Photos by Ed Mulholland
VERONA, NY – Asked what fans could expect from his challenge of super-featherweight titlist Jezreel Corrales on Saturday night, Alberto Machado confidently predicted, “New world champion!” And, as it turns out, he’s right. Machado may or not win his contest with the Panamanian, but whatever happens, Corrales will be champion no more, as he surrendered his belt on the scales at Turning Stone Resort & Casino on Friday when he weighed in at 134 pounds, fully four pounds above the division weight limit. Two later attempts to make weight, one and two hours later, saw him drop to 133 ¼ without underwear, and no further.
Corrales, to be fair, looked as if he had little if anything left to give; it may simply be that he is no longer able to squeeze those extra few pounds out of his body. But he must have known how far in excess of the weight limit he was when he smiled his way through a Friday morning sit-down with HBO’s Jim Lampley and Andre Ward and confidently stated that “I want to be the best at 130 pounds.” His added poundage may end up giving him an inherent advantage in his contest with Machado, but in the long term, it could well prove deleterious to his efforts to secure future big bouts on HBO. The super featherweight division that he has seemingly outgrown is packed with talent, and Corrales’ goal would surely have been to mix and match with as much of it as possible, be it in the form of Miguel Berchelt, Orlando Salido, Jason Sosa, Francisco Vargas, Tevin Farmer – or perhaps, for a second time, Robinson Castellanos, whom he overcame via technical decision earlier this year.
The clash with Castellanos was the Panamanian’s first outing in the United States, and it did not exactly provide him with the launching pad that he would have wanted. It was an entertaining enough tussle, but it was also a scrappy affair, ended prematurely when a clash of heads left a gash on Castellanos’ head and sent the fight to the scorecards two rounds early. In that sit-down with Lampley and Ward, Corrales expressed confidence that the style matchup with Machado would be “more pretty, more elegant” than was the case against Castellanos. It may well be, but it will do nothing to further Corrales’ goal of being in the best super featherweight in the world. Win or lose, the lightweight division would appear to be his home for the immediate future; it is the Puerto Rican Machado – tall, undefeated, quietly confident and possessed of a powerful southpaw right hook – who will be looking to stake his claim at 130 pounds.
Another fighter who, as Corrales had been, is hoping that Saturday will provide him with something of a reboot is Demetrius Andrade, a former Olympian and two-time junior middleweight titlist taking his bow at middleweight against undefeated 6’5” Alantez Fox. Whether it his fault or that of others that his career, which following a late 2013 win over Vanes Martirosyan seemed poised to take the next step, has since stalled, is a matter of opinion. The past is the past; the future for Andrade is 160 pounds and the prospect of mixing with the likes of Billy Joe Saunders, David Lemieux, Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez. (Daniel Jacobs, a close friend, is a dance partner he would pursue only with the greatest reluctance.)
Andrade is light-hearted and full of confidence, making light of his absence from and return to the limelight with a joking refrain of “It’s me again!” in interview after interview; but his initial challenge at middleweight is almost literally the biggest he could have taken. Fox is a mighty long, tall, drink of water (his younger brother, just one inch shorter and fighting at a weight 20 pounds lighter, is relatively speaking even more so). It is clear he is determined to make the most of his initial impression: He showed up for his on-camera HBO interviews on Thursday neatly groomed, complete with bow-tie, and told Lampley and Ward that he is keen to prove that not all fighters have to be prototypical dunces. But his intellect will matter only if he uses it to deploy his 83-inch reach to maximum advantage and keep the more experienced, and arguably more skilled, Andrade at bay. Like Machado, he knows that he is the B side to a more compelling story; but he is also keen to ensure that whatever story is ultimately written on Saturday night, his is the name that will lead the headline.
Weights from Verona:
Jezreel Corrales: 133.25 lbs.
Alberto Machado: 130.0 lbs.
Demetrius Andrade: 159.50 lbs.
Alantez Fox: 160.0 lbs.
Weights from Belfast:
Ryan Burnett: 117.6 lbs.
Zhanat Zhakiyanov: 117.4 lbs.