News September 2009

Marquez and Mayweather hit the scales

19/09/09

c/o HBO

LAS VEGAS - As impressive as Floyd Mayweather has been in becoming an unbeaten six-time world champion in five weight divisions, the punch he packs as boxing's No. 1 box-office draw might be his most eye-opening impact.

by Chuck Johnson | Photos by Will Hart

Mayweather's proven ability to attract fans will be put to the test again Saturday night when he returns to the ring against Juan Manuel Marquez in a scheduled 12-round welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena (HBO Pay-Per-View, $49.95).

A spirited crowd of turned out Friday afternoon for the official weigh-in, which was open to the public for free. Many of them were Marquez fans getting an early jump on their Mexican Independence Day celebration by singing songs in Spanish in support of their country's No. 1 fighter.

"I don't know what those words mean, but I know what an ass-whuppin means,'' quipped comedian D.L. Hughley, who emceed the event as a Mayweather supporter.

As the bigger and faster man, Mayweather is considered the odds-on favorite to keep his perfect record (39-0, 25 KOs) intact. The weigh-in didn't do much to to change that perception as Marquez (50-4-1, 37 KOs) tipped the scales at 142 pounds and Mayweather at 146, just one pound under the welterweight limit.

The fighters' official weights squashed speculation that the scheduled 12-round bout would be contested at a catch weight of 144 pounds. Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather Promotions, the fight's presenters, had been coy about revealing that information throughout the promotion, simply terming it a "welterweight" non-title bout.

Marquez, a five-time world champion in three weight classes, has never fought above the 135-pound lightweight limit. But, with recent dominating performances in knocking out Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz, two champions who had never been kayoed, Marquez comes in thinking he just might have the punch it takes to to deal Mayweather his first defeat.

Mayweather, who was No. 1 pound-for-pound when he retired just months after knocking out Ricky Hatton, will be fighting for the first time in 21 months, the longest layoff of his career.

With his return to the ring, Mayweather and his backers are banking on his box office appeal to pick up where he left off after he generated 3.4 million pay-per-view buys and a reported $250 million in gross revenue in just two fights against Oscar De La Hoya and Hatton in 2007.

With De La Hoya, the sport's previous box office king, now in retirement, Mayweather is the unchallenged leading man as boxing enters the digital age of marketing, corporate sponsorship and integrated promotion.

"Floyd Mayweather has an unbelievable following," said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. "With Oscar being retired, that will bring Floyd to an even higher level. People are going to see him as that next pay-per-view star."

Mayweather, 32, says he never doubted he could be a star. But it wasn't until he parted ways with Top Rank's Bob Arum in 2005 that he gained the autonomy to plot his own career path.

"I was with another promotion company that never took me to that next level,''

Mayweather said. "It's not my fault that I wasn't taken to that next level in the past. I felt that I always was a pay-per-view star. The main thing I wanted to do when I made the decision to come back is to continue bringing excitement to the sport of boxing."

Promoters are also proud of the undercard they've put together for the HBO Pay-Per-View card (9 p.m. ET), crediting Mayweather for his insistence that the audience gets its money's worth and not just from the main event..

In other televised fights, Chris John (42-0-2, 22 KOs) and Rocky Juarez (28-4-1, 20 KOs) will tangle in a rematch for John's featherweight belt after fighting to a controversial draw in February. Also, Michael Katsidis (25-2, 21 KOs) meets Vicente Escobedo (21-1, 13 KOs) in an lightweight bout. Katsidas is known for all-out brawling and Escobedo, a 2004 U.S. Olympian, is a top prospect making a big jump in his level of competition.

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