Oh to be a heavyweight where you don’t ever have to worry about cutting weight and can eat as much as you want and not have to worry about what the scales are going to say. For everyone else though, it’s not that simple and you need to adhere to a set weight limit otherwise you will not be able to fight or you’ll have punishments placed against you.
Cutting weight is more difficult for some people than others as some fighters will naturally settle into a weight division, while others can be just creeping inside of it. It also gets difficult as you get older due to the fact that your body retains more body fat as you age so it becomes harder to stay in the same weight division.
One great example of how much a boxer has to cut weight is Tony Bellew who started his career in the light-heavyweight division. In his last fight in that division he managed to get under the 12st 7lbs limit and if you look at him in that fight, he looks a shadow of the man that he is now. In his title-winning fight in the cruiserweight division against Ilunga Makabu at Goodison Park he came in at a weight of 14st 3lbs which is a huge difference already.
Against David Haye though the Liverpudlian boxer fought in the heavyweight division and came in at 15st 7oz, which just shows the progression that he made throughout his career, as you can see there he fought three stone heavier than he did in his last fight at light-heavyweight, which is a dramatic difference and shows the sacrifices and the pain that he must have gone through in order to cut weight for that fight.
Why Boxers Cut Weight
As I’m sure you know, boxers have to fit themselves into a weight category which will be pre-determined before you fight. Choosing which weight you should be fighting at can be tricky as you never know what weight you’ll be able to get down to until you actually get there. Even if you’re fit and in shape then your current weight isn’t going to be the one which you see on a set of pre-fight scales.
That is because you are going to cut weight before a fight, generally by reducing your water intake which you will then add on before your bout. If you don’t do this then you’re going to be in a whole world of trouble as you’ll be fighting against some that has made weight.
If you head onto the scales like you would do at home and register, say 160 pounds, then this is going to be a middleweight. Then you see a much taller opponent heading onto the scales and see that they too have weighed in at 160 pounds. By the time it comes to the fight they have been able to rehydrate and you haven’t meaning that you could well be facing an opponent what could be over a stone heavier than you by the time you fight.
That is how much boxers can rehydrate and that’s why you have to cut weight which can be dangerous. In an ideal world cutting weight would be banned as it can be a dangerous game that can put your health at risk if you try and take it too far. To enforce this though would be difficult and need an entire rethink from all the governing bodies, which isn’t going to happen.
Some contracts have a clause in there that a fighter can only weight an ‘X’ amount more the day of a fight, which can help, but unless you are measuring fighter’s body water percentage before a fight then there’s not a lot that can be done. We have seen fights in the past where one boxer has no energy due to cutting weight too harshly and ends up getting easily beaten.
So cutting weight is a necessary evil in boxing and something that every fighter has to conform to, unless you’re a heavyweight of course. You need to find the right balance between cutting weight but still being able to be full of energy and full of health when that first bell rings. That can take time and patience as well as getting the right advice. The bare fact is though, unless you want to be fighting people taller, heavier and stronger than you, you have to cut weight.
How To Cut Weight In Camp
There is no point in getting to a few days before a fight trying to rely on a few shortcut techniques in order to lose weight at this need to be done long before you ever get to the weigh-in. This involves first and foremost having a balanced and healthy diet and one which will ensure that you lose weight.
To do this you need to ensure that you have a calorie deficit each day, probably of around 500 calories and you need a low-fat diet that is going to be full of protein. You also need carbohydrates as well in order to keep up your energy levels but this should be gradually reduced when you get close to your weigh-in day.
You should try and stay as close to your fighting weight a possible so that when you cut weight, you know that you’re going to easily be able to hit the right mark before your fight. While cutting down your take intake, you also need to ensure that you’re getting the right minerals such as calcium and eating leafy vegetables is a great way to do this.
Cutting weight in camp is no mystery and simply involves cutting weight the way that anyone should if they are a boxer or not and that is just to eat fewer calories than you consume but ensure that the calories that you are taking are full of protein and nutrients to keep your body your body healthy while having enough carbohydrates to keep up for energy.
It almost goes without saying but your health is the number one priority here which is why you need to cut weight slowly and ensure that at no point you are starving yourself. Things can be a bit trickier in your fight week but you need to ensure that you’re putting yourself in the best position to be able to cut weight in that final week in a safe and controlled way.
