MAYWEATHER vs. MARQUEZ

September 19, 2009 // 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT (HBO PPV)

Number 1/Numero Uno // MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas

BEHIND - THE - SCENES BLOG

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Saturday, 11:35 p.m. ET -- Main event time

Time to bow out. Thanks for your great e-mails all week, and stick with us for the blow-by-blow coverage. I hand you over to Darius Ortiz. The blog has left the building. Click on "Punch-By-Punch" above for all the action.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 11:35 p.m. ET -- John leaves no doubt this time

The rematch wasn't nearly as exciting as the first fight, but this time the conclusion was more conclusive as Indonesia's Chris John (43-0-2, 22 KOs) retained his featherweight title for the 12th time with a unanimous decision against Houston's Rocky Juarez (28-5-1, 20 KOs) in the final preliminary fight.

The three judges all gave it to John, but they were all over the place -- 119-109, 117-111 and 114-113.

It was a rematch of their Feb. 28 slugfest in Juarez's hometown of Houston. It was ruled a draw even though most at ringside had John, who dominated early until Juarez came on strong in the final quarter of the fight, clearly winning. But it was such a good scrap they made a rematch. John played the boxer again, dancing and jabbing and stopping long enough to get off fast combinations. Juarez, with his new Mohawk haircut, stalked forward throwing one punch at a time.

Something from John landed hard in the first round because Juarez wound up with swelling around his left eye. John's left eye began to swell midway through the fight.

In the 11th round, Juarez seemed to hurt a tiring John in the 11th but he couldn't take advantage of it. With 30 seconds left in the fight, he staggered John with a left hook and had him in very bad trouble, but John hung on to make it to the final bell.

For Juarez, it was yet another disappointment in a title bout. He is now 0-5-1 in world title fights, losing to Marco Antonio Barrera (twice), Juan Manuel Marquez and Humberto Soto. And now he's 0-1-1 against John.

-- Dan Rafael


Saturday, 11:20 p.m. ET -- Mike Tyson in the house

Mike Tyson in the house. Time was, not so long ago, when the crowd would flock to him like iron filings to a magnet. Now, he shows up on the JumboTron and he doesn't get a reaction other than, "Hey, isn't that the guy from 'The Hangover'?"

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 11:12 p.m. ET -- More atmosphere

OK, now this is starting to feel like a fight crowd. A restrained fight crowd, granted. But it has the audible hymn now of a crowd that has reached critical mass. Now, if Juan Manuel Marquez somehow pulls this off, this lot is going to scream with joy with enough volume to blow the roof off the arena.

The crowd now includes a young lady wearing a sailor's cap, a tutu, and stockings. Just thought I'd share. Oh, and Diddy's here too.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 11:10 p.m. ET -- What's the weight?

Mayweather wouldn't step on HBO's unofficial scale but Marquez did. He weighed 148 pounds, gaining just six pounds since Friday's weigh-in.

-- Dan Rafael


Saturday, 10:40 p.m. ET -- Katsidis-Escobedo delivers

Can you believe this? I am on a dial-up connection because the wireless melted down inside the Grand Garden Arena. Despite the problems, at least this Michael Katsidis-Vicente Escobedo fight has been the slugfest many of us believed it would be. These guys are very, very tough customers. Katsidis (26-2, 21 KOs) suffered a cut over his left eye in the first round from an accidental head butt and fought with damage the entire fight. By the time the hard-hitting fight was over, they both had damage on their faces, but Katsidis appeared to outslug Escobedo and took a split decision. Two judges had it for the Australian, 118-110 from Robert Hoyle and 115-113 from Duane Ford. Judge Mike Fitzgerald surprisingly had it for Escobedo, a 2004 U.S. Olympian, 116-112. With the victory, Katsidis picked up a vacant interim lightweight belt for the second time.

"I'm ecstatic," Katsidis said. "I'm back. It's an amazing thing to win a title again. I'm a fighter that gives it all and I needed to give it all to win it. I was going to put in more than he was."

Said Escobedo (21-2, 13 KOs), "He's a strong fighter and he just kept coming in. I thought I won the fight, but it was a close fight. It was a tough, good fight. It's OK. There's always a next time. It was a split decision for my first world title."

-- Dan Rafael


Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET -- Triple H arrives

Mild buzz as Triple H and entourage walk through the arena. Seats are slowly starting to fill up. Still not a lot of energy coursing through the place, but the crowd is appreciative of a good effort by Michael Katsidis and Vicente Escobedo.

