NEW YORK — When WBO and WBC bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire weighed in at a surprisingly light 116.25 pounds compared to 117 for WBO junior bantamweight titleholder Omar Narvaez, there was a collective whoosh of astonished reactions among the observers who had packed into the tiny Peyton Room of the Affinia Hotel for Friday’s pre-fight weigh-in.
The 28-year-old Donaire (26-1, 18 KOs) was the bigger man, after all, having tipped the scales at 118 pounds for each of his previous bantamweight bouts — a fourth-round knockout of Wladimir Sidorenko in his division debut in December of last year, and a follow-up second-round stoppage of three-division titlewinner Fernando Montiel in February.
Meanwhile, the 36-year-old southpaw Narvaez (35-0-2, 19 KOs) was supposed to be the smaller man, yet he weighed-in at a career-high for his bantamweight debut.
So when Donaire’s numbers were read aloud, the man nicknamed “The Filipino Flash” swiftly stepped off the scale, briefly turned his arms skyward and shrugged his shoulders in disbelief.
Who was to blame? Nutritionist Victor Conte, of course.
“Exactly. It was a surprise to everybody, and everybody looked at me,” said Conte. “A Top Rank [Inc.] official looked at me and said, ‘Victor, what happened?'”
Conte believes that the official scale was weighing the participants light.
“We brought a scale down to the official one, then they calibrated it exactly, took it back up to the room, had it on a flat surface with no carpet on anything else,” said Conte. “On that one, Nonito weighed straight up at 118, and then came down to their scale and weighed in at 116.25.”
Also winner of IBF flyweight and interim WBA junior bantamweight belts, Donaire’s will face Narvaez in an HBO-televised bout that is taking place at WaMu Theater inside Madison Square Garden, marking the debut at the venue for both fighters.
Trainer Robert Garcia said Donaire weighed 124 pounds prior to a Thursday evening workout, and was “about a pound and a half over about an hour before the weigh-in” before sweating it off.
Despite the fact that Donaire has admitted to walking around at “about 145 pounds” when he is not in preparation for a fight, Garcia said that he was not worried about Donaire.
RingTV.com caught up to Donaire in the Affinia Hotel’s lobby on Friday evening for his perspective on the weigh-in and to address concerns about the potential effects of his extreme weight-loss measures.
UPDATE: Donaire weighed 131 pounds at 1:54 a.m. on Saturday after this interview.
RingTV.com: So what is your take on what happened?
Nonito Donaire: First of all, I don’t think that I can make 116. But I guess that the scale showed 116. I mean, my scale in the room said straight up 118 to me.
When I had to come down in weight, I was cutting down the last pound upstairs. I had to do it twice. I was at 118.4 pounds and I dropped it down to 118-flat. You know?
I went down and when I stepped onto the scale, and when it said 116 — boom — I was shocked and surprised. So, I felt that even the guy was heavy.
Narvaez, had to be 119, because I always based my weight on that scale, and the past two times before, it was at 118. It had never gone wrong. I don’t know.
RingTV.com: So what is your conclusion about the fact that the official scale read 116.4?
ND: I don’t know. It’s a digital scale. What I have is a digital. What they had was digital. They put it on a [platform] where a lot of people were stepping on the [platform] and it was on top of a carpet.
A lot of things could have been wrong. A lot of things could have contributed to the fact that it gave a different reading. But I don’t think that I ever weighed as light as 116 today.
RingTV.com: What do you think your true weight was?
ND: Well, I know that I was 118. I know that I’ve always checked myself and it has read that I’m 118. I always known where I need to be. It’s always been that way.
I’ve never ever made a mistake. The only difference usually is like a half a pound or a quarter of a pound. It’s never been two pounds.
RingTV.com: For all of the fans and those who have heard about your well-documented increasing difficulty in making weight for this fight, what can you say to quash their concerns about the potential for having perhaps over-trained?
ND: Well, I mean, there’s really nothing else that you can say except that I’m confident. That’s one thing that I have is confidence. I’m ready the fight.
I’m ready for anything. I can go 12 rounds, I can go 24 rounds. I’m ready for this. It’s not going to make a difference if I cut down. I mean, I know how to cut.
I’m really smart in knowing my body and knowing my health. It doesn’t matter if I had to go down to 115. It’s still going to be the same thing. I know how to cut.
RingTV.com: But you have also stated that this is your last fight at 118, so you know when to move up in weight, right?
ND: Yes I do, and this is it. Even if I went to 115 or 116, and even if I know how to do it the right way, I just don’t want to go through what I had to go through today again. [Laughs.]
You know what I mean? So I feel great. Now I’m fully recovered and I still have a lot more hours to go, and I mean I feel great. Trust me.
RingTV.com: What did you have for dinner tonight?
ND: I a great steak. We went to [Kobe Japanese Steakhouse.] I had a steak and mashed potatoes. And it was just a lot of food.
But the ratios of carbohydrates and proteins were good. Two hours after the weigh-in, I was weighing 128 pounds on my own scale. So right now, I’m probably at around 130.
I’ve got to go and check it. I’m getting there. I’ve got to go and get some chicken noodle soup, and I’m going to be set. I’m good to go.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com