By Jake Donovan at the scales
BIRMINGHAM--The most positive experience that came from Friday's weigh-in was that good sportsmanship was on full display for all 10 bouts.
The evening's main event pits Alabama's one-man pro sports franchise, unbeaten heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder attempting his fourth defense versus veteran contender Chris Arreola. There was a 20-pound difference at the scales, with Wilder (36-0, 35KOs) coming in at a ripped 226.2 lbs., while Arreola weighed 246.2 lbs., relatively light compared to most of his recent past but still sporting a physically soft upper body.
The heavyweight title fight serves as the evening's main event, airing live in primetime on free-to-air Fox TV (Saturday, 8:00 p,m. ET/7:00 p.m. local time).
An extended staredown - intense yet civil - was followed by both combatants posing with signs stating "His Life Matters" pointing to one another, in line with the theme of many of the show's athletes taking a stance against the police brutatlity epidemic plaguing the U.S. for far too long.
Felix Diaz is also committed to the cause. His team arrived to the weigh-in decked out in "ALL LIVES MATTER/Stop Police Brutality" T-shirts ahead of Saturday's crossroads bout with unbeaten welterweight contender Sammy Vasquez Jr.
Both fighters easily made weight for the co-feature attraction, which - much like the main event - was basically put together by accident. Diaz (17-1, 8KOs) weighed in at a trim and ready 145.8 lbs, while the always professional Vasquez Jr. (21-0, 15KOs) - a decorated war hero who served two tours in Iraq while serving in the U.S. Army - hitting the scales at 146.8 lbs. for his second consecutive Fox-televised appearance.
Vasquez Jr. was originally due to face faded former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo, who was forced to withdraw due to injury. In came Diaz, the 2008 Olympic Gold medalist from Dominican Republic - now based out of Bronx, New York - who was originally slated to face Levan Ghvamichava earlier this week on FS1 but agreed to make the switch, resulting in both co-feature combatants stepping up in competition.
The bout is Diaz' first since a controversial points loss to Lamont Peterson last October. Vasquez Jr. has been slightly more active, having last appeared in the ring in January when he forced a reluctant Aron Martinez to quit on his stool after six rounds as part of the inaugural edition of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Fox.
The main event also came about in place of an originally scheduled adventure for Wilder, also out of the ring since January. The 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist - the last American male boxer to claim a medal - was due for a May trip to Moscow to face 2004 Olympic Gold medalist Alexander Povetkin, who produced a positive drug test result for the banned substance Meldonium, thus killing the fight.
Instead came makeshift plans for Wilder to fight in his home state for the third time in his past four bouts. He comes in as more than a 30-1 favorite versus Arreola (36-4-1. 31KOs), who is just 1-1-1-1NC in his last four starts, including a disputed win turned No-Contest versus Travis Kauffman last December, having tested positive for marijuana.
The veteran contender from Riverside, California makes his third attempt at becoming the first-ever boxer of Mexican descent to claim a piece of the heavyweight crown. He suffered knockout losses in his previous efforts, as he was stopped in 10 rounds by Vitali Klitschko in Sept. '09 for his first career loss, and drilled in the 6th round of his May '14 rematch with Bermane Stiverne, whom Wilder bested last January to win the heavyweight strap.
Keeping in line with fights pieced together late in the promotion, red-hot super welterweight prospect Erickson Lubin will open the telecast as he faces Ivan Montero.
Both easily came within the 157-pound contracted limit. Lubin weighed 155.8 lbs. in his second fight in just four weeks, coming off of a sensational knockout win over Daniel Sandoval this past June, which aired live on NBC. Montero weighed in at an extremely light 153 lbs. for their scheduled 10-round battle.
Deontay Wilder, 226.2 lbs. vs. Chris Arreola, 246.2 lbs. - 12 rds, heavyweight
Sammy Vasquez, Jr. 146.8 lbs. vs. Felix Diaz, 145.8 lbs. - 10 rds, welterweight
Erickson Lubin, 155.8 lbs. vs. Ivan Montero 153 lbs.- 10 rds, super welterweight
Jamal James, 147 lbs. vs. Wale Omotoso, 146.8 lbs. - 10 rds, welterweight
Vic Darchinyan, 123 lbs. vs. Sergio Frias 121.8 lbs. - 10 rds, super bantamweight
Gerald Washington 243.8 lbs. vs. Ray Austin, 270 lbs. - 10 rds, heavyweight
Layla McCarter, 142.6 lbs. vs. Melissa Hernandez, 138.6 lbs. - 8 rds, welterweight
Keandre Leatherwood, 160.2 lbs. vs. Tyrone Sellers - 6 rds, middleweight
Kenneth McNeil, 160.4 lbs vs. Robert Burwell, 159.4 lbs. - 6 rds, middleweight
Robert Alfonso, 251.2 lbs. vs. Jamal Woods, 233.8 lbs. - 4 rds, heavyweight