In combat sports being heavier is, in and of itself, considered a significant advantage.

Therefore, a smaller fighter can usually only win against a heavier opponent if the fight is otherwise biased towards the lighter competitor. Examples:

  • If the heavier opponent is monstrually obese to the point that their weight gimps them (eg Yarbrough vs Hackney?);
  • If the lighter fighter has significantly more skill to the point that if there was no weight disparity the fight would be clearly unfair;
  • If the fight is a scripted, theatrical performance rather than genuine competition.

It is rare to see a fair openweight competition nowadays, however, they were more common in the past. Was there any event when a significantly smaller fighter could actually overpower the heavier one in a fair fight? This means that the heavier opponent did not have ridiculously large body fat percentage, the fight was not otherwise biased towards the lighter fighter to the point that if there was no weight difference it would be unfair, the fight was not scripted and there were no other loopholes I failed to predict here?

NB: I tagged this question mma, boxing and amateur wrestling because I'm interested in any combat sport here and that which sport has the highest chance of this happening can perhaps be considered a part of my question?

  • 1
    Hi - welcome to the site. You'll need to edit this question some to make it on topic. In particular, what level of competition are you asking about? I'm sure in any high school wrestling competition you see this regularly - when there's a big variation of skill. Are you talking about in belt fights? If you don't narrow it down to a relatively narrow set, the question is going to stay too broad.
    – Joe
    Jan 30, 2022 at 3:05
  • @Joe "when there's a big variation of skill" - I explicitly excluded fights where there is a large disparity of skill between competitors. I hoped it was clear from the question that I required both fighters to have comparable skill levels. "narrow it down to a relatively narrow set" - The problem here is that, to my understanding, the situation I'm asking about is relatively rare so I think I have to broaden the search space to have any hopes to find it? (cont)
    – gaazkam
    Jan 30, 2022 at 7:27
  • "what level of competition are you asking about" - Not sure how to answer that. "Professional" for example doesn't seem to be a particularily useful answer, since it would exclude (among others) Olympic boxing. "Amateur" would be even less useful, since it allows pretty much anything. "Olympic" excludes any combat sport not represented in Olympic games, "UFC" would be even more limiting: to a single federation of a single sport; this would mean I'd need to ask several similar questions with the only difference being the particular sport (or even federation).
    – gaazkam
    Jan 30, 2022 at 7:34
  • But I understand that "any level of competition that ensures that only fighters of the same skill level are matched" is not allowable?
    – gaazkam
    Jan 30, 2022 at 7:35
  • No, "any level" would be too broad, because that includes so much that it would have an infinite of answers. Typically, for example, if someone asked a question of this nature about basketball, we'd ask them to either limit it to a particular league (NBA, NCAA Div 1, etc.) or at least to the professional ranks in some cases - but in many cases even "professional" would be too broad, given the major differences in leagues and huge number of them.
    – Joe
    Jan 30, 2022 at 13:59

1 Answer 1


I'll give a starter of Valuev vs Haye: Valuev weighed in at 143 kg, Haye at 98 kg - or in other words, Valuev was 46% heavier than Haye.

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