By Steve Kim: Later this afternoon, Saul Alvarez will step onto the scales where he will have to come in at - or under -152 pounds. Despite being the unified light middleweight champion, he will not have the luxury of hitting the customary 154-pound limit like he usually does. It’s a concession they made for facing Floyd Mayweather and earning a career-high payday.
Mayweather’s adviser, Leonard Ellerbe was blunt in calling Alvarez’s management “inept” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABUoKhPgZdg) for publicly announcing the possibility of them fighting at a catchweight to make this fight. This of course was refuted by Alvarez and his team (www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeMuSILZOqQ&feature=player_embedded).
Regardless of whom you believe, when the contracts were signed, Alvarez-Mayweather was agreed upon to take place at a catchweight of 152.
And while some might be loath to agree with anything Ellerbe says, the reality is it’s the job of Mayweather’s team to try and enforce every single advantage it can. They did their job by negotiating the best circumstance for Floyd to come out victorious (now never mind that it wasn’t too long ago when Mayweather himself took a not-so-thinly veiled shot at Manny Pacquiao - who started this catchweight craze a few years ago - by stating he preferred to face fighters at their optimal weight. And last year, Mayweather did face Miguel Cotto with no catchweight in the junior middleweight class. There’s no denying he comes off as a hypocrite but, folks, this is boxing. People change their minds or outright lie).
Whether or not Alvarez’s team really offered this stipulation, the bottom line is they accepted it and now a growing 23-year-old fighter (who looks like he’s destined to be a middleweight sooner rather than later) will have to prod his body to 152-pounds. In his last bout back in April versus Austin Trout, he came in at 153 and as usual, didn’t have the strongest finishing kick.
It’s not clear just how drained “Canelo” will be. But looking at the muscular and well-defined body of Alvarez, you don’t see all that much fat to be cut. Yeah, I know many of you will say that it’s “only a pound or two,” which is fine if your body fat percentage isn’t below single digits like many boxers who go through this grueling process. Ask any combat sports participant and he or she will tell you the process of making weight is oftentimes more arduous than the fights themselves.
Alvarez stated he is hovering around the mid-to-low 150s as he arrived in Las Vegas but perhaps the most untrustworthy people in this sport are fighters when talking about how much they weigh (ask any trainers who aren’t present when their fighters are stepping on a scale. They’ll tell you their charges usually lie by at least five pounds). It’s been reported that if Alvarez cannot make this cutoff, he will have a hefty financial penalty placed on him.
But you wonder; why did Team Canelo ever acquiesce to this 152-pound clause? After all, as proven in May with the reportedly tepid pay-per-view totals for Mayweather’s outing against Robert Guerrero (depending on who and what you believe, that card did between 830,000 to a million-plus buys), even “Money” needed a dance partner to really make the investment of the six-fight, $200 million deal with Showtime/CBS work for both sides. And given this promotion is taking place on Mexican Independence Day weekend and “Canelo” had shown his own star power when he drew around 40,000 fans to the Alamodome in San Antonio back in April, who else really fit the bill here so perfectly?
Yeah, he is still the B-side in this equation but he’s as strong a B-side as Mayweather, Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions could have possibly hoped for coming off the heels of the Mayweather-Guerrero fight.
The strongest leverage Jose “Chepo” Reynoso had was having a fighter who is a legitimate draw and already a Mexican icon and yet acted he had Victor Ortiz or Guerrero. There wouldn’t be any promotional spin about setting a new pay-per-view record if this was Mayweather-Devon Alexander taking place.
Perhaps Alvarez wanted this career-high payday and a shot at history, certainly understandable and admirable, but it says here they underestimated or perhaps didn’t realize their own value to this promotion.
This isn’t on Mayweather, Ellerbe or Al Haymon. This falls on Alvarez’s management.
They gave up two pounds of flesh when perhaps they didn’t really need to.
Catchweights became a huge political issue in boxing over the past few years and it was fought with the fervor of the Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Depending on if you were more a Pacquiao fan or a follower of Mayweather, you know where you stood. Now, like politicians, suddenly many are flip-flopping on this.
But here’s the reality: catchweights have been around for years and it’s going to always be a part of the sport.
And Pacquiao and now Mayweather are far from being the only marquee fighters who leveraged their star power to make their foes come in at weights that weren’t the most optimal. Sugar Ray Leonard, most notably, faced Donny Lalonde for the WBC light heavyweight and vacant super middleweight titles. Lalonde, who came in as the defending titlist at 175 pounds, was coerced to come in at 168.
So yeah, you could say Ellerbe and Al Haymon did Mike Trainer proud.
Steve can be reached at email@example.com and he tweets at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.