By Jake Donovan
Andrzej Fonfara and Joe Smith Jr. are all set to headline Saturday's edition of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on NBC live in primetime (Saturday, 8:30pm ET/7:30pm local time) from UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois.
Both fighters made weight for their scheduled 12-round light heavyweight battle. Fonfara checked in at 174.5 lbs., while Smith Jr. was a fit and trim 173 lbs.
Fonfara (28-3, 16KOs) plays the UIC Pavilion for the 16th time in his career, all coming within his last 20 fights. As such, the Chicagoland contender - originally from Poland - enjoys a massive hometown edge over the visiting Smith Jr. (21-1, 17KOs), a Long Island (New York)-based boxer who fights away from the East Coast for the first time in his young career.
The most anticipated bout the show - and of this weekend - comes in the co-feature, when Juan Carlos Payano and Rau'Shee Warren square off in a rematch to their thriller last August.
Each combatant was lighter than was the case in the first meet.
Payano (17-0, 8KOs) was 117.2 lbs, down from the 117.75 at which he checked in for his split decision win last summer. The win marked the lone defense he's made of the bantamweight title he wrested from long-reigning champ Anselmo Moreno in Sept. '14.
Warren (13-1, 4KOs) tipped the scales at a lean and ready 117 lbs., a full pound lighter than his coming in right at the bantamweight limit for his first bout with Payano.
The only fighter in U.S. history to serve on three Olympic boxing team. Warren was also the first from the 2012 squad to fight for a major title. He came up short in a controversial decision, but gets a second crack before any of his teammates get their first opportunity, his shot coming a week before Dominic Breazeale faces reigning heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua in London, England.
Opening the telecast, red hot super welterweight prospect Erickson Lubin (14-0, 10KOs) faces Mexico's Daniel Sandoval in a scheduled 10-round affair.
Lubin - who turned pro in 2013 and is still four months shy of his 21st birthday - tipped the scales at a fighting fit 153.5 lbs. The same cannot be said of his opponent. Sandoval was very late to the weigh-in, which came into light when he tipped the scales at 159.5 lbs. on his first attempt for a fight that came at a contracted limit of 155 pounds.
The veteran boxer from Guadalajara came back roughly two hours later, still coming in heavy at 158, but with Lubin's blessing the fight will still move forward.
Hugo Centeno also ran into scale troubles, stripping down to his birthday suit in checking in at 163 pounds. The unbeaten middleweight will take on local favorite Maciej Sulecki, who was a lean and mean 159.5 pounds for their bout which will air live on NBC Sports Network immediately following PBC on NBC primetime coverage.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Follow his shiny new Twitter account: @JakeNDaBox_v2