Friday marked the weigh-in for the highly anticipated junior middleweight bout between Mexican compatriots Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Alfredo "El Perro" Angulo at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
While these events are often tabbed as vehicles for hyping fights and can lead to tense confrontations between boxers, there was some tangible controversy ahead of Saturday's fight with regard to the weight limit.
Angulo tipped the scales at 154.5 pounds, while Alvarez checked in just a bit over that at 155. According to Black Sports Online founder Robert Littal, the limit was changed at the last minute to accommodate Alvarez's gain:
Angulo 154 1/2 ... Canelo 155...So basically the raised the weight limit last min from 154 to 155, so Canelo could make weight— Robert Littal (@BlkSportsOnline) March 7, 2014
ESPN.com's Dan Rafael felt that Showtime Sports should have inquired about the change in contract, when Alvarez was being interviewed after he tipped the scales a pound overweight:
Since both Angulo and Alvarez are under the Golden Boy Promotions company, it makes sense that the limit was flexed. Rafael pointed out one of the financial stipulations of the deal that threatened to take away Angulo's $100,000 bonus depending on what Alvarez weighed. Angulo, as it turns out, will hold onto the bonus due to Alvarez's weigh-in result, according to commission documents:
#CaneloAngulo contract said 154 plus 1. Canelo could weigh 155. Deal struck for 100k payment if Canelo over 155, which they said he'd be.— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) March 7, 2014
Nevertheless, this is a big opportunity for the underdog Angulo, as he will try to knock off a rising star in Alvarez—who's facing pressure to bounce back after losing his first fight as a professional to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in his last official appearance.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated sent out a warning to Alvarez, implying that he better not be taking Angulo lightly. Otherwise, he could be saddled with his second consecutive loss after such a promising career trajectory before then:
Hope Canelo is taking Angulo seriously. What Angulo lacks in skill he makes up for with relentless pressure and crushing power.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) March 7, 2014
In Mannix's own column on the fight, Alvarez acknowledged that Angulo is not an opponent he can gloss over, due to his explosive punching and ability to notch a knockout.
What will be the outcome of Saturday's fight?
Sure, it could be viewed that Alvarez's failure to weigh in at the proper poundage signifies his dismissal of Angulo as a formidable adversary. That would probably be an overreaction, though, because Alvarez was just one pound over the initially agreed-upon threshold, and he is known for beefing up in the days leading up to weigh-ins.
Before the bout against Mayweather, Pablo S. Torre of ESPN The Magazine reported that Alvarez would drop to 152 for the weigh-in—two pounds below his normal weight of 154—then bulk up to 164 pounds for the day of the fight, per longtime trainer Ronnie Shields.
That doesn't excuse Alvarez weighing in at 155, and it has to be disappointing to his camp that he's losing $100,000. But Alvarez has to be careful not to balloon his weight too much before the fight, per Rafael:
It's hard to blame him for at least a slight letdown after losing to Mayweather. This weigh-in miscue is a substantial error that is being accounted for in the contract, so Alvarez must put this behind him and focus on his preparation ahead of Saturday's showdown.
So while this weigh-in will be the source of polarizing debate over the next 24 hours or so, what matters most is what Alvarez brings in this critical clash. That should include added weight, a reinvigorated focus after the weigh-in result and a decisive victory over his fellow countryman—though it won't be easy.
This is a make-or-break affair for Alvarez in terms of his prospects of being a bankable pay-per-view star moving forward as a headliner. If he can win in a convincing fashion, the 23-year-old should be on a fast track to reclaim the titles he lost in the Mayweather fight. But a loss would be a devastating blow.
Since Angulo has an innate aggressive style—evident in that he's posted a 22-3 career record with 18 knockouts—these circumstances play into his favor. He is a dangerous upstart and could bolster his future if he's able to pull off the upset.