By Lyle Fitzsimmons
Let’s be honest, folks. When it comes down to it, only a few people really know the truth.
Leonard Ellerbe knows the truth. Chepo Reynoso knows the truth. And perhaps a few other select people on either side of the issue know it as well.
But at this point, don’t expect that to matter all that much.
Now that we’re less than two weeks away from Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez meeting in Las Vegas, the respective sides are so skilled at reciting their own mantras that it’d be hard to get them to recall what really happened to lead to a 152-pound catch weight being agreed upon in the first place.
Still, even the most die-hard Canelo fan would have to admit that if Ellerbe is lying about what Team Mayweather contends to be the real chain of events – he’s gotten pretty damned good at it.
In fact, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions looked straight into the camera throughout his stint on Showtime’s second All Access episode and skipped nary a beat as he recalled what he contends is reality.
“His management put out something on BoxingScene that they would be willing to fight at a catch weight,” Ellerbe said. “Because his management is inept, we take advantage of those kinds of things. Why would we go in a different direction? They suggested it, why would we say no and do something different? They put him at a disadvantage. His management did.”
The contentions from Ellerbe are nothing new.
He broadcast those claims during media gatherings throughout the nine-day, 10-city press tour to hype the fight earlier in the year, claiming to anyone who’d listen that he and Mayweather had no intention of asking for a weight allowance – but would have been foolish to turn it down if offered.
It was Alvarez and Co., he insisted, who floated the idea in order to get the fight with Mayweather made, and once the suggestion from the 154-pound side was on the table, there was no legitimate reason for the 147-pounders to push it aside simply to be polite.
Assuming for a moment Ellerbe’s telling the truth, he’s also dead-on correct in his logic.
Regardless of whether you believe cutting an extra two pounds before a weigh-in is significantly important or remarkably overrated, the fact is that as Mayweather’s top business mouthpiece, Ellerbe’s objective is to cut as good a deal for his man as is humanly possible.
And by adding one more thing to Alvarez’s already daunting pre-fight to-do list, he makes an already difficult task – beating a guy who’s not come close to losing in 44 fights – just that much harder.
“It wasn’t that Floyd Mayweather asked for a catch weight, because absolutely that did not happen. I want to be clear on the record for that,” Ellerbe said. “Floyd would have fought him regardless, but his management put that out there. So if you have an idiot manager, that’s what it is.”
Of course, two pounds or no two pounds, it’s not as if 152 is a weight the now 23-year-old Alvarez has never seen before.
He began his career at 139 pounds in 2005 and had nine straight fights either at or slightly beneath the welterweight limit as recently as 2009 and 2010 – winning eight by stoppage, five in three rounds or less. He was 150½ for a one-punch KO of former Mayweather foe Carlos Baldomir in September 2010 and won the WBC super welterweight title six months later with a unanimous decision over Matthew Hatton, for which he weighed 151½.
In six subsequent title defenses, he’s weighed 153¼, 153½ and 153¾ one each and 154 three times, winning four of the fights by knockout and two others by unanimous decision.
Mayweather, on the other hand, has fought above 147 pounds just twice in his career, for a split decision over Oscar De La Hoya (150 pounds) in May 2007 and a unanimous verdict over Miguel Cotto (151 pounds) in May 2012. The De La Hoya fight is the only one of Mayweather’s career that ended with an opponent ahead on any scorecard, and the meeting with Cotto was on the short list of fights Mayweather claims were the toughest of his career.
When it comes to the next one, however, his right-hand man is unmoved.
“(Alvarez is) an excellent young fighter,” Ellerbe said. “But he’s in over his head. He’s in over his head. Come Sept. 14, Canelo’s got a problem.”
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
Vacant IBF junior bantamweight title – Takamatsu, Japan
Daiki Kameda (No. 3 contender) vs. Rodrigo Guerrero (No. 4 contender)
Kameda (28-3, 18 KO): Seventh title fight (3-3); Won 11 of 12 fights at 115-pound limit
Guerrero (19-4-1, 12 KO): Fourth title fight (1-2); Lost three of last five at 115-pound limit
Fitzbitz says: “Visitor has been in with better names in his career, but hasn’t fared so well with a lot of them. Given that reality, look for the hometown champ to be a narrow cut above.” Kameda by decision
WBO lightweight title – Glasgow, Scotland
Ricky Burns (champion) vs. Raymundo Beltran (No. 6 contender)
Burns (36-2, 11 KO): Fourth title defense; Unbeaten in Scotland since 2006 (14-0)
Beltran (28-6, 17 KO): First title fight; Second fight outside U.S./Mexico (0-1)
Fitzbitz says: “Challenger has won three straight to upgrade his career track, but hometown Scotsman has defeated better fighters to prove he belongs on a higher level.” Burns by decision
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full- fledged title-holder -- no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Last week's picks: 1-0
2013 picks record: 49-30 (62.0 percent)
Overall picks record: 512-182 (73.8 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.