-- Dan Rafael


Saturday, 10:10 p.m. ET -- And in Mayweather's corner …

Triple H will be walking Floyd Mayweather to the ring tonight; yesterday, he told me how the two got to know each other during Mayweather's appearance on WrestleMania nearly years two ago.

"When Floyd came to wrestle for us, Vince [McMahon] asked me to train him," he said. "I met with Floyd a bunch of times and we'd get together in the ring, and I taught him a bunch of things and we became friends. Just recently he hosted the show for us, and that night he asked me if I would be interested in walking to the ring with him.

"I was pleasantly surprised; about five minutes after meeting Floyd I thought, 'This is going to work out great,' because the first thing he said to me is, 'I want this to be awesome. I want to do everything I can to make it the best on the show.' And when I started to ask him about things, no matter what it was, he said, 'I want to do that. Show me how to do that exactly.' He would practice until he got it right.

"He was just so dedicated. I was really impressed with him. We have a lot of celebrities come on the show and we may have them do one thing, come in and whack a guy or something. Floyd had to go out there with a 500-pound guy for 12, 15 minutes, and perform, do something he hadn't done before, and he knocked it out of the park.

"Ninety-nine percent of the people I know who have a God-given gift to do things easily are lazy. They don't apply themselves to that gift, they never reach the heights they could. Floyd is the exact opposite. He has the ability to be incredibly fast, to be agile, to be light on his feet, to be an incredible boxer, but he doesn't rely on that. He trains like nobody else, he studies like nobody else. He's the best at what he does."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 9:35 p.m. ET -- Boos

Big boos for Floyd Mayweather when he appeared on the JumboTron. It's a Marquez crowd.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 9:30 p.m. ET -- Lights out

In the first televised bout, featherweight Cornelius Lock (19-4-1, 12 KOs) stopped Orlando Cruz (16-1-1, 7 KOs) at 2 minutes, 8 seconds of the fifth round in a dominating performance. Lock, who is one of Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s fighters, scored two knockdowns in the first round on his way to the stoppage. Wish I could give you a lot more details but the arena was dealing with massive wireless problems, so many of us were scurrying to deal with it. Lock and Cruz were fighting their fight inside the ring, we were battling technology outside of it. It's good to be back -- for now. -- Dan Rafael


Saturday, 9:15 p.m. ET -- Underway

We are underway with the televised portion of the fight card. On my way into the arena, I heard the first cheers and chants for Juan Manuel Marquez from the direction of the MGM Grand food court. Let's hope the atmosphere continues to build and that the fans have something to cheer for.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 7:50 p.m. ET -- Lara wins

The big card has begun here at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Not much of a crowd for the early going but I wanted to see junior middleweight Erislandy Lara. He's a stud prospect and former world amateur champion who defected from Cuba and has become a staple of Golden Boy undercards. Lara (8-0, 5 KOs) didn't need long to blow out Jose Varela (23-7, 16 KOs) in one of the untelevised bouts. All it took was a hard straight left hand to knock Varela down to his backside. As referee Kenny Bayless counted, Varela shook his head and had no intention of getting to his feet in time to beat the count. Time of the knockout: 2 minutes, 12 seconds. Lara is going places.


-- Dan Rafael


Saturday, 7:45 p.m. ET -- The crowd

Official projections for tonight are for a crowd of around 13,500.

Discussions with the folks who can best assess such things -- ushers and the people who guard the door to the media room -- suggest that the estimate may be about right. But the most notable thing so far is how incredibly quiet the casino is. You have to assume that things will change as the evening evolves, but so far there is little excitement, virtually no electricity or buzz -- just a stream of people wandering into the arena.


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 7:35 p.m. ET -- Oscar the promoter

One man who knows a lot about a big fight week is Oscar De La Hoya. But the Golden Boy claims he's still learning the transition from fighter to full-time promoter.

"I feel as if I just turned professional, you know?" he told me. "And I've had a few fights, but still I have to get more experience. I have about nine, 10, 11 fights under my belt, but once I hit 15 fights, I'll be ready to step it up. It's been a great experience, but the best is yet to come."

