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What is a rehydration clause in boxing?

Rehydration clauses are becoming more and more prominent in the world of boxing, but why is the subject drumming up so much debate? We take a deeper look at rehydration stipulations in boxing.

What is a rehydration clause in boxing?

Whilst fighters like to regain as much weight as possible between their weigh-in and the fight itself, certain fights are made with stipulations in place to restrict the amount of weight the fighters can add back on – this is referred to as a ‘rehydration clause’. 

It’s not uncommon for a fighter to put around 20-pounds in weight back on after stripping themselves to make weight prior to stepping on to the scales. 

Fighters will often take in huge amounts of calories between the weigh-in and the fight - sometimes consuming up to 30,000 calories during that crucial 24 hour rehydration period. 

However, whilst such an intake will give the fighter a size and weight advantage on fight night, it can lead to serious long-term effects for both the fighter in question and his/her in-ring opponent. 

In essence, the rehydration clause clarifies how much weight a fighter is allowed to put back on ahead of the fight, to ensure fair play on fight night.

When fights are taking place between two opponents in the same weight division no rehydration clause is inserted into the contract, however when fights are made at a catchweight - a weight between the two fighters typical fighting weights - a rehydration clause is inserted into the agreement.

This is designed to ensure that the naturally bigger man/woman doesn't hold a significant weight advantage over an opponent - owed to a heavy rehydration undertaking in the 24 hours between the weigh-in and the fight itself.

Boxing Rehydration Clause Examples

Chris Eubank Jr v Conor Benn - Rehydration Clause

Whilst the hugely-anticipated showdown between Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn ultimately failed to materialise in 2023, much was said regarding the rehydration clause in the build-up to the scheduled showdown.

At the time, Eubank Jr was operating between the middleweight (160lbs) and super-middleweight (167lbs) divisions, whilst Benn was fighting at a significantly lower weight class, in the 147lbs welterweight division.

The two fighters had agreed to a catchweight bout at 157lbs, with a rehydration clause in place, stipulating that Eubank Jr wouldn't be able to add more than 5lbs to his body weight come fight night.

A second weigh-in was scheduled to take place a few hours before the bout, although, as a consequence of the fight being cancelled, it was never proven as to whether the fighter would have adhered to the clause.

Had he not have hit the catchweight, or the rehydration limit, then Eubank Jr would have likely been fined a specific amount of money for each pound of weight he was over by; as was the case for Kell Brook, who would have had to forfeit around £100,000 for every pound he came in over the specified weight limit for his showdown with Amir Khan in 2022.

Ryan Garcia v Gervonta Davis - Rehydration Clause

Another example of a rehydration clause is the fight between Ryan Garcia and Gervonta 'Tank' Davis in 2023. 

Each fighter agreed to a catchweight of 136lbs, with a rehydration clause in place for the naturally bigger fighter, Garcia.

This meant that he was unable to add more than 10lbs in body weight on between the official weigh-in - one day out from fight night - and a second weigh-in, a couple of hours prior to stepping inside the ring.

It resulted in the then unbeaten Garcia, who had recently made the jump up into the super-lightweight division, having to drastically cut weight to adhere to the 136lbs weight limit.

Oscar de la Hoya, Garcia’s former promoter, believed that 'Tank' Davis had only agreed to the fight with such demands to take advantage of Garcia; something that was ultimately proven right as Davis stopped his opponent with a brutal body shot in the seventh round.

Generally speaking, Garcia would add around 18lbs in weight between his pre-fight weigh in and the fight itself.

Rehydration Clause FAQs

Pre-fight weigh-in...

Prior to all boxing bouts, fighters must go through the process of a weigh-in, which usually takes place around 30 hours before the scheduled fight.

A weigh-in is done to ensure that fighters meet the specified weight limit for their respective weight class, or to ensure that fighters participating in a catchweight bout meet the agreed conditions for their fight. 

Benefits of a rehydration clause...

A rehydration clause ensures fair play when fighters are participating in a bout outside of their regular weight division, especially for the fighter who is naturally the smaller of the two participants.

Controversy surrounding rehydration clauses...

Strict rehydration clauses can influence a fighter's presentation adversely, as they will not be able to rehydrate in the same manner they would normally do.

An example of this came in 2023 when Chris Eubank Sr argued that such a strict rehydration clause being imposed on his son Chris Eubank Jr for the Conor Benn bout could prove detrimental to his health.

The differing opinions between father and son drew huge attention in the media, with pundits and experts also expressing varying views and opinions on the subject.

Are rehydration clauses included in every fight agreement?

For some bouts, rehydration clauses do not form part of the fight contract.

The promoters, regulatory governing body and fighters typically influence whether a rehydration clause should be included. Catchweight bouts usually always include a rehydration stipulation.

Have boxers ever broken the rules regarding a rehydration clause?

Yes, there have been numerous fighters who have broken rehydration clauses in the past; including Mark Jacobs, who came in over three pounds heavier than he was legally contracted to do so for his world title showdown with Canelo Alvarez in 2019.

Jacobs was contracted to a 170lb rehydration clause, meaning he was unable to tip the scales above that weight on a second weigh-in on fight night.

His decision, which may have been strategic, in an attempt to gain an advantage in the bout, cost him $250,000 per pound in penalties - a figure that in total eclipsed $820,000.

Canelo demanded the clause in the contract during negotiations knowing that Jacobs was one of the largest fighters in the middleweight division, who cuts a huge amount of weight to make the 160lb limit.

Whilst the fight still went ahead, the additional weight that Jacobs was carrying made little difference as Canelo secured a comfortable UD victory to unify titles in the middleweight division.

How does a rehydration clause affect a boxer?

By restricting post-weigh-in rehydration, a rehydration clause can have a negative impact upon a fighter's stamina and strategy, whilst also adding a mental stress owing to its strict rules.

Will rehydration clauses change in the future?

Rehydration clauses are continuously being assessed by promoters, competitors and governing organisations, with the ultimate aim of ensuring fair play, safety and high fight quality.

However, the subject remains a contentious issue within the boxing world with many involved in the sport holding opposing opinions.

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