by Cliff Rold
Here we go again.
One of many farces boxing perpetuates, the day-before weigh-in is one of the more foolish and dangerous. An incentive for fighters to shrink even farther past the point of wisdom than they might have in other eras, the whole point of the day before weigh-in is supposed to be fighters having more time to make weight and rehydrate to their health.
The real reason, one might argue (and the history indicates), is to mitigate cancellations of big fights. Another, grown in relevance in recent years, is the chance to make the weigh-in a further part of the hype for a fight.
Both are all about money and little about the fighters.
The impacts have been seen repeatedly. We get the comedy of Lightweight title fights between Jr. Middleweights. We get the horrendously unfunny Arturo Gatti-Joey Gamache. We get fighters who pay the price to make weight getting money to go through with fights against men who can’t make weight and might, likely will, dwarf them in the ring on fight night.
There’s not a damn thing healthy about any of this.
Friday, WBO Featherweight titlist Mikey Garcia lost his belt on the scales before he ever got to his first defense against Juan Manuel Lopez. Lopez, who originally tried to negotiate a catchweight of 128 lbs. after moving to 130 after a loss to Orlando Salido last year, scaled under the division limit of 126 lbs. Garcia, who being honest looked emaciated in footage from his trip to the scale, could not.
With over 24 hours to rehydrate, Garcia may enter the ring ready to go. He might be limited. If it’s the former, how much of an unfair advantage could he have in the ring on Saturday in a fight he’s already favored to win?
Ask Vicente Escobedo about his fight last year with Adrien Broner.
Either way, isn’t this a joke told often enough already? Fighters have always, on occasion, missed weight. If the weigh-ins for fights returned to the day of fights, what are the chances Garcia would even be bothering with Featherweight?
Ultimately, if the fight is good, this will be largely forgotten. That’s too bad. Everything old in boxing isn’t better. Day of fight weigh-ins might be. Boxing, on its face, is never going to be a healthy endeavor. Hollow gestures that pretend towards that aim add little.
Let’s go to the report cards.
Previous Titles: WBO Featherweight (2013)
Weight: 128 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 126.6 lbs.
Hails from: Oxnard, California
Record: 31-0, 26 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-0
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 3 (Mauricio Pastrana KO2; Jonathan Victor Barros TKO8; Orlando Salido Tech, Dec. 8)
Juan Manuel Lopez
Previous Titles: WBO Super Bantamweight (2008-10, 5 Defenses); WBO Featherweight (2010-11, 2 Defenses)
Height: 5’5 ½
Weight: 125.5 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 126.55 lbs.
Hails from: Caguas, Puerto Rico
Record: 33-2, 30 KO, 2 KOBY
Rankings: #7 (TBRB, BoxingScene, BoxRec, ESPN); #10 (Ring)
Record in Major Title Fights: 9-2, 8 KO, 2 KOBY
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 0 (Daniel Ponce De Leon TKO1; Gerry Penalosa RTD10; Steve Luevano TKO7; Rafael Marquez RTD8; Orlando Salido TKO by 8, TKO by 10)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Garcia B; Lopez B
Pre-Fight: Power – Garcia B+; Lopez B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Garcia B; Lopez C-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Garcia B+; Lopez C+
Lopez has fallen a long way from the heights some imagined for him when he walked through Daniel Ponce De Leon for his first belt. He is a dangerous offensive fighter but his lack of defensive soundness has meant high drama far too many times.
This is a guy with some miles on him. Both losses to Salido were savage wars where he took high volumes of flush shots. His war with Rogers Mtagwa was similar. He traded wobbly legs with Rafael Marquez throughout their battle.
Garcia doesn’t seem as inclined to war. He uses his feet and an educated jab, and he’s not afraid to tie up as he showed against Salido when the veteran tried to come back from multiple knockdowns. Garcia, part of a fighting family, brings a lot of accumulated knowledge into the ring with him. When the Salido fight went to the cards early on a broken nose, plenty criticized Garcia not screaming to fight on.
But he left with the “W,” perhaps a reflection of the cerebral violence he uses in the ring. Oh, and he can crack.
While not, so far, appearing to be an Adonis Stevenson type of blockbuster, Garcia’s shots are sharp and he places them well. How will he respond if he gets tagged though? Salido seemed to get his attention more than once and Lopez carries more of a hammer. Could Lopez land something big and change Garcia’s trajectory?
Or is it just as likely that, even if he does, Garcia fires back and Lopez can’t take as well as give? That after all has been the problem in recent vintage. He loves to throw, so much that his defense becomes afterthought. Garcia is the sort of sharpshooter who should be able to thrive with holes like that.
There is reason to think Lopez is being way too written off. He’s not old and the idea that he may have a big one in him isn’t a stretch. Additionally, Garcia is still far from proven. While his best win did come over a man who twice stopped Lopez, who is that man? It’s Orlando Salido, a good fighter who has mostly lost to fighters that count in his career. If Garcia is sluggish because of his attempts to get to 126, even failed, this could be a dogfight and Lopez has proven he has the heart to get into them.
It’s hard to assume Garcia won’t be ready to fight. He might not be entirely proven, but he looks well on his way. In terms of technical soundness, Garcia is rock solid and Lopez still walks into blind shots. Add in worsening reactions to shots over time and this looks like Garcia finding a KO shot sometime in the second half.
Report Card Picks 2013: 25-15
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transanational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]