Weigh-In: Wait is Almost Over as Pacquiao, Rios Make Weight

by Kieran Mulvaney

[Click for Slideshow] Manny Pacquiao (left), Brandon Rios (right) - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Eight o'clock in the morning is really too early to be watching (mostly) skinny young men stand on bathroom scales in their underwear, and judging from the slightly muted atmosphere in the Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena, fighters and fans alike felt the same way. There were hundreds, rather than thousands, for the official weigh-in, staged early in Macau in order to stream live on Friday evening in the United States, but there was no doubt about the allegiance of those who did show up, even if few of them had had the opportunity to caffeinate sufficiently before whooping and hollering for their man.

Not that Brandon Rios cared about the boos from the Filipino contingent, cupping his hands to one ear and then the other, beaming, and making a “Look at me, this is what it’s going to look like when I put a title belt around my waist” motion. That waist, by the way, appeared a little bit more expansive than Manny Pacquiao’s; but then Rios has never possessed the most svelte of physiques. By his standards, though, he looked fighting trim, and actually weighed in one half pound under the 147 lb. welterweight limit.

Pacquiao, as always, looked in perfect shape, and boasted his characteristic beatific smile, soaking up the cheering, struggling as ever to keep from grinning during the face-off with Rios, and then departing the stage – perhaps, like the writers who grumbled about being forced to work so early, to take a nap.

It has been a long and slightly strange week, but now suddenly the end is near. The epithets, the insults, the kicks, the complaints: all are in the past. Pacquiao doesn’t have to see Rios, or vice-versa, for another 26 hours, and the next time they are in each other’s presence will be the only time that matters. The bell will ring, the fight will be on, and the truth will be just around the corner.

Weigh-In Live: Chavez Jr.-Martinez

Business and Pleasure Don’t Mix at the Weigh-In

By Kieran Mulvaney

Manny Pacquiao - Photo Credit: Will Hart

There has long been an apparent dichotomy when it comes to Manny Pacquiao. Outside of the ring – even on his way to the ring, as he smiles and waves at his fans – he speaks quietly, laughs innocently at his own jokes, and professes his love for a wide variety of people, up to and including past, present and future opponents. Inside the ropes, once the bell rings, he is a brutalizing force, bludgeoning the likes of Ricky Hatton into unconsciousness, Miguel Cotto into retreat and Shane Mosley into effective submission. And then, the bell rings to end the fight, and the other Manny materializes again.

Timothy Bradley is less of a study in extremes. During the build-up to Saturday’s clash with Pacquiao, he has been eloquent, thoughtful, and calm, certainly; but by the time of Wednesday’s press conference, he was demonstrating an expression of consistent intensity, not demonstrably different from the one he will likely wear in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night.

And so it was at Friday’s weigh-in, the final pre-fight public appearance for both men, before a crowd of several thousand that was cheering almost exclusively for the fighting congressman for the Philippines. After stepping off the scales – Pacquiao weighing 147 lbs., Bradley 146 – they stood nose-to-nose for the traditional face-off, Bradley exuding menace and Pacquiao, who has never been able to take such  rituals seriously, dissolving into giggles.

Immediately afterward, HBO’s Max Kellerman asked Pacquiao why he was laughing.

“Because I am happy.”

Why did he think Bradley was so serious?

“I don’t know.”

Kellerman turned to Bradley, and asked him to explain his severe expression.

“Because I’m ready for war. I’m ready to prove everybody wrong.”

Not everybody, corrected Kellerman; there is no shortage of observers who think he may spring the upset. Why did he think that is?

“Because they know how hungry and determined I am, baby.”

A study in emotional contrasts. Will Bradley’s intensity remain, and will Pacquiao’s ramp up, come fight time?

Go to HBO.com for more fight info.

Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins: Weigh-In

by  Kieran Mulvaney

Photo: Ed Mulholland

Maybe it all started with the belt.

At the end of the final pre-fight press conference before the first in-ring encounter between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal, the plan was for the two men to pose with Pascal’s WBC light-heavyweight belt. Instead, Hopkins took it for himself, and when the champion made a move to snatch it, he moved it behind his back, like a teenager tormenting his kid brother with a game of keep-away. Pascal lost his cool, Hopkins goaded him with undoubtedly barbed comments, there was pushing and shoving and a net result in which Hopkins, not for the first time, appeared to have burrowed his way into an opponent’s head.

Since then, the tension has only increased. Their confrontation in the ring left neither man defeated, but each feeling deprived of victory. In the buildup to the rematch, Pascal unexpectedly and suddenly suggested Hopkins’ fistic longevity had to be the result of artificial enhancement, screaming at him repeatedly to “take the test.” At the weigh-in for Saturday’s rematch, in a crowded ballroom at the Sheraton hotel near the Bell Centre where the fight will take place, the apparent dislike escalated further, each man in the other’s face, exchanging insults, continuing to strain forward and hurl epithets even as handlers pulled them away.

The crowd, largely pro-Pascal, of course loved it.

Levity returned, along with Hopkins, about an hour later. The former champion, having surprisingly weighed in four ounces over the 175 lb limit, returned now and logged a couple of ounces under. Asked how he had shed the extra weight, he smiled his famous gap-toothed smile.

“I told you I was full of s**t,” he joked.

Watch The Morales-Maidana Weigh-In Today at 5PM ET



Official Weigh-In: Gamboa vs. Solis

Atlantic City, NJ. Friday, Yuriorkis Gamboa weighed in at 126, while his opponent, Jorge Solis, tipped the scales at 125.5. On the undercard Mikey Garcia registered 125 and his opponent, Matt Remillard came in at 125.

Photo: Will Hart

See more at HBO.com

Coin Toss: The Final Weigh-In

by Peter Nelson

At 3:30 p.m. on Friday, the official weigh-in between 140-lb champions Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander was held in a banquet room of the Silverdome. Through a large window  pane opposite the dais, the view immediately overlooked 55,000 seats which will not be in service Saturday night of the venue’s 70,000 seat capacity, beyond which were large blue tarps partitioning a small corner for the ring, like a church scaled down to a single pew. For an event reportedly struggling to sell tickets, the room was packed with press, fans, and the families of the boxers.

Photo by Will Hart

Before the scales could be tipped, however, another matter needed resolution: Because Alexander holds the WBC title, Bradley the WBO, and both are undefeated, a coin toss determined who would walk into the ring first and who would be announced last. Alexander called it in the air, and no one within earshot, particularly Bradley, could have missed Alexander’s trainer Kevin Cunningham exuberantly shouting, “We win.” The St. Louis native decided to walk out second, giving Bradley the consolation to be announced in the ring last. The subsequent scowling reflected two fighters irritable from making weight and ready to fight. 

The two fighters stripped down. Alexander came in at 140 lbs and Bradley at 139.5. Bradley, a strict vegetarian during his training regimen and the son of an amateur bodybuilder, lays claim to one of the most muscled physiques in boxing. Out of training, he often will walk around about 160 lbs, so to get down below 140 has some believing he had to cut muscle (not water weight or fat) to lose his final ounces. 

Largely due to his experience against overall superior competition to Alexander’s, Bradley is the favorite tomorrow night, although Alexander is four years younger, an inch taller, a half-pound heavier, with a two-inch reach advantage, a higher knockout percentage, and a strategic head start in fighting from the southpaw stance (Bradley last faced a lefty two years ago when he defeated Junior Witter for his first world title). 

Stylistically, it will be critical for Alexander to neutralize Bradley’s best two modes of attack: his right hand and his head-butt. Feints, a quick jab, and lateral movement should help him to this aim. Given his Herculean physique, Bradley for this very reason sometimes seems to have difficulty throwing straight punches and opens himself up the middle. Properly set up, Alexander’s straight left could be his top asset.

For Bradley, maintaining his ferocious work-rate through the late rounds will allow him an edge, in addition to cutting off the ring on Alexander, forcing him to fight toe-to-toe. Despite Alexander appearing to have the superior chin (having never been knocked down so much as knocked out in 21 professional fights and over 400 amateur), Bradley should by now have the boxing intellect to set up shots that allow him to steer clear of Alexander’s powerful uppercut. 

The winner of this fight will likely be pressured to face Amir Khan to unify the entire 140-lb division. From there, a truly viable candidate to fight Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao will have emerged. While the loser of this fight is guaranteed another date on HBO, the road ahead of him to superstardom becomes that much longer. The winner of Bradley-Alexander earns not only unified titles, increased exposure, and the respect of fans, but most importantly a well-earned shortcut to vast earning potential and possibly cementing a legacy in a storied division.

Alexander-Bradley Official Weigh-In

Shot of The Day: Thanksgiving Weekend In Las Vegas

Saving Face

by Peter Owen Nelson

Freddie Roach hates shaving, so it was with schadenfreude on Friday morning that he spoke eight words: “I’m going to make Margarito shave his beard.” 

Photo by Will Hart

In Olympic boxing, beards are not permitted, but no clause technically bans beards in chapter 61 on combat sports of the Administrative Rules of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Roach, however, was convinced that “I will win this argument [with the commission].” 

The stratagem was designed to make Margarito expose his chin against his will before he even entered the ring.

That argument over the hairy stalagtite dangling off Margarito’s chin would have taken place at 2 p.m. in the Longhorn Exhibit Hall of the Gaylord Hotel at the rules meeting. Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito would not be present for the meeting, but their teams would be.

Cornermen of the both camps gathered before representatives of the Texas State Athletic Commission and the World Boxing Council (the sanctioning body overseeing the title bout). Roach sat quietly. Margarito’s team of trainer and co-managers cross-examined the commission’s statements about electrolytes as regards to whether Margarito would be permitted to drink Gatorade. When asked if Margarito particularly likes Gatorade after all the fuss, his co-manager Sergio Diaz replied, “I don’t really know.” 

The 8-ounce Reyes gloves to be used were then opened and each corner tested them. No beards were disputed, due to an unexpected man’s upending of Roach’s scheme: Manny Pacquiao.

An hour earlier, Roach exited Pacquiao’s fourth-floor suite after divulging his intent to his fighter.  Pacquiao may have seen the value in distracting his opponent by demanding he deface himself, but the congressman of Sarangani would not comply, telling Roach, “I want him to keep the beard. It’s my target.”

Roach deferred to his fighter, saying, “Whatever he wants. If it makes Manny happy, we’ll keep the target — and hit Saturday all night long.”