Weighty matters affect Mayweather/Alvarez superfight

LAS VEGAS — Listen to Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s people, and Canelo Alvarez wanted to fight their man so badly that he offered to drop a few pounds to get him to sign on the dotted line.

Listen to the Alvarez camp, and Mayweather wanted the fight at an even lower weight that Alvarez would have to starve himself to make.

“The truth,” promoter Richard Schaefer said, “lies somewhere in the middle.”

Weight is always a big deal in fights, and it is center stage again in one of the biggest fights in years. Saturday night’s megafight is officially for a version of the 154-pound title held by Alvarez but will be fought at a catch weight of 152 pounds that will be harder for Alvarez to make.

“They’re the ones who said they would fight at a lower weight,” said Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather’s manager. “We can’t help it Alvarez has idiots for managers, but we’re going to take every advantage they give us.”

Alvarez is a full-fledged junior middleweight and has been for more than three years now. He’s physically bigger than Mayweather at 5-foot-9 and has had to lose plenty of weight in the final days before some of his recent fights just to get to the 154-pound class limit.

But when the chance came to move in to the upper stratosphere of fighters against Mayweather — with at least a $5 million payday attached to it — Alvarez had to give up a few pounds against a fighter more used to competing at 147.

“They wanted me to go to 147,” Alvarez said this week when he said he was down to 154. “I said that was physically impossible. Then they wanted 150 and then 151. I wanted to make the fight, so I agreed to 152. Then they forced me to be quiet about it.”

Getting an advantage is nothing new to Mayweather. He does it in the ring with his tremendous skills to adapt, and he does it outside the ring by playing with his opponent’s mind. For Mayweather, making Alvarez think constantly in training about making 152 pounds may have been more important than the actual weight itself.

“There’s a thousand different ways I can beat a guy,” Mayweather said.

Oddsmakers in this gambling town believe Mayweather will find one of those ways when he takes on the undefeated Mexican star in what could be boxing’s richest fight ever. He’s a 2½-to-1 favorite against a bigger and presumably stronger fighter who will probably rehydrate to enter the ring 10 pounds heavier than Mayweather, though those are the shortest odds for a Mayweather fight in years.

Mayweather will earn the biggest purse ever for a fighter: $41.5 million guaranteed, with even more millions to come if the pay-per-view takes off. Early indications are that the fight will be one of the biggest in years, with celebrities who usually get free tickets offering to pay for ringside seats at the MGM Grand hotel that first sold at $2,000 and now are being offered for as much as $29,000.

The live gate will be $20 million, and the pay-per-view could bring in another $150 million in a fight featuring the reigning king of pay-per-view against the biggest sports hero in Mexico.

“He’s put the sport on his back,” Ellerbe said of Mayweather, whose earnings for the year will total at least $73 million. “Boxing is a niche sport, but the highest-paid athlete in the world is a boxer.”