By Jake Donovan, photos by Pepe Rodriguez
The MGM Grand has been the site for the largest gates in boxing history several times over, none bigger than Saturday's showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Saul Alvarez. which airs live on Showtime pay-per-view.
Friday's weigh-in session saw the largest-ever crowd on hand for such an event, with more than 12,000 packed into the venue. The event was treated as if it were fight night itself, as all of the fighters were granted their own ring walks to the stage when introduced. The same privilege was granted to a large number of members of the Golden Boy stable, making their way through the crowd and onto the stage.
The real reason everyone was on hand was to make sure all fighters - specifically the chief principles - made weight. Mayweather and Alvarez did their part, as both came in within the 152 lb. catchweight limit.
Mayweather (44-0, 26KO) was never a concern to make weight. The reigning lineal welterweight king hit the scales at 150.5 lb. in his third career fight above the welterweight limit.
The real concern was whether or not Alvarez (42-0-1, 30KO) - a natural super welterweight in the prime of his career - could come in at the modified weight limit. The unbeaten unified titlist alleviated all fears, arriving at a chiseled 152 lb. for the seventh defense of his alphabet titles and first ever true world (lineal) championship contest.
Their obligatory staredown was playful, but their posing directly to the crowd showed the animosity that exists between the two fighters.
Mayweather attempted a session with both fighters holding his WBC belt, but Alvarez never even looked his way. Instead, the Mexican superstar stared directly into the crowd, largely filled with his supporters and Mayweather detractors, as he ignored whatever the pound-for-pound king was trying to say to him.
"I don't know what he was saying to me. It was probably something about hard work and dedication," Alvarez quipped to Jim Gray, playing on Mayweather's catchphrase.
Mayweather already owns the mark for the two biggest non-heavyweight pay-per-view events in boxing history, including the all-time record for any weight class when more than 2.4 million units were sold for his May '07 points win over Oscar de la Hoya. Many have speculated whether or not this bout could surpass that mark, or the $140 million in pay-per-view revenue since the price tag ($64.99, plus $10 more for HD) is $10 more than what was charged for the current record-holder.
However, the fight that has the sport's hardcore fanbase buzzing is the evening's chief support. Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse collide in a bout that will officially crown a king in the super lightweight division.
Both fighters came in at the 140 lb. limit, though not without a brief drama spell. Matthysse hit the mark without any problems, but Garcia was initially announced as being slightly over the limit. When asked if he wanted to strip down to his bare ass and have a towel cover his private areas in order to weigh in again on the spit, the unbeaten unified super lightweight titlist declined, instead asking to step on the scales in present form.
"I made weight earlier in the day, so I knew something was off," Garcia commented afterwards. "There were a lot of people surrounding the scale, which threw off the weight."
Garcia came in right at the limit in his second attempt, which came seconds later and without removing a single article of clothing.
The opening bout of the telecast pits Mayweather Promotions' most recent signee, hard luck Ashley Theophane against fringe welterweight contender Pablo Cano. Theophane - who once dropped a competitive decision to Garcia when both were rising prospects - weighed 142 lb., while Cano - coming off of back-to-back losses Shane Mosley and Paul Malignaggi - was 141.5 lb. Their bout is scheduled for 10 rounds.
The pay-per-view portion of the show airs live at 9PM ET/6PM PT and local time. Showtime will present a one-hour pre-fight show at 8PM ET, leading directly into Saturday's telecast.