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Early in his career, boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr., fought as a lightweight.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Watch any National Football League game and you'll often see players who weigh less than 200 pounds competing against 350-pound opponents. In boxing, opponents are considerably more evenly matched. Boxing and other fighting sports have weight classes to ensure fighters compete against opponents of the same weight. In boxing, the lightweight class fighters are notable for displaying lightning-fast speed.
Lightweight Weight Limit
A boxer who wishes to compete as a lightweight at the professional level must weigh between 130 and 135 pounds, according to the International Boxing Organization and World Boxing Organization. Although many people think of a weight class as dictating a fighter's maximum weight, it also governs a fighter's minimum weight. Among the weight classes in the sport, the lightweight class is roughly in the middle. In U.S. amateur boxing, lightweight fighters must weigh between 126 and 132 pounds.
Other Weight Classes
If you're a professional fighter and you find it challenging to weigh between 130 and 135 pounds, you have the choice of competing at a lower or higher weight class. The super featherweight/junior lightweight class accepts fighters who weigh no more than 130 pounds and no less than 126 pounds. If you weigh more than 135 pounds, the ideal weight class for you is likely junior welterweight, in which you must weigh between 136 and 140 pounds. Amateurs can fight as a featherweight -- 120 to 125 pounds -- or a light welterweight -- 133 to 141 pounds.
Notable Lightweight Fighters
In boxing, it's common for a fighter to compete in a lower weight class early in his career and then move up through the weight classes throughout the years. Multiple title holder, Manny Pacquiao, for example, competed as a flyweight at 112 pounds early in his career, had a brief stop in the lightweight division midway through his career, and in his 2012 defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez, weighed 147 pounds. Notable fighters who once competed as lightweights include Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Shane Mosley.
Making weight can be an arduous experience for any fighter. If a fighter has contractually agreed to fight as a lightweight but has a "walking around" weight of 145 pounds, he'll train vigorously to drop his weight to the acceptable range by the day of the weigh-in, which is typically 24 to 48 hours before the fight. If the fighter struggles to make weight, he'll often wear a rubber suit while exercising to lose water weight through sweat, and then rehydrate after making weight.