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April 19, 2014

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BOXING:

Oddly, marquee fight’s catch weight still unknown

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Steve Marcus

Floyd Mayweather Jr. will fight Juan Manuel Marquez Sept. 19 at the MGM Grand.

FIGHT FACTS

Who: Floyd Mayweather Jr. (39-0, 25 KOs) vs. Juan Manuel Marquez (50-4-1, 37 KOs), 12 scheduled rounds

When: Sept. 19

Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena

Weight limit: Top secret, so far

Tickets: $150 to $1,000, mgmgrand.com

TV: HBO pay-per-view

Sun Coverage

When it was revealed this week that Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao will fight Nov. 14 at the MGM Grand, it was hard not to notice one particular aspect of the announcement.

Both men agreed to meet at a “catch weight” of 145 pounds, two pounds below the welterweight limit. The 145-pound mark was an acceptable compromise for Cotto, a welterweight for the past three years, and Pacquiao, who has never weighed more than 142 pounds for a fight.

Of course, the weight limit attached to a big boxing match is typically considered a piece of rudimentary information, like the date of the fight, or the venue — or the name of the tequila company that’s sponsoring the event.

Yet the promoters of another major bout scheduled for the second half of the year — Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Juan Manuel Marquez, Sept. 19 at the MGM Grand — have been unable, or unwilling, to state the weight limit for the fight.

This has created an air of mystery around Mayweather-Marquez that’s either intriguing, troubling or downright bizarre, depending on how you look at it.

Mayweather, returning to the ring after a layoff of nearly two years, made it sound as if he’s planning to push the 147-pound welterweight limit. Training at 149 to 150 pounds, Mayweather dismissed a suggestion that he’ll be required to reach a lighter catch weight.

“I’m not weighing in at 143,” Mayweather said on a teleconference. “It’s a welterweight fight. I’ll weigh what welterweights weigh. Whatever I come in weighing, that’s what I’ll come in weighing. I don’t have to weigh 143.”

A higher weight limit would suit Mayweather’s purposes. Before entering a temporary retirement, Mayweather fought twice in 2007, in title fights against Ricky Hatton at welterweight and Oscar De La Hoya at junior middleweight. Marquez moved up to the lightweight division (135 pounds) only last year.

Underscoring the notion that every pound counts in negotiating a fight’s weight limit, Mayweather took a mild shot at De La Hoya, suggesting he was too skinny in his loss to Pacquiao last year. (Mayweather Promotions and De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions are promoting Mayweather-Marquez.)

“De La Hoya was focused on losing weight instead of focusing on fighting,” Mayweather said. “I think De La Hoya was only training when the camera was on him. You’ve got to take this sport seriously. You can’t train just to lose weight. It can mess your whole career up.”

Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy, took the risky — or perhaps disingenuous — tack of claiming the shroud of secrecy was designed to build interest in the weigh-in for the fight.

“It will be the most covered weigh-in ever because everybody wants to know what the weight is,” Schaefer said. “So make sure you don’t miss it. Don’t miss the weigh-in.”

Strange indeed.

Marquez stuck to the party line, saying in Spanish only that the bout will be a welterweight fight. While that might be technically accurate, it leaves open the nontrivial question of whether the limit will be 141 pounds, 147 pounds or somewhere in between.

“There’s an agreement between us and it’s a welterweight fight,” Marquez said. “Anything over 140 is considered a welterweight fight. Everyone’s going to find out come weigh-in day.”

It’s easier to digest the other riddle linked to the fight: a rib injury suffered by Mayweather that forced the bout to be moved from its original July 18 date.

Mayweather, who has refused to divulge details of the injury, can plausibly maintain that doing so could give Marquez an advantage in preparing for the fight.

“It happened in training,” Mayweather said. “It didn’t even come from sparring. Freak accidents happen in training ... When it happened I tried to work through it. I was fine for a while but then it happened again. I can’t try to be a superhero. It was best to take a little time off, let it heal and come back so when I do come back I’ll be able to perform to the best of my ability.”

De La Hoya, who predicted a victory for Marquez and said he believes Mayweather’s injury could play a role in the outcome, was as cryptic as Schaefer in discussing the fight’s weight limit.

“I think the whole world is going to be tuning in to make (the weigh-in) an event in itself,” De La Hoya said.

This is an odd strategy, and one that could backfire. Instead of whetting the appetite of boxing fans this summer, it could make them think the architects of this promotion don’t quite have their act together.

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