Here's how De La Hoya breaks down Juan Manuel Marquez's chances against Floyd Mayweather tonight:

"For Mayweather, the weaknesses are going to be the time off, the distractions outside the ring and the rib injury. And most importantly, the opponent that he chose to come back with. Marquez is a dangerous fighter because of his style. He's a smart boxer, he's a very intelligent fighter, but at the same time, he has that lion's heart. He fights to the end. He can get dropped 10 times and he'll still come back and fight as hard as he can. So I think that combination of him being smart and him fighting to the end, I think it's going to be complicated for Mayweather."


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET -- Behind the cameras

If you've ordered this pay-per-view (or any recent Golden Boy Promotions card), chances are you've seen the preview documentary that has been running on HBO and immediately precedes the telecast. The documentary for this fight is the 20th produced by Leigh Simons, who is producer and creative director for Golden Boy Promotions.

"The very first thing I do is I think of the personalities of the fighters, what they bring to the matchup and what their personalities are," Simons told me. "Their personalities are going to help me to understand [how] to sell the fight, to create the drama in the show that is going to engage people to want to believe in the contract. And their style is what is going to enable them to back that up."

He first encountered the Golden Boy team when he was producing a show called "Secrets of Superstar Fitness" for the Discovery Channel. "And I went up to Big Bear, Oscar was training for Yory Boy Campas, and we hit it off," Simons said. "After the fight, I hung out with him and his wife, we tore it up, it was like a mini [HBO] '24/7,' they let me shoot everything. And two weeks later, Richard called and said, 'Oscar really liked the show, what else can we do together?'"


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 7:10 p.m. ET -- The Bert and Kieran Show

For education, enlightenment and often unintentional hilarity, check out The Bert and Kieran Show (more formally known as The Sweet Science with Bert Sugar) put together by our friends at HBO.com.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 7:05 p.m. ET -- What Watt says

I asked former WBC lightweight champion and now Sky Sports commentator Jim Watt about the weight issue, and about the Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez fight.

"Mayweather was going to come into the fight at whatever weight he was going to come, so I don't think that's going to have any bearing on the outcome," Watt said. "But I think it'll have a bearing on Mayweather's performance, because I think he'll box better. He had all the advantages going into the fight already, and I think his camp's pulled a masterstroke because now he's got another advantage. I don't think he ever did [plan to make 144].

"I would have loved this match to have been made when both could fight at super featherweight [130 pounds]. What a match that would have been. But Mayweather has grown into the welterweight division. He's not a massive welterweight, but look at him at 146; there's not an ounce [of fat] on him.

"On the plus side, I still think [Marquez] punches harder than Mayweather. But Mayweather's the wrong style for him. He's going to have to chase Mayweather, which he's perfectly prepared to do. I imagine the Marquez plan is to go to the body. If you're in with a guy who's difficult to catch to the head, then why not go to the body? You can't move the body out [of] the way; you can with the head."


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 7 p.m. ET -- Really not feeling it now

I was having a hard enough time getting into tonight's Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez fight, but after the shenanigans with the contracts and the weight, it's even harder.

Under normal circumstances, the inclination would be to grant a fighter the benefit of the doubt, assume he tried to make weight but just was not able to squeeze those final two pounds from his frame. But from day one, Floyd Mayweather and his camp refused to discuss the contract weight, saying only that it was a "welterweight fight." They did not submit their bout agreement to the Nevada Commission until the last possible moment. And those involved in the promotion continue to assert that this was always contracted as a 147-pound fight, despite the fact that Keith Kizer of the Nevada Athletic State Commission said that Marquez's agreement was for 144 pounds until it was retrieved from the Commission on Friday, and returned with 144 scratched out and 147 penciled in.

With all the obfuscation, really, why give anyone the benefit of the doubt?

Even if Mayweather really, really did try to make 144, the arrangement highlights the inequity in boxing and the trend of paying off opponents instead of meeting your contractual obligations. It is, of course, relatively easy for the rich fighters to write off a half million dollars or so; but what's a fighter in Juan Manuel Marquez's position supposed to do? Refuse to go ahead with the bout and turn down the biggest payday of his life?

Rant over.


