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Weight issue downplayed in Marquez-Mayweather fight

Mayweather pays a price for coming in overweight and the disparity in pounds could be quite large by the time Saturday's bout begins, but Marquez says it's not going to matter.

September 19, 2009|Lance Pugmire

LAS VEGAS — Juan Manuel Marquez has never fought at a weight greater than 135 pounds. He had the chance Friday to step onto the scale before tonight's bout at an agreed-upon limit of 144 pounds. Marquez weighed 142.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., the unbeaten former six-time world champion trying to reclaim the mythical title of the world's best pound-for-pound fighter after a 21-month layoff, couldn't make the 144-pound limit, and had his advisors craft a revised bout agreement earlier Friday that allowed him to weigh in at 146 pounds -- with a financial penalty.

Mayweather has fought as heavy as 154 pounds, and there has been discussion in the Marquez camp that Mayweather will weigh as much as 160 tonight -- an 18-pound disparity if Marquez's weight stays where he has told his camp he feels "most effective [and] comfortable."

Is that disparity safe? Marquez being the stubborn warrior who trains by lifting large stones in the Spartan conditions of Mexico City's mountains, and Mayweather considered the most skilled boxer in the world?

"No concern," said Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. "Our regulations would require special permission if there was a nine-pound difference at the weigh-in. They're within four pounds. I'm not going to deal with it beyond that. We already have, and everything's good."

Richard Schaefer, the Golden Boy Promotions executive who's promoting the bout and counts world lightweight champion Marquez as one of his top fighters, said after the weigh-in that Mayweather's extra two pounds had resulted in a "substantial" contracted financial penalty that would be given to Marquez.

Schaefer declined to disclose the penalty, but a source with knowledge of the figure who declined to be identified because he wasn't authorized to discuss it publicly said Mayweather was penalized $600,000.

Beyond that, Schaefer said he hadn't raised safety concerns to the Mayweather camp or the Nevada commission.

"Both fighters agreed to these terms in the first place; that it could go as high as 147 with a penalty," Schaefer said. "Boxing is a very brutal and dangerous sport, and I am always concerned about what happens in the ring, irrespective of a difference in weight, skill, height and reach. You always hope things go well. I say a prayer before every fight that both men will be OK.

"Who says Marquez can't win this? [Manny] Pacquiao has fought bigger guys and won when nobody gave him a chance, either. . . . Sometimes size matters, and sometimes it doesn't matter."

Marquez, making a $2 million guaranteed purse, plus the penalty and pay-per-view money compared to Mayweather's guaranteed $10 million, has already made it clear he is willing to fight the highly skilled bigger man because it's "the most important fight in my career."

In footage aired Thursday on HBO's "24/7," Marquez told an Olvera Street crowd Sunday, "I put my life on the line . . . like an Aztec warrior."

After stepping off the scale Friday, Marquez, 36, repeated that the weight difference "is not going to be a problem at all."

The boxer's trainer and manager, Ignacio "Nacho" Beristain, didn't express reservations about the weight difference, telling The Times that Golden Boy's Oscar De La Hoya "said he'll take action" to address the penalty money Marquez is owed.

Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez declined to speculate when asked if the Marquez camp believed Mayweather ever intended to weigh 144.

"Juan told me personally [Friday] morning that he feels comfortable at 142, and that even if Floyd's weight does go up [from 146], Juan feels he'll have an edge by being lighter and faster," Gomez said. "Juan told me, 'I don't care if Floyd comes in at 160, he could come in sluggish.'

"Juan is not being forced in any way to do something he doesn't want to do."

Boxing historian Bert Sugar says although he believes the weight limit will have more of a draining effect on Mayweather than put Marquez in a dangerous disadvantage, he noted a 2006 lawsuit filed by boxer Joey Gamache against the late Arturo Gatti, who stepped into the ring nearly 20 pounds heavier than Gamache in a 2000 bout Gatti won in less than two rounds.

The lawsuit, which followed a formal complaint by Gamache against the New York State Athletic Commission that said the weigh-in was handled in an errant fashion, alleged Gamache suffered permanent brain damage and repeated migraine headaches because of the battering he took from the bigger man.

"Marquez could've come in heavier, but he made the weight he wanted," Sugar said. "He could've sat in a tapioca eating contest if he wanted."

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lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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