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LAS VEGAS – In the last seven years, weigh-ins for major fights have become an event unto themselves. Weigh-ins are, by Nevada law, open to the public, and thousands of fans who weren't able to afford tickets to the fight the next night would pack the arena to catch a glimpse of the boxers.
No weigh-in was more memorable than the one the afternoon before the 2007 match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Ricky Hatton. Tens of thousands of Hatton fans packed the MGM Grand Garden and sang and cheered for hours, with the strain of "There's only one Ricky Hatton!" reverberating throughout the casino.
Fans who want a similar experience for the May 2 Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight had better be prepared to pay for the privilege.
For what is believed to be the first time in Nevada history, admission will be charged for fans to attend the weigh-in on May 1 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Francisco Aguilar, the chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission, said he sought the advice of the Nevada attorney general's office before permitting the charge.
"All of the money, every dollar, from the ticket sales will go to the charities," Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe said.
Mayweather has designated the Susan B. Komen Foundation as his charity. Pacquiao picked the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health as his charity. Proceeds from the weigh-in ticket sales will benefit those charities equally.
Royce Feour was the long-time boxing writer at the Las Vegas Review-Journal and covered fights in Nevada dating back to the early 1960s. He said he could recall admission being charged by the old Dunes Hotel/Casino for fans to watch Floyd Patterson work out before a fight with Sonny Liston. However, Feour said that as far as he can remember, admission has never been charged for fans to attend a weigh-in in the state.
The charge is not, however, because the fighters are looking to milk every last cent from the promotion. Rather, it's going to be tried as a form of crowd control.
Officials are expecting upward of 50,000 people in the MGM who will be attending the closed circuit broadcast of the fight the next day. The fear is that a large percentage of them will attempt to attend the weigh-in and it could create an unruly situation.
So by charging a nominal fee that has yet to be determined, only fans with tickets will be able to get in and it should make controling the crowd easier, Aguilar said.
"We want to make it as safe as possible for the fighters and for everyone who attends," Aguilar said. "And if fans know they need a ticket to get in, it might prevent people lining up way earlier or any disagreements as people attempt to get into the arena."