By Steve Wellings, in Las Vegas
Carl Frampton weighed in yesterday at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas and, just like his opponent Leo Santa Cruz, he made the 126 lb limit. Making weight is occasionally taken for granted in some quarters, only becoming a major factor when someone fails to slip inside the standard parameters. Here there was no catchweight nonsense, or 127.5 lb middle ground agreements – just a real fight at a real weight between two real combatants.
Skinning his frame down to a sprightly 125lbs, a weight which I haven’t “made” since I was about 8 years old, Carl appears to be revelling in his new featherweight mould. ‘El Terremoto’ meanwhile scaled the same at 125, so no issues were presented with his physique either.
There’s something primal about boxing weigh-ins. Hyped up supporters lean forward over barriers and scream with excitement as their charge stands on the scales, torso bubbling under the lack of body fat, flexing their muscles to the delight of the faithful. American security guards look on in bemusement at the fervour whipped up by this boxing formality.
“Caaaam ooon the Jackal!” shouts a middle-aged punter just behind me. Eyes bulging, belly spilling over his dark blue jeans, this chap might as well have gone through the through an intense 12-week training camp himself, such was the devotion. While my new friend was living every second, I was trying to be slightly more measured – more boring to be precise. But why not get swept up in the emotion of this occasion? After hours spent travelling across oceans and time zones surely it’s acceptable to punch the air and give it the big ‘un in the name of the Jackal.
The weigh-in as an event has become a real occasion for fans to enjoy. It provides one final opportunity to venerate and encourage a hero before he goes into war against the “enemy”. Santa Cruz isn’t so much of an enemy in this case; not really a villain at all in fact. Softly-spoken and apparently non-threatening in appearance (maybe Carl would disagree on that latter point) Leo seems like a thoroughly decent bloke. But he can fight and will no doubt put it all on the line later tonight.
Just before the weigh-in started there was a nice media luncheon provided as the weight-drained stick insects (also known as the boxers) no doubt looked on, salivating. Not many people have a kind word to say about show promoter Al Haymon. Lurking darkly in the shadows it’s hard to root for such an evasive and, at times, polarising, figure. But I’m willing to stick up for Al on this one – from a purely selfish point of view of course. Haymon’s PBC employees know how to look after the media and always put on a good spread. Sandwiches, pasta, coffee, cookies…OK, you get the point, but these things go a long way in boxing writing circles. Just ask Dan Rafael. I didn’t, mainly because he’s a unit, and he blocked me on Twitter and probably doesn’t care a jot about my eating habits or silly points of view. But he knows how to attack a quality buffet and I respect him for that.
Anyway, I digress, back to the weigh-in.
Sometimes the final days leading up to the fight give us the best opportunity to look at each man and really assess who you think is going to win. Both are, hopefully, at the peak of their powers by this point. Focused, prepared, sparring done, media all chatted too, obligations fulfilled and only one single thing left to accomplish.
Frampton struggled with super-bantamweight, no doubt, but weight will not be a factor tonight
“I see a bit more energy about Carl now and more left in the tank,” former world champion Brian Magee told me last week.
“For his size, height-wise, Carl could probably go up another weight because he’s got the power and the strength; it’s just a problem fighting the guys who are too tall for him. He’s handling them OK now though.”
Ex-British champion and one-time world title challenger Neil Sinclair concurred, citing Carl’s move up in weight as a key factor behind his resurgence -the Quigg fight aside- since the Gonzalez Jnr struggle in the desert.
“The extra four pounds have made a big difference for Carl as he’s not tiring late on now – he’s a lot stronger as the fight progresses,” agreed ‘Sinky’. “The extra pounds make you more comfortable and stronger when you’re down at the weight and drying out.”
One man who had most certainly dried out was IBF champion Lee Selby. Taking to the stage with almost translucent skin and a skeletal frame, Selby was understandably frustrated and emotional as he apologised to a small pocket of travelling Welsh fans for the fact that he would not be fighting. It wasn’t Selby’s fault, who had fulfilled all of his contractual obligations. Scheduled opponent Jonathan Barros had been forcibly removed by the Nevada Commission after reportedly testing positive for Hepatitis.
No problems, spats or medical conundrums to veer around for the main men, however. Thankfully Carlos and Leo are both primed and ready for action.
I suppose there’s only one thing left to say.
“Caaaam ooon the Jackal!”