Controversy about “Catchweight”
There is a lot of controversy about the use of catchweight in the boxing industry. Many fans are not fond of it, and fighters who initiate it are often criticized.
A lot of people, especially fans, think that catchweight is unfair. In the past, boxing was a fight between the best of the bests - just two boxers vying for the title of the best boxer.
Today, however, boxing has become all about money with plenty of politicking behind it. Things have changed, and it’s now uncommon for fighters not to call out each other and abruptly cancel a fight that isn’t in their favor.
Because of this, the boxing world now resorts to setting a bar in the form of catchweight. However, it is not always a bad thing as it provides a middle ground for fighters from different weight classes who want to duel.
Arturo Gatti vs. Joey Gamache Weight Mismatch
One notorious example of a catchweight fight is the match between Arturo Gatti and Joey Gamache. Gatti nearly killed Gamache in their fight, knocking him out in the second round.
However, Gamache’s handlers sued Gatti after allegedly gaining 19 pounds since the weigh-in, which happened a “day before” the fight. As a result, Gatti had quite an advantage in his match against Gamache.
Gamache was smaller than Gatti, and the mismatched weighs caused the former severe injuries that nearly killed him. Because of this incident, many boxing commissions began to weigh fighters a second time.