LAS VEGAS – Typically weigh-ins are drab affairs where boxers disrobe and step onto a scale the day before they enter the ring. The only drama occurs when one of the boxers fails to make weight. And the only spectacle is if one of the boxers is completely nude and someone drops the towel in front of him as he’s standing on the scale.
Golden Boy and Mayweather Promotions tore up the book on weigh-ins on the eve of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Saul “Canelo’’ Alvarez junior middleweight championship match at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night. They produced an epic event with the scope and scale of a rock concert, complete with pulsating club music and 12,200 screaming fans – many of whom began lining up on Friday morning to attend the afternoon weigh-in.
“In all my years of boxing I’ve never seen anything like this. This is amazing,’’ said Shane Mosley.
And that was saying something considering Mosley has seen his share of major boxing events. He has twice beaten Oscar De La Hoya, the founder of Golden Boy Promotions, and was the only man on stage to have stepped into the ring against both Mayweather and Alvarez.
Anticipating an overflow crowd, the MGM and the promoters decided to open the entire 16,000-seat arena for the weigh-in for the first time. It was the largest crowd to ever attend such an occasion at the arena and several hundred people were turned away. Typically only half the venue is open for a weigh-in. The previous record for a weigh-in crowd at the MGM was about 8,000 for Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton in 2009.
With the actual fight being sold out within hours of tickets going on sale, it was the only live look at the boxers that the fans, many in Las Vegas to celebrate Mexican Independence Day weekend, would get.
Before the boxers weighed in, Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather Promotions introduced the boxers on their rosters. Their images were beamed from large video screens in the arena as they were walking through the crowd to the stage as if they were making a ring walk for a big fight.
Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, used the occasion to tease boxing fans with upcoming matches. He had Amir Khan and Devon Alexander stand together and talk about a possible Dec. 7 match in New York. He had Adrien Broner and Marcos Maidana pose together to whip up anticipation for a Dec. 14 bout at the MGM.
It was a pro-Mexican crowd as many were in the crowd to support Alvarez, who was born in Guadalajara. Mayweather received most of the boos when he was introduced and after he stepped off the scale. He weighed 150.5 pounds.
Mayweather had drawn the ire of Alvarez and his fans by asking the 154-pound champion to fight at a 152-pound catchweight. It’s a perceived advantage for Mayweather, whose biggest wins have been at welterweight or below. When it was announced that Alvarez weighed 152 pounds, the Mexican icon threw both fists in the air and the crowd cheered.
When the two boxers stood in front of each other for the face off, Mayweather was yakking at Alvarez, who stood unblinking like a statue. Mayweather, who will earn $41.5 million, tried to get Alvarez to hold the special solid gold WBC belt that was crafted for the winner of the match. Alvarez refused.
When Jim Gray, the Showtime interviewer, asked the 23-year-old Alvarez if he was ready for what awaited him in the ring against Mayweather on Saturday night, Alvarez was resolute.
“I was born ready,” he said in English.
The crowd went wild.
Photos by Ethan Miller-Gettyimages