Floyd Mayweather is the betting favorite. But if the weigh-in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday afternoon is any indication, Victor Ortiz will definitely be the crowd favorite.
With ring announcer Michael Buffer and comedians Kevin Hart and Paul Rodriguez acting as emcees, the fans booed every mention of Mayweather and exploded for every utterance of the underdog Ortiz’s name. Not that anyone should be surprised that the Mexican-American fighter would own the crowd on Mexican Independence Day weekend. Ortiz brought fans both from his native Garden City, Kansas and his adopted hometown of Oxnard, California, not to mention those without any geographical allegiance who simply support Ortiz—or are praying for somebody to finally defeat Mayweather.
It was Mayweather—the title challenger, ostensibly, but the man with more to “defend” in a sense—who entered the arena first, looking relaxed and vaguely dapper in a forest-green track suit. “Vicious Victor” came out next, to resounding chants of “Or-tiz! Or-tiz!” from the approximate crowd of 4,000, though it’s uncertain how much of his fan support he could hear with his oversized noise-canceling headphones on.
There was a brief discussion between the fighters over what the weigh-in order would be, and Mayweather apparently won the debate, as it was Ortiz who stripped down to his boxer shorts first. He looked chiseled and confident as he scaled the welterweight limit of 147 pounds. But then Mayweather and his famous eight-pack of abs showed what “chiseled” really looks like, and Buffer announced his weight as 146½.
Ortiz played to the crowd, and his supporters let loose with a chant of “41-and-1,” which is how Mayweather’s record would read if he loses on Saturday night. The crowd reached new decibel levels moments later, when Mayweather and Ortiz engaged in what has become something of a tradition: the nose-to-nose, jaw-to-jaw verbal joust that can only end when managers, trainers, and bodyguards yank them apart.
This time, however, Mayweather got his right hand around Ortiz’s neck for a moment before they were separated. It’s hard to know whether that inappropriate use of hands gave him the upper hand mentally going into Saturday’s showdown, or whether it will spur Ortiz on to an emotional edge.
On the scales for the undercard fights: Erik Morales and Pablo Cesar Cano both weighed the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds, and the 21-year-old Cano didn’t seem fazed at all by the moment … For a non-title bout with a 142-pound limit, Jessie Vargas came in at 142, Josesito Lopez at 140½, and an intense staredown gave way to shoving that did nothing to diminish the sense that this could be fiery battle … And at Staples Center in Los Angeles, a smiling Saul “Canelo” Alvarez scaled 153½ and a deadly serious Alfonso Gomez came in at 152½ for their junior middleweight bout.