Watch Your Weight
By Rico Navarro
Sun, 15 Oct 2006
The boxing world has been rocked lately by booboos of popular boxers who did not make the weight limit for crucial title fights. Diego Corrales weighed in at 140 pounds for his defense of the WBC lightweight title last week. The limit? 135 pounds. He was stripped of his title and Joel Casamayor went on to win the title via a split decision. The irony of it all was that Corrales' previous fight was called off because his opponent (Jose Luis Castillo) also weighed in over the limit. In the local scene, the most glaring over the limit incident of late was ex-ALA Boy Czar Amonsot hitting 135 pounds for his WBO Asia Pacific super featherweight title fight. This was five pounds above the super featherweight limit of 130.
But why all the fuss about making weight? What's all this business about weight classes and all those "funny" names of weight divisions from "straw," to "fly," "bantam," "feather," "light," "welter," "middle," light heavy," "cruiser" all the way to "heavy?" Before anything else, a disclaimer: I'm no expert in maintaining weight as many of you know, and yes, I would be a heavyweight if I were a real boxer (I'm just a recreational boxer). But let's clear up a few things about this weight thing for the benefit of the ordinary boxing fan.
Boxers, with the help of their managers and trainers, fight in a chosen weight division where they know they will be at their best. This decision comes from a combination of knowing one's body structure, height, built, age and growth pattern. As an example, Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista started his pro career in the 115-pound division (super flyweight), won his WBO Asia Pacific title at 118 pounds (bantamweight), and his now campaigning in the 122-pound division (super bantamweight).
Another example: Manny Pacquiao weighed in at 106 pounds in his pro debut (one pound over the strawweight division limit). He then won an OPBF and later the WBC world flyweight championship (112 pounds), and then lost this world title when he could no longer make the 112-pound limit. In his "second coming," he won the IBF super bantamweight championship (122 pounds), and was later recognized as Ring Magazine's featherweight champ (126 pounds) before moving up to his current division: 130 pounds (super featherweight). Are you still with me? I'm just as confused as you are! But let's move on.
Here's a little twist. Did you know that when boxers go up to fight on top of the ring, they are actually a lot heavier than their weight division's limit? Make any sense? When Pacquiao fights Erik Morales on November 18, he's going to weigh anywhere between 135-140 pounds. And yes, this is over the 130-pound limit. Ditto for Morales who is predicted to hit the 140-pound mark on fight night due to his height and built. Both fighters are thus facing each other for recognition as the people's 130-pound world champion, but neither of them will be close to the 130-pound limit on fight night. In fact, they'll both be over the limit.
And now we explain with another "Did you know" twist. Did you know that boxers will actually hit their weight limit only once before an actual fight? The one and only occasion when boxers hit (and sometime miss) their division's weight limit is at the official weigh-in that takes place 24 hours before a fight. Losing weight is half of every boxer's nightmare when preparing for a fight. Aside from training to beat an opponent black and blue, a boxer also sets his sights on weighing on or below the division's limit at the official weigh-in. A boxer's training program will thus see him losing weight slowly but surely as the weigh-in day draws near.
Pacquiao doesn't walk around the streets of Gen San weighing at his division's limit of 130 pounds, while Boom Boom is also above 122 pounds in between fights. Pacquiao is reportedly weighing around 135 to 138 pounds right now, and trimming down to 130 pounds isn't expected to be a problem with a full month left before his third fight with Morales. In fact, he weighed in at 128? pounds at Pacquiao-Morales 2. On the other hand, Morales had difficulty hitting 130 pounds in that fight, and this was used as an excuse why he was knocked out. Going down to 130 pounds reportedly drained Morales of a lot of power and stamina. But that's his problem. If he chooses to fight at 130, then 130 it should be, and no excuses should be made.
The most obvious question that people ask is why the weigh-in is held a day before the fight and why not on fight day. This is one of the sport's thorny and controversial issues that will surely be brought out in the open again, now that some high-profile cases of going overweight have cropped up. Advocates of same-day weigh-ins say that, if for instance boxers are fighting for the 130-pound title, shouldn't they be weighing exactly 130 pounds (or lower) on top of the ring so as to give justification to their "real" weight division? On the other hand, boxing organizations and commissions will say that it isn't safe to have someone going on top of the ring still fresh from a weight-loss program since he's most likely dehydrated. He needs at least a day to recover. But that's boxing for you. I don't think this will be resolved for good, and the status quo will most likely be maintained.
In the end, it all boils down to the boxer (and his manager) making the right boxing choices and doing everything to meet the commitments that go along with these.
And this includes something that all of us should also be doing. Watch your weight!
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Rico Navarro.
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