MIGUEL COTTO danced gently to the music coming through his headphones while Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez relaxed on the opposite side of the stage. It was perhaps the last moment of calm before the storm. The Mexican was beckoned to the scales where he weighed 155lbs – the contracted catchweight for this world middleweight title fight – before the champion came in at 153 1/2lbs. Three-thousand spectators packed the ballroom inside Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and erupted with excitement as the two fighters, elegantly muscled for war, went nose to nose.
“This support motivates me,” said Alvarez as his fans continued to go beserk. “I am tremendously blessed to have this support. I will pay them back with a great fight tomorrow night.”
When asked by HBO’s Kieran Mulvaney if Cotto’s weight – which was within the light-middleweight limit – meant the Puerto Rican was planning to use speed and box, Alvarez replied: “I’ve prepared for everything. I’m ready for anything he can bring, and we know what Miguel Cotto brings.”
Cotto, alongside revered trainer Freddie Roach, refused to be drawn on his tactics for the bout. “My one purpose is to win the fight however we can. That is what we will do.”
The atmosphere inside the hall – where Floyd Mayweather Snr shamelessly chatted up a girl much younger than he – was fantastic, and the high-spirited crowd sounded like their loyalties were split right down the middle for this Puerto Rico vs Mexico showdown.
“People are expecting a war and that’s what both warriors are going to give you,” said co-promoter Oscar De La Hoya. His partner at Golden Boy who is planning yet another comeback in 2016, the ageless Bernard Hopkins, believes that Alvarez will win the battle, “between the ninth and 11th round.”
As appetisers for superfights go, it was certainly a tasty one.
But some of the shine was taken off proceedings beforehand when Randy Caballero failed to make weight for his proposed undercard IBF bantamweight title defence against Lee Haskins. The British fighter was in sensational condition, tipping the scales half-a-pound below the division limit of 118lbs, but his opponent – who only yesterday told media he was in the shape of his life – weighed a completely unprofessional 123 1/2lbs.
Haskins – previously the Interim boss – has since been elevated to world champion by the IBF. He was offered a catch-weight contest with Caballero but refused because should he have lost – likely given the weight disparity – he would not have kept the title.
According to Jamie Sanigar, Haskins’ manager, Caballero’s team claimed their fighter went to bed weighing 119lbs but somehow put on four pounds overnight.
“I went straight to the IBF,” Sanigar told Boxing News about his fighter’s bizarre coronation. “I had to. Big win in Vegas!”
Elsewhere, Cuba’s surly magician Guillermo Rigondeaux weighed 121 1/2lbs for his super-bantamweight 10-round contest with Drian Francisco (121lbs).
After recently being stripped of his WBA and WBO titles for inactivity, Rigondeaux – who yesterday was chomping on cookies prior to being interviewed by BoxNation – has been particularly angry during fight week and continued the theme here.
“Whoever has my belts I’m coming for them and I’m going to get them back,” he said.