- Ensure a calorie deficit
- Low-fat, high-protein diet
- Lose weight slowly
- Keep a balanced diet
How To Cut Weight For a Weigh In
So you know you have to cut weight, you know to get yourself in the right position and now comes the time when you need to take that last bit of weight off so that the scales say exactly what you want them to say.
So how do you shed a load of weight just before a fight? It might seem impossible but when you know that the body is made up of around 70% water then you probably know what types of things we’re just about to say. You need to be able to lose a large amount of that water if you want to cut weight down.
Obviously the way to cut weight for a weigh in isn’t a permanent way to lose weight at all, otherwise you’ll eventually die of dehydration, it’s an extreme short-term method of losing weight specifically for a fight which you will then put all back on before your fight.
You need to start off by drinking an excessive amount of water in a day, which sounds counter-intuitive but it’s all about the science. If you flood your body with water then it will keep hold of any sodium that it has and clear out all the potassium in your system. All you need to know here though is that due to this, more water is extracted from your cells when you start to cut down your water.
About five days before the fight you want to be drinking about eight liters of water, on the forth and third days you want to drink around half of that amount of around four liters. Two days before your weigh-in you want to half that again to around two liters and then the last day before weigh-in you half it again to just a liter. From this point you don’t drink any more water until you have weighed in for your fight.
In that last week as well you need to seriously limit for carb intake to less than 50 grams a day as carbs will take and store water in your body. Make sure that you don’t starve yourself and eating high-quality protein is the way to go with such foods as chicken and leafy vegetables. In your diet too, you also need to not eat any salt as this is another substance that holds onto water.
If you still aren’t shedding enough water then you need to sweat and sweat a lot. This can be done on a running machine, in a sauna our taking a very hot both but whatever method you take, you need to be able to sweat out that last little bit of weight before your fight. Being in somewhere hot and humid is the best bed and a bath is effective as you can cover your whole body.
In all honesty, it’s horrible and you hate it and everyone around you will hate it too as you’ll be in a terrible mood and won’t be feeling great. As soon as you step of those scales though it’s time to relax and rehydrate, ready for that fight. Eat a lot after your fight but keep it healthy and soon you’ll be feeling on top of the world again.
- Reduce your water intake in the days leading up to your fight
- Sweat out water via baths or sauna’s
- Seriously restrict any carbohydrate intake
- Don’t eat any salt at all
- Stick to eating high-quality protein
After a bit of help to cut for a fight? Check out this video on how cut both quickly, but safely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why don’t boxers just move up weight?
A: Every boxer needs to find their optimum range for being the most effective boxer they can be. You only need to imagine what would happen to a boxer if they stayed at their natural weight without having to cut any.
A fighter like Canelo Alvarez would probably walk around between fight at around 180 pounds which would make him a cruiserweight but if you put him in at that weight vs someone like an Oleksander Usyk then the results aren’t going to be pretty, regardless of how talented you are.
Key measures such as reach and height can be huge advantages in boxing and if you didn’t cut weight then you’d lose these valuable assets. If you bulked up on muscles then this would only slow you down which is why the tried and trusted method of being a world champion is to keep your muscles mass down and cut weight for the scales.
There does come a point though that you are draining yourself so much before a fight that it no longer becomes your optimal fighting weight and that’s where you will move up. You’ll still have to cut weight though, it’s just that it’d be a lot easier to manage.
Q: How much weight will be gained after the weigh-in?
A: The amount of weight that you can gain in a day just after drinking some water and having a good meal is astounding to some people but you can gain around 20-30 pounds in weight. Now everyone has different body types and some people cut weight a lot more easily than other.
This is why it’s important to know why much you will be able to cut weight before a fight and you’ll want to know how much you can rehydrate. Once you know this, then you’ll know how you can healthily cut down weight whilst remaining strong after the weigh-in.
Q: Is cutting weight dangerous?
A: Yes, it certainly can be, which is why you need to do it in a sensible and safe way. Before a fight you are restricting your food intake whilst you also become dehydrated. This is one of the worst parts of boxing but as we discussed, at the top level, it has to be done.
If you cut weight the right way then you’re not going to have any problems at all and you’ll be fighting fit when it comes to fight night. If you’re really starting to struggle to make a certain weight, then it’s best to move up the weights and have a much more relaxed camp.