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET -- Worth the weight

We can confirm, via Keith Kizer of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, that the contracted weight was changed this morning from 144 to 147. Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer has said there will be a substantial additional payment to Juan Manuel Marquez. Our own Dan Rafael is digging for more information right now, so be sure to check the ESPN.com boxing page for the latest reporting from him.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 7:15 p.m. ET -- About the weights

The word now is that the two camps renegotiated the weights this morning, after team Mayweather said Floyd would not make 146. In return for his agreement, Marquez received more money. The question now of course is whether Floyd ever did intend to make 144, or whether this was the plan all along. We will look to get confirmation from Nevada officials and/or representatives of the two camps.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 6:25 p.m. ET -- Weigh-in controversy

So Floyd Mayweather wasn't just playing a game when he refused to divulge the contracted weights. We had confirmation from Keith Kizer of the Nevada State Athletic Commission yesterday that Juan Manuel Marquez, for one, was contracted to weigh 144. But although he came in under that, at a generally solid 142 -- even though it did look as if just a tiny bit of that weight was, shall we say, spare -- Mayweather weighed in at a ripped and lean 146. We'll have to do some digging, but they must have had two separate weight agreements.

There was a pretty solid crowd at the weigh-in, which was staged as a big event in and of itself. Massively pro-Marquez gathering but with a vocal minority of Mayweather fans.


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 5:45 p.m. ET -- The gathering

Twenty or so minutes before the main event weigh-in and a very healthy crowd is gathering for the weigh-in. The doors are open and there's a decent number of fans heading in in anticipation of the fun and games. At first blush, seems like the crowd is predominantly pro-Marquez.


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 4:35 p.m. ET -- Some Golden observations

I am always fascinated by the psychology of being a professional prizefighter. Most boxers will tell you that boxing is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. I asked Oscar De La Hoya -- a man who knows a lot about headlining a big fight card -- what he thought Floyd Mayweather and Juan Manuel Marquez would be going through with the weigh-in just a couple of hours away.

"It's the most nerve-racking experience that any fighter has to face, the night before the fight," De La Hoya said. "You're asking yourself all these questions: Did I train right? Should I have run that extra mile? I shouldn't have eaten that hamburger. You're worried about the weight. The butterflies in your stomach -- they're moths; it's incredible. It's really nerve-wrecking. And if you don't know how to handle it, it can get the best of you."


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 4:25 p.m. ET -- Tweet, Tweet

Oscar De La Hoya is tweeting his way through Saturday's Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez fight at twitter.com/oscardelahoya. And he's actually filing the entries himself. How do I know this? Because he looked up at me as he played with his BlackBerry, flashed the famous Golden Boy smile and said, "Look! I'm tweeting!"


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 3:45 p.m. ET -- Who says boxing is dead?

Mark Taffett of HBO PPV points out that the years 2006-08 were three of the four most successful years in the company's history. Boxing is dead, right?

Taffett provided an interesting comparison between the combined box-office and pay-per-view revenues of big fights, and the opening-weekend grosses of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters:

Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather: $136.6 million. De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao: $69.9 million. "The Dark Knight:" $67.1 million. "Harry Potter:" $58.5 million. Floyd Mayweather-Ricky Hatton: $50.7 million. "Star Wars III:" $50 million. "Pirates of the Caribbean:" $44.1 million. Pacquiao-Hatton: $41.6 million.

Not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, granted, but an interesting illustration that a big fight weekend is still a genuinely big and potentially lucrative event.


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 3 p.m. ET -- Atmosphere

Folks often ask me about fight week atmosphere, and believe it or not, it is often difficult to give much of an assessment.

There is a very small number of superfights with which the buzz is palpable by midweek, and in truly exceptional circumstances -- the most notable being Floyd Mayweather-Ricky Hatton -- the atmosphere is electric early in the week.

So far, this fight hasn't felt particularly buzzworthy around the MGM, but nor has it felt as flat as, say, Hatton-Malignaggi did.

And while it isn't necessarily the most representative barometer, most Las Vegans I've bumped into know all about it.

But even the biggest and most exciting fight weeks rarely truly kick into gear until Friday afternoon. The first test of whether this bout really is generating much of a buzz will likely come with the weigh-in, which is open to the public at the MGM Grand Garden Arena at 5:30 p.m. ET, at which point the alleged mystery about Floyd Mayweather's weight will be resolved.

The weigh-in will be streamed live on ESPNNEWS and ESPN.com.


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 2:25 p.m. ET -- How well will it do?

There has been plenty of speculation about how well ticket sales are going, and how well the fight will do on pay-per-view.

I have heard that while the arena is not a sellout -- so far, according to my sources, it looks like it will be a couple thousand short of capacity -- ticket sales aren't the utter disaster that has been suggested.

