LAS VEGAS -- One of the leading storylines heading into the all-Mexican showdown between bitter rivals Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was weight -- as in, would Chavez make it?
Chavez is notorious for missing weight, so when the fight was contracted at 164.5 pounds, the lowest Chavez had to make since losing his middleweight belt to then-lineal champion Sergio Martinez in September 2012, nobody quite knew if he would make it. And if he didn't, he would owe Alvarez $1 million per fraction of a pound that he went over.
But Chavez quickly took the suspense out of a festive and raucous weigh-in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday afternoon when he climbed the stage with a big smile on his face. He knew he was on weight, and moments later when Michael Buffer called him to the scale, he was 164 pounds. It was a surprise to many that he not only made it but was under the limit for the 12-round nontitle bout Saturday (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at T-Mobile Arena.
Flanked by his legendary father, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Chavez was gaunt and quickly took fluids, but he was happy he made the weight for his first fight under legendary trainer Ignacio "Nacho" Beristain.
"I feel like 168 [pounds] is too heavy for me. I love the way I feel. I'm light, I'm faster, and I actually feel more powerful," Chavez said through a translator. "It's not that I feel proud, it's my job to make weight. I can't give Canelo any advantages. He's fast and strong, too, and I had to make sure that I was at top shape to win."
Alvarez, a former junior middleweight and middleweight world champion, has never boxed heavier than 155 pounds but looked in sensational shape as he also weighed in at 164 pounds. Nobody questioned whether he would make weight.
"I'm very excited and happy," Alvarez said through a translator as fans cheered him. "(Saturday) is for you (the fans)."
Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs), 26, said he was glad that Chavez (50-2-1, 32 KOs), 31, made the weight.
"I'm very happy he made weight," he said. "It's proof that he worked hard and proof we can give the fans a great fight."
It's likely Chavez will put on a lot of weight before entering the ring.
"I think I'll come in around 180-190 on fight night," Chavez said. "Most likely 185, because I don't want to be too heavy."
In other scheduled 10-round bouts on the pay-per-view telecast:
Former middleweight titleholder David Lemieux (37-3, 33 KOs), 28, of Montreal, and one of boxing's biggest punchers, and Marcos Reyes (35-4, 26 KOs), 29, of Mexico, both made the 163-pound contract limit for their bout, although Reyes had to strip naked after initially weighing a half-pound over. Lemieux is aiming to land a fight with Alvarez.
Argentina slugger Lucas Matthysse (37-4, 34 KOs), 34, a former interim junior welterweight titlist, and Emmanuel Taylor (20-4, 14 KOs), 26, of Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, were both at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds. Matthysse is returning from a 19-month layoff following an eye injury and broken orbital bone in his last fight and moving up in weight.
Featherweight Joseph Diaz Jr. (23-0, 13 KOs), 24, a 2012 U.S. Olympian from South El Monte, California, was 125 pounds, and Manuel "Tino" Avila (22-0, 8 KOs), 24, of Fairfield, California, was 125.5 pounds, both inside the 126-pound limit.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission also released the purse for the fighters on the card. Alvarez's contract calls for $5 million and Chavez's $3 million, although both are guaranteed millions more. Lemieux will make $200,000, Reyes $45,000, Matthysse $200,000, Taylor $40,000, Diaz $150,000 and Avila $67,000.