Cruiserweight is a weight class in boxing between light heavyweight and heavyweight. Before the advent of the current cruiserweight class, "light heavyweight" and "cruiserweight" were sometimes used interchangeably in Great Britain.
The current weight limit for the division is 200 pounds, but this limit dates from 2003. When originally established, the weight limit was 190 pounds (although in 1981 the World Boxing Council (WBC) set the limit at 195 pounds, but later lowered that to 190 pounds). The term "cruiserweight" had also been used in the United Kingdom as an alternative name for the light heavyweight division during the mid-1900s.
The division was established in order to accommodate smaller heavyweight boxers who could not compete with the growing size of boxers in that division. While many great heavyweight champions (such as Rocky Marciano and Joe Louis) weighed around 190 pounds in their career, during the 1970s it became fairly standard that heavyweight boxers weighed 220 pounds or 230 pounds. It was felt by many boxing authorities that asking men weighing between 176 pounds and 190 pounds to fight these larger men was unfair.
The WBC was the first boxing organization to recognize the cruiserweight division when it sanctioned a bout between Marvin Camel and Mate Parlov on December 8, 1979, for their version of the title. That fight was a draw, but in the rematch in March 1980 Camel won and became the first cruiserweight champion. In 1982 the World Boxing Association recognized Ossie Ocasio as their first cruiserweight champion when he defeated South African Robbie Williams (although at that time the WBA called the division "junior heavyweight"). The International Boxing Federation followed suit in 1983 when it matched former WBC champion Marvin Camel against Rick Sekorski for their inaugural title. Camel won and became the first IBF cruiserweight champion.
This division has received little respect from many boxing writers. This is partially because it is common that after some success at this weight, good cruiserweights decide to add some weight and campaign in the heavyweight division. This is what happened with the first unified cruiserweight champion, Evander Holyfield. After unifying the WBA, WBC, and IBF titles, he moved up to the heavyweight division in 1988. On January 7, 2006, then IBF champion O'Neil Bell became the second undisputed champion by knocking out Jean-Marc Mormeck to capture the Frenchman's WBA and WBC belts, unifying the titles once more. Englishman David Haye became the third undisputed champion when he TKO'd WBO champion Enzo Maccarinelli to unify the belt with his WBA and WBC titles. On March 12 2008, Haye relinquished the WBC cruiserweight title, ending his undisputed reign.
Other notable champions in the division have been Bobby Czyz, Virgil Hill, Alfred Cole, Orlin Norris, and James Toney. The only current champion is Steve Cunningham (IBF), after David Haye recently vacated the WBA, WBC, WBO and Ring titles to continue his career at heavyweight.