LAS VEGAS -- In an atmosphere that harkened back to the days when England's Ricky Hatton fought multiple times at the MGM Grand Garden Arena a decade ago and thousands of his loyal fans made the long trip to sing and cheer for him, Carl Frampton's fans were out in force at Friday's weigh-in for his much-anticipated featherweight world title rematch with Leo Santa Cruz.
Frampton, who is from Northern Ireland, did not bring as many fans as Hatton did, but thousands turned the weigh-in into an electric scene as he and Santa Cruz both made weight for the fight, which will take place Saturday night (Showtime at 10 ET with preliminary bouts on Showtime Extreme beginning at 8 ET/PT).
Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs), who outslugged Santa Cruz to win a 126-pound world title in a 2016 fight of the year contender on July 30 on his way to consensus fighter of the year honors, weighed in at 125 pounds.
"Thanks to each and every person who came out," Frampton told the crowd. "I want to send you all home happy. Last year was huge for me. I was honored to share the ring with Leo Santa Cruz and I'm happy to start 2017 the same way. It's gonna be an outstanding fight."
Los Angeles-based Mexican Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs), a three-division world titleholder bidding to regain the title, also weighed 125 pounds and had a much smaller group of the approximately 3,500 in attendance cheering for him.
"I'm very excited," Santa Cruz said. "The only thing on my mind is revenge and getting the win. I know it's going to be another tough fight and that he's a great fighter."
The fighters have shown tremendous respect for each other through the promotion of their two fights and they appear to genuinely like each other. After posing for photos after they made weight, they shook hands, smiled at each other and slapped each other on the back.
Lightweight world titleholder Dejan Zlaticanin (22-0, 15 KOs), the first fighter from Montenegro to win a world title, and two-division titleholder Mikey Garcia (35-0, 29 KOs), of Oxnard, California, also made weight for their bout.
Zlaticanin and Garcia were both 134.5 pounds, a half-pound under the division limit.
"Everyone knows Mikey Garcia, but after the fight they'll all know my name," Zlaticanin, who will be making his first defense, said through a translator. "If he wants to box and run circles around me, it will take time for me to track him down. If he wants to bang with me, you know [how] that will turn out."
Said Garcia: "Adding that title to the list is another honor. Saturday night I will become a three-division world champion."
A third-world title fight between featherweight titlist Lee Selby (23-1, 8 KOs), of Wales, and former titleholder and mandatory challenger Jonathan Victor Barros (41-4-1, 21 KOs), of Argentina, was canceled at the weigh-in because the Nevada State Athletic Commission declined to license Barros.
"Barros was not approved to fight by the NSAC because he failed to submit his application and medical records to include blood test results," Bob Bennett, the executive director of the commission, told ESPN. "Based on these facts the fight was scratched. The NSAC continues to consider the health and safety of the fighters as our No. 1 priority."
A source with direct knowledge of the situation told ESPN that Barros' blood test came back positive for hepatitis, a condition that disqualifies a boxer from being licensed under Nevada rules. Barros was absent from the open workout on Wednesday and the final press conference on Thursday, so rumors circulated that there may have been an issue with his prefight medical exam.
Selby, hoping to shine in his third title defense and set up a huge title unification fight with Frampton this summer in the United Kingdom, was heartbroken to have the fight canceled. He had already arrived at the weigh-in on weight when he and his team learned the fight was off less than a half hour before he was to step on the scale.
"Sadly the fight did not happen," said Selby, who earlier in the week declared that his boxing dream since he was a child was to box in a world title fight in Las Vegas. "For some reason my opponent can't fight. I'm almost in tears, but I'm too dehydrated to cry. This was a big moment for me. But I'll be back. I made weight. I was ready to go. This was my big chance to shine. This was my big stage."
Selby, who has not fought for nine months and is probably looking at another few months off, was due to earn $100,000. It had not been determined yet but he probably will receive a portion of the money for his trouble. Barros was due to make $25,000.
Frampton's purse, according the commission documents, is $1 million while Santa Cruz is due $900,000. Zlaticanin will earn $320,000 and Garcia will make $375,000.
With Selby-Barros off, the eight-round super middleweight fight between hot prospect David Benavidez (16-0, 15 KOs), of Phoenix, and Uzbekistan's Sherali Mamadjanov (14-1, 7 KOs) will top the Showtime Extreme portion of the card, and the eight-round junior welterweight bout between Josh Taylor (7-0, 7 KOs), a 2012 Olympian for Scotland who turned pro in 2015, and Mexico's Alfonso Olvera (8-2-1, 3 KOs) will move onto the telecast.