As for pay-per-view possibilities: Mark Taffet of HBO PPV, who's a straight shooter, argues that the fight combines the strongest players in the two strongest markets -- Hispanic and urban -- and that because there is little crossover between those two markets, the figure could be surprisingly high. He points out, for example, that Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez did 410,000 buys, more than Pacquiao did for any of his fights against Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales.

Personal prediction: Expect in excess of 500,000 but less than 750,000 buys on Saturday.


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 2 p.m. ET -- How it began

Golden Boy kindly provided dinner for the media at Diego's at the MGM Grand on Thursday night. I skipped it for a more private function, hanging out on a balcony at the Turnberry Towers apartment building, reflecting on old times with a good friend I have known for the best part of two decades now.

As we talked, I surprised myself a little when I realized I first came to Las Vegas to cover boxing as long ago as 2003. I consider myself a neophyte, and I really am, but six years is a good chunk of time.

I was living at the time in a cabin in Alaska, writing about science and environmental subjects, as I had been since I was 18. I needed a change. I had managed to make some money from a profoundly inconsequential Web site and so I decided to move to Las Vegas to write about boxing. The original goal had been to write a book, but that fell through because publishers insisted that "boxing fans don't buy books."

I stuck around anyway, and eventually -- I think in 2005 -- a publicist introduced to me to the then-boxing editor at ESPN.com. The next year, I was sitting ringside at the Oleg Maskaev-Hasim Rahman rematch, when a 30-second chat over the phone got me the job as boxing writer for Reuters.

My first fight was Oscar De la Hoya-Yory Boy Campas at the Mandalay Bay. The big controversy then was Campas' claim to be drinking a "magic potion."

Fast-forward six years and Juan Manuel Marquez is drinking a "magic potion" of his own. How things change.


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 1:50 a.m. ET -- Shameless plug

Even as I write about boxing, I stick with my original vocation. Cue shameless self-promotion: Last weekend, I scored the cover story in the Washington Post Magazine with a piece on polar bears in Canada.


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 1:40 p.m. ET -- The undercard

Kyle Stilwell writes from Indiana, with an important observation:

"I'm pumped for the fight this weekend, but one thing that seems to be getting overlooked recently is the strength of this undercard! We got the worst undercard of all time when Oscar fought Manny Pacquiao. When De La Hoya and Mayweather fought it was a second rate undercard and most recently the Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton undercard was utterly pathetic.

The Michael Katsidis-Vicente Escobedo fight is a classic matchup of boxer versus brawler, and the Chris John-Rocky Juarez bout should be a high activity fight with some drama. Hopefully this starts a trend that would be welcomed by any true boxing fan, giving us a complete product for our pay-per-view money! Good move by GBP and it should be a great weekend of fights."

Kyle, well said. We rightfully complain when undercards are awful, but credit where credit is due. Saturday's is a good one.


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 1:30 p.m. ET -- Media room Mayweathers

A lot has been written -- some fair, some perhaps unfair, some accurate, some exaggerated -- about the Mayweather family over the years. It's easy to forget, with all their boasts of who is the best at this and that and their reported estrangements, that they are at heart still a family.

Case in point: As the media room emptied out last night, among the few stragglers were Roger Mayweather, his young son, and Floyd Sr. And as most of the rest of us packed our bags for the day, there was Floyd Sr., holding up his hands as mitts as his little nephew worked the combinations.

"What do you want to bet, in 15 years time, we'll be here writing about Roger's kid, or Floyd Jr.'s kid?" asked my friend and colleague Dan Rafael as we watched the scene.


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 9:40 a.m. ET -- Who's the best?

Andrew Pratt writes to say:

"I am still stymied about how Roger Mayweather continues to claim to be the best trainer. In HBO's '24/7' series, he said that he doesn't have to tell Floyd what to do in training because Floyd already knows and that his only strategy is for 'my nephew to win.' What, then, does he actually do as a trainer, much less justify being called 'the best?' I know he does do more than nothing, but his act is growing quite old."

I have nothing to add. Except: Thank you Andrew.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 9:30 a.m. ET -- Roger Mayweather on Floyd Mayweather. And Marquez.

Roger Mayweather had little good to say about Manny Pacquiao, who has been almost universally anointed as No. 1, pound for pound, in the world, during Roger's nephew's absence from the ring.

"I don't see how Pacquiao is best," Mayweather said. "He's already got a loss. How is he gonna be the best if he already got a loss?"

Roger would presumably have applied the same argument to Sugar Ray Robinson in advance of Robinson's first fight with Randy Turpin. ("He's 128-1-2. How can he be the best?").

"Floyd ain't lost. He's got six world championships already, so how is he not going to be the best? You can't be the best fighter just because you beat Oscar De La Hoya. Floyd beat De La Hoya too and he did it at a higher weight."

Given the Mayweather camp's constant downplaying of the notion of a fight with Shane Mosley, Uncle Roger did make one interesting comment. "I don't think [Floyd] is bothered about Pacquiao," Roger said. "Pacquiao can't beat Shane Mosley. Shane gives [Floyd] a better fight than Pacquiao would."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 9:15 a.m. ET -- Roger Mayweather on Floyd Mayweather. And Marquez.

Roger Mayweather graced a few of us with his presence in the media room for a half-hour or so Thursday. He had a few things to say about his nephew, his nephew's opponent and his nephew's possible next opponent.

"My nephew's the most skilled fighter in the world, period," he said.

Juan Manuel Marquez isn't bad either, he conceded.

"He's got a little bit of head movement, he's got some boxing skill, and obviously he's got some tough will. So he ain't the easiest guy to beat. He ain't bad. It's just that he's facing the best guy in the sport."

Is Marquez a good opponent for Floyd?

"Since he's a prime fighter who beat all the rest of the guys and fought to a draw with Pacquiao, it's the only fight that really makes sense," Mayweather said.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 6:05 p.m. ET -- So what IS the weight?

Team Mayweather has continued to treat the weight for Saturday's fight as if it is some kind of exciting mystery and that the uncertainty will make people tune in to the weigh-in on Friday.

During the initial press announcement, Oscar De La Hoya and matchmaker Eric Gomez said the weight would be 144 pounds but Floyd Mayweather and adviser Leonard Ellerbe danced around the issue, saying only that it would be a "welterweight fight."

Nevada State Athletic Commission Keith Kizer told me he won't see final contracts until tomorrow morning but that he understands, as does everyone else, that the contracted weight is 144, although Juan Manuel Marquez can presumably come in several pounds lighter.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 6 p.m. ET -- Vicious Victor in the house

My buddy "Vicious" Victor Ortiz just walked into the media room, smiling and friendly as always. He has a pretty nice little scar on his right wrist following surgery to repair cartilage and tendon damage that he suffered before his first career loss, to Marcos Maidana, in June.

He jokes that he needs to get back in the gym -- "I haven't been eating too healthy," he said -- but at present he is looking toward a possible comeback fight on Dec. 12.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 5:40 p.m. ET -- Simons Says

Just spent an interesting 20 minutes or so chatting with Leigh Simons, who produces many of the 30-minute pay-per-view previews for Golden Boy fight cards. He had an interesting perspective on Saturday's Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez fight.

"Mayweather hasn't fought anyone as good as Marquez is right now for the last five years," he said. "And Juan Manuel Marquez has reinvented himself and shown more grit, more determination, more knockout power as he moved up than he did at the lighter weights. And I also know from working with Bernard Hopkins that, at this age moving up in weight -- you guys are going to be very surprised when Marquez takes his shirt off tomorrow. He's going to wear this weight very easily."

Does he benefit from the fight having been delayed from its original date of July 18, in that he has had an extra couple of months to grow used to the extra weight?

"Absolutely," Simons said. "It was a gift to him. Thing is, nobody's learned from Hopkins. 'Hopkins is moving up to fight Tarver. He's going to get killed.' It's not just that he's one of the greatest fighters of this past decade. It's also that he's studied the metamorphosis of a fighter's physiology as he gets older. He's disciplined, and Marquez is disciplined. He never got out of shape between fights; neither does Marquez. And now Marquez is moving up in weight just like Hopkins did. I like his increased weight. I don't think he loses speed and I think he takes punches better."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 3:40 p.m. ET -- Who says size matters?

Keep the e-mails comin'.

Joe Stearns writes to take issue with the conventional wisdom on this fight and to remind me of an inaccurate prognostication from my ESPN.com colleagues and me:

"With regard to the size advantage which Mayweather possesses, the bottom line is that the best fighter on Saturday night is going to win the fight.

"Take, for example, the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya. You, Dan Rafael and Graham Houston all picked De La Hoya to win largely due to the size advantage he possessed -- and we all know how that turned out.

"De La Hoya also possessed a size advantage against Mayweather and lost that fight. I think people make too much of size as a factor in boxing. The fighter who has the best night on Saturday will win because he was the better boxer, not because he was the bigger man. If Mayweather beats Marquez it won't be because he's bigger, it will be because he is a gifted fighter who always shows up prepared to fight under any circumstances. I personally can't stand the persona he creates for himself, but let's give credit where credit is due."


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 2 p.m. ET -- Time to play the game

Floyd Mayweather has knocked out The Big Show at "WrestleMania" and hosted "WWE Monday Night Raw." Continuing the crossover, he will be escorted to the ring on Saturday by Triple H.

This is becoming something of a tradition. Another WWE superstar, Batista, walked fellow Filipino Manny Pacquiao to the ring for PacMan's fight with Ricky Hatton in May. Given Pacquiao's explosive performance that night, Mayweather has to regard that accompaniment as a good omen.

Mayweather himself walked to the ring with fellow "Dancing with the Stars" contestants Helio Castroneves and Wayne "Mr. Las Vegas" Newton before he dismantled Hatton in December 2007.

No word on whether Triple H (whose friends may or may not call him Single H) will perform his signature ring entrance move -- climb the top turnbuckle and spit water over media row -- or whether Marquez insisted on a "no folding steel chairs or concealed brass knuckles" clause in the contract for Saturday's bout.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 1:15 p.m. ET -- Chicks, man

Remember those fluffy chicks that I mentioned were at the Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez news conference yesterday but then strangely disappeared?

Turns out they had been planned as a retort from Marquez (and Oscar De La Hoya) to Mayweather for a stunt Floyd pulled at a news conference in advance of his fight with the Golden Boy in 2007. Then, Mayweather produced a chicken with a gold medal around its neck -- reference to De La Hoya's sometime former nickname of "Chicken De la Hoya."

In response, Team Marquez had placed pennies around the necks of the two chicks, and intended to present them to Mayweather at the press conference. But then everything changed when Nacho Beristain, Marquez's trainer, praised the Mayweather clan during his time at the podium.

Mayweather graciously shook Beristain's hand, and promptly decided to cut Uncle Roger's appearance out of the news conference schedule. Roger, it turned out, had a box with the words "Cow Pie" on it, and planned to say to Marquez something along the lines of "If you drink your urine, why don't you eat this?" Presumably followed by a 10-minute diatribe about Angelo Dundee.

Responding to the sudden civility, De La Hoya and Marquez elected to save the chicks' appearance for another day, and in the end, what had been planned as a presser full of confrontational one-upmanship turned into a gentlemanly and classy affair.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 10:50 a.m. ET -- Bert sees it even

According to the ever-venerable Bert Sugar, the long odds on Juan Manuel Marquez (he is a 4-1 underdog against Floyd Mayweather) make this "what I call an arrivederci fight -- it's a good buy."

Whereas most other analysts see the advantages as clearly in Mayweather's favor, Sugar says he sees it as even.

"When was the fight originally scheduled to take place?" he asks rhetorically, referring to the fact that the bout has been delayed from its original July 18 date. "Why was it postponed? Because Mayweather suffered a rib injury. Where is Marquez particularly effective? To the body. What does Mayweather do when you try to hit him in the head? He pulls back behind his shoulder, leaving his body vulnerable.

"I think for the first few rounds, you are going to hear the rust falling off Mayweather. If there is any rust on him, if he has any trouble getting his timing back, this could be interesting."


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 10:40 a.m. ET -- What's that taste?

It took a while, but eventually somebody asked Juan Manuel Marquez the inevitable urine-drinking question. He was tremendously good-natured and relaxed about it.

He said drinking his urine is something he's done before his fights for the past three years. He drinks it twice a day: Once in the morning, once in the evening.

"In the morning, it doesn't have a taste. At night, it's a little strong," he said.

And what does his wife think about this?

"When I finish drinking my [urine] I kiss my wife," he laughed.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 10:30 a.m. ET -- Unfair to Floyd?

Tim from parts unknown:

"How is it that Floyd Mayweather taking on the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world -- that some feel beat Manny Pacquiao twice -- is thought of as a mismatch and a testament to how Mayweather is a cherry picker and a fraud, but everyone is (including me) clamoring for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. I feel that they are both very intriguing matchups for the sport of boxing. Don't you feel in your heart of hearts that Floyd is being unfairly treated in the