COMMENTARY | One of boxing's most effective legal "cheats" involves forcing your opponent to fight at a weight above or below his own comfort level.
Obviously, a fighter competing at a weight well above his natural weight will be at a decided disadvantage against someone naturally bigger and stronger.
However, more dangerous, is a smaller opponent asking his naturally larger foe to fight at an artificially small weight. Without going into a clinic on weight in boxing, a larger fighter asked to lose an unnatural amount of weight is also sacrificing energy, physical strength, and his natural recuperative powers as he dries out to make the limit.
Most recently, rumors are rampant that one of Floyd Mayweather's demands during ongoing negotiations with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is that the 22-year-old junior middleweight champ come down to the welterweight limit in order to get the lucrative fight.
Alvarez, who now holds the WBC and WBA 154 lb. titles, last made the welterweight limit of 147 lbs. back in March of 2010 and is well-known to rehydrate up to 170 lbs. on fight night for his junior middleweight bouts.
"Floyd wants every advantage on his side," Alvarez's trainer, "Chepo" Reynoso told Boxingscene. "Among one of the things that is often being stressed is that he wants Canelo at a lower weight. Why would I make my boy sacrifice so much? We proposed an intermediate weight for things to be level for both [fighters], but he refused. Yes we want to fight, but that does not mean [Mayweather] will get everything [he wants]."
Reynoso, of course, is absolutely correct in his assessment of the situation and in his desire to protect his fighter at all costs. Seven pounds may not seem like a lot of weight to the average person with a casual knowledge of the sport, but it's a major amount to a fighter, who is already working at the absolute lowest possible weight his body can sustain. Imagine getting down to your lowest weight, with no visible fat and everything as tight as can be-then try to cut seven pounds from that. For an athlete, what happens is that muscle mass gets cut and, with that, come all the other negative repercussions.
Unfortunately, these attempts to coerce fighters into a lower weight are not all that uncommon and they mostly take place in situations where one fighter can absolutely dictate all of the terms of a bout and the other has no choice but to follow along or lose a lucrative payday.
Mayweather arch-rival, Manny Pacquiao, has employed these weight games in the past to great success against fighters like Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. Andre Ward recently destroyed light heavyweight champ, Chad Dawson, who dropped seven pounds to compete for Ward's super middleweight title.
Weight manipulation via contractual clause is a legal and effective cheat in the sport and, perhaps, one of its most dangerous practices.
Along with the loss of water weight and muscle, other bodily fluids are adversely affected by the push to lose more weight than may be healthy. Notably, fluids surrounding the brain which help absorb impact and keep the tissue healthy. A disproportionate amount of ring deaths have involved fighters who had to lose large amounts of weight in a relatively short period of time.
At 22 years of age, Canelo Alvarez could conceivably handle the weight loss with reduced chance of danger, but why should he?
For the longest time, Mayweather has spoken publicly about his desire to retire with his health intact and how he will always err on the side of safety in the ring.
Well, Alvarez should do the same and be ready and willing to walk away if the weight game continues to be part of the negotiations.
Other Work From This Writer:
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
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- Floyd Mayweather
- Canelo Alvarez