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ABC passes new rules to combat extreme weight cutting in boxing title fights

A major change is coming to boxing in 2019 as it pertains to weight cutting.

Terence Crawford v Jeff Horn Official Weigh In Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

The Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) held its annual convention in Orlando this week, and one of the biggest items up for discussion was a new proposal that could have a major impact on extreme weight-cutting in the sport of boxing.

On Tuesday, the ABC passed that proposal, and the new regulations will go into effect on January 1st, 2019. These key details include:

  • Second-day weigh-ins for championship fights, to be held on fight day.
  • Championship participants are not to gain more than 10% of the contracted weight. The champion would be stripped of the title, whereas the challenger would be rendered ineligible to win the title.
  • Reduction in ranking status for first offense. Outright removal from the rankings of the major sanctioning bodies for a full year if they are a repeat offender.

The full description of policy tweaks can be read below, courtesy of Erik Magraken of Combat Sports Law:

Any 8, 10, or 12 round championship Bout will be subject to a follow up weigh-in held at a time and place determined by the local commission. At this follow up weigh-in the boxers cannot exceed 10% of the Bout contract weight.

For example, if bout contract is 147lbs., 147×10% = 14.7lbs. Thus, this boxer cannot exceed 161.7lbs.

If the boxer misses weight at this second day weigh-in the bout shall continue as a title fight only for the boxer that has made weight. If the over-weight boxer wins this bout he/she cannot claim the title. If the champion is the over-weight boxer and he/she wins the bout, the title becomes vacant. It should be noted there is NO opportunity to lose weight at this Second day weigh-in. It is a onetime weigh-in.

There shall be a minimum FINE for missing weight on either day of at least 10% of the offender’s purse which shall go to the other boxer. Commissions may also choose to fine and/or issue a suspension to the offender.

The ABC shall recommend to the sanctioning organization(s) that any rated boxer who exceeds the contracted weight and/or the ten percent (10%) maximum allowable weight gain on the second-day weigh-in for any championship bout, be lowered in the ratings of any and all sanctioning organizations and not be allowed to participate in Championship bouts for twelve (12) months.

The ABC shall recommend to the sanctioning organization (s) that any rated boxer who exceeds the contracted weight and/or the ten percent (10%) maximum allowable weight gain on the second-day weigh-in for a second occasion for any championship fight, be excluded from the ratings of any and all sanctioning organizations for twelve (12) months.

These provisions shall be subject to and determined by any and all the sanctioning organizations.

While it wasn’t specified, the new rules would be implemented by all four major sanctioning bodies (WBA, WBO, WBC, IBF), although smaller sanctioning bodies like the NABF, IBO, etc. can easily follow suit, making the changes more widespread. The WBC already does 30- and 7-day weight checks for title fights, while the IBF has the 10% rule for second-day weigh-ins (except for unification bouts).

Through the Muhammad Ali Reform Act, the ABC is able to make unilateral changes in boxing, but that’s not the case in MMA, so if you’re wondering if this will have an impact on MMA fighters, the answer is no. However, ABC president Mike Mazzulli is hopeful that we will see more tweaks coming.

“It’s baby steps right now,” Mazzulli said to ESPN. “We’re doing this in boxing and we know it needs to happen in MMA as well. We need to start somewhere, and part of this is educating the fighters so they know this is going to happen. Just like the culture around drug testing years ago, they are going to know they can’t cheat on this. This is a starting point, and I believe we will have the votes to get it done.”

Extreme weight cuts in MMA usually gets the lion’s share of attention, and while data suggests that weight cuts are statistically worse in MMA compared to boxing, we are only a few weeks removed from WBC junior welterweight title challenger Danny O’Connor being hospitalized after passing out on weigh-in day, as he unsuccessfully tried to shed the necessary weight to make the 140 lbs limit for his fight vs. Jose Ramirez. ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna reported that O’Connor was in the sauna for four hours before collapsing at his hotel.

CSAC has been the clear leader in weight cutting reform in combat sports, passing a 10-point plan last year ahead of the UFC 214 pay-per-view between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones. Of note from last week’s Showtime Boxing card in Los Angeles was info showing that one of the two boxers who gained more than 10% of their body weight back on the entire card was headliner Robert Easter Jr. Under the soon-to-be implemented regulations, Easter would’ve lost his IBF lightweight title on the scales on fight day, leaving only Garcia eligible to win the belt.

It’s certainly a very significant moment for boxing and for combat sports weight cutting as a whole. This will be something to keep an eye on once the calendar flips to 2019.