March 19th, 2014 By Pedro FernandezWEIGHTY PROBLEMS IGNORED
San Francisco, CA- This article is the first in what will be a series on some much needed improvements regarding the safety of boxing. This first installment looks at the current system of weighing fighters in the day prior to a fight.
THE NOW “FAKE” WEIGHT CLASSES
Having myself been a big jr. welter (140 lbs), while at the same time an undersized welter (147), nobody was more concerned at most of my weigh ins than yours truly. Once I weighed 143 and change for a welterweight bout in Las Vegas at the Showboat Hotel. Having hit the scale early in the week for the Golden Glove National Regionals, when I looked across the ring five days later at a 165 lb. Ernie Chavez, I thought, “That must be his brother.” After almost beheading me, southpaw Ernie would later rock Meldrick Taylor’s world before losing and then retiring soon thereafter.
ALMOST EVERYBODY NOW DOING WHAT ERNIE DID
With the exception of Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, and maybe Grandpa Nard’ Hopkins, just about every professional fighting today at the championship level (except heavyweights) is fighting at least one weight class lighter than what he should be. Example: Jorge Arce was under 112 lbs. for a flyweight title at the weigh in. Time and again Jorge would weigh over 125, sometimes as much as 128 + stepping into the ring. At the same time his foes were coming into the ring circa 115-118. Can you imagine what a ten pound advantage is at that weight?
LIST IS TOO LONG TO PRINT
Without singling out anybody in particular as to whom benefits most by the current weighing system that was first employed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for an IBF 160 lb. title tilt in 1988 between a dehydrated champ Frank Tate and Michael Nunn.
HALL OF FAME DAD TO DAUGHTER & FIGHTERS
My good friend, God bless him, Tate’s manager Bob Spagnola, if he hadn’t been so good at lobbying for his fighter day before the fight weigh ins might never have become the norm. Bob has watched a few guys almost kill himself making weight like Tate did for Nunn, so he sees it from he doesn’t like fighters he represents getting hurt But I say if you can’t fight at the weight, then you CAN’T Fight at the weight. It’s as simple as that.
NCAA & PENNSYLVANIA “KEEPIN’ IT REAL”
After a barrage of studies, tests, this conducted over a five year period, the NCAA, which governs college athletics in the US, went to same day weigh ins for their amateur wrestlers. In fact not only same day, but three hours prior to the match! The alleged main concern with weighing the day before is that it reduces the possibility of a dehydrated fighter getting hurt. This lame reason has bastardized the weight class structure. The NCCA and Pennsylvania, for all but the big title fights, it is same day weigh ins!
CHAMPS SHOULD DEFEND AT THE WEIGHT
This is why the NCAA did three hour prior weigh ins. All of a sudden guys were wrestling closer to their weight class limit. Don’t you think that the fighters should be fighting at or close to their natural weights. Undefeated Floyd Mayweather is the exception to the rule as he fights close to the contracted weights.
ALL THE GREATS WEIGHED IN ON DAY OF FIGHT
With the exception of heavyweight title fights, of which the weigh ins were themselves media events, all the greats from Willie Pep and Ray Robinson to Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran, they weighed in on the day of the fight. Somebody should the Nevada Commission how can guys like then welterweight (147) Miguel Cotto be allowed to step into a ring 30 hrs. later some 20 or so lbs. heavier. How can this still be billed as a welterweight fight?
MILLS LANE A WELTER BEFORE GETTING SICK
While working with retired referee Mills Lane in the year preceding and leading up to his Stroke on the “Let’s Get It On” Boxing Series that was about to hit the big time and CBS until the Hall of Fame referee got sick, Mills Lane was right at 147 for our last gig. Biw you might say so what, but that’s what Mills won the National Golden Glove title.
SIZE DISADVANTAGE MOST DANGEROUS FOR “TBA” FIGHTERS
What this does is it sets up a severe disadvantage for some, especially the “opponent” types as they’re already undersized a lot of the time. These guys are the lowest on the pugilistic food chain and take fights against bigger guys to eat. But fair play is not what boxing is about, it’s about the powers that be making money period! The suits, they know of the NCAA tests and how it is better for the athlete. But the financial and logistical advantages of day before weigh ins trump fighter safety, always have, always will!