Home » What is bridgerweight? Boxing’s 18th weight division explained | Sporting News United Kingdom

What is bridgerweight? Boxing’s 18th weight division explained | Sporting News United Kingdom

On May 24, Lawrence Okolie will seek to become a two-weight world champion at the expense of  WBC bridgerweight titleholder Lukasz Rozanski in Poland.

The London-born Okolie was expected to move directly to heavyweight but the former cruiserweight king has elected to take a pitstop in boxing’s latest division. 

New weight classes and more champions are not high on your list of wants if you’re a fight fan.  However, temptation finally got the better of WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, who officially introduced the bridgerweight division in November 2020.

MORE: SN’s Top 12 best heavyweight boxers

Unlike younger weight classes such as super middleweight and cruiserweight, the bridgerweight division has been a slow burn. Of the four sanctioning organizations, only the WBA have followed suit, and it took them three years to do so.

The Sporting News takes a deep dive into boxing’s latest weight division.

What is bridgerweight in boxing?

The bridgerweight division might be best described as super cruiserweight. The weight limit is 224 pounds, with the idea that smaller heavyweights no longer need to tackle behemoths, such as the 270-pound Tyson Fury if they want to win a title.

In November 2020, the WBC issued a press release explaining their decision to implement an 18th weight class into professional boxing.

“We have decided to create a new division, called ‘Bridger,’ as it is the necessary bridge to serve the large number of boxers who are between 200 and 224 pounds.

This name is inspired by that hero of humanity, that 6-year-old boy who during the [Covid-19] pandemic heroically saved his 4-year-old sister from an attack by a wild dog…Yes, this new division is inspired by Bridger Walker!

You can read more about Bridger Walker’s story via the New York Post, here.

Back on topic, interestingly enough, Oleksandr Usyk holds three heavyweight championship titles and has never weighed over 221.5 pounds.

Will the other sanctioning organizations adopt bridgerweight?

The IBF is yet to address bridgerweight, and there’s nothing to suggest that the New Jersey-based organization is interested in doing so.

Meanwhile, WBO president Paco Valcarcel felt the need to comment on the new weight class after the WBA made its move official in late 2023.

“Having 17 divisions in professional boxing is more than enough,” Valcarcel wrote on Twitter (X). “The Jr. Heavyweights or cruisers, from 175 to 200 is a fairly ‘colorless division.’ Imagine another ‘extended cruiser’ … The changes are not always good and many times trying to improve, we damage the image of boxing.”

Neither Ring Magazine nor BoxRec recognizes the bridgerweight division at this time.

Who is Lukasz Rozanski?

Rozanski (15-0, 14 KOs) is a marauding 6-1 heavyweight from Poland. The 38-year-old is known to British audiences thanks to his first-round demolition of previously unbeaten U.K. favorite Alen Babic last April.

It was the Babic blowout that saw Rozanski lift the WBC bridgerweight title that he will defend against Okolie in May.

MORE: SN’s top-12 pound-for-pound boxers

How many bridgerweight champions have there been?

There have only been three bridgerweight champions.

The inaugural WBC titleholder was Oscar Rivas, who defeated Ryan Rozicki in October 2022. Rivas vacated the title in early 2023 and was succeeded by Lukasz Rozanski.

On December 9, Evgeny Tishchenko defeated Leon Harth to claim the first WBA bridgerweight championship.