By Jake Donovan
To say that all of the fighters made weight for Saturday’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Fox telecast would technically be true, but also leaving out a major development.
While there weren’t any issues in the main event between Leo Santa Cruz and Rafael Rivera, the co-feature was another story—sadly, another disappointing entry in Omar Figueroa’s longtime struggles at the scale.
Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19KOs) checked in at 125.5 pounds for the third defense of his featherweight title. Rivera (26-2-2, 17KOs) came in slightly lighter at 125.25 pounds ahead of his first shot at a major belt.
Their bout headlines a full show to air live in primetime on free-to-air Fox TV from the Microsoft Center in Los Angeles, California.
The main event originally pitted Santa Cruz versus Houston’s Miguel Flores, who was forced to withdraw last month. A gym session ended with Flores twisting his ankle, which left him a bruise all the way down to the bone which wouldn’t come close to healing in time to proceed with the fight.
In his place came Mexico’s Rivera, who was already training for a fight in March when he agreed to what he views as a once-in-a-career opportunity against the best featherweight in the world. The veteran contender similarly accepted a Sept. ’17 fight with 2012 U.S. Olympian and then-unbeaten contender Joseph Diaz on short notice, replacing Jorge Lara.
Whereas it took an opponent switch to save the main event, keeping alive the co-feature attraction between Figueroa and Molina required an amendment in the contracted weight.
The pair of all-action heroes were originally due to fight at the 140-pound super lightweight limit, a weight specifically requested by Figueroa’s camp in initially signing the fight. However, PBC representatives informed BoxingScene.com that the unbeaten former lightweight titlist requested a modified weight limit during fight week after revealing to Molina Jr. that he would not be able to hit the 140-pound mark.
For Molina Jr., the concession comes with an undisclosed increase in pay—likely in line with the penalties that were in place had either boxer missed weight. Both wound up checking in at 144.5 pounds, well within the modified limit of 146 pounds.
Figueroa (27-0-1, 19KOs) returns to the ring following a 19-month hiatus, with his previous fight—a 3rd round knockout of former multi-division titlist Robert Guerrerro—also preceded by a 19-month break.
The 29-year old Texan was in a similar position weight-wise ahead of his Dec. ’15 NBC-televised clash with Antonio DeMarco. Their bout was due to take place at a 143-pound catchweight, only to learn of a behind-the-scenes modification once both fighters showed up well above the mark during the pre-fight weigh-in.
Figueroa also came in heavy in his fight prior to DeMarco, missing the super lightweight limit in an eventual 12-round win over Ricky Burns in May ’15.
For Molina (30-7, 24KOs), the concession for Saturday’s co-feature meant coming in a weight he was targeting for a previously scheduled ring appearance. The 36-year old Californian was due to meet former welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz in a 147-pound clash last September, only for the bout to be canceled after Ortiz was arrested during fight week—and continues to stand trial—for felony sexual assault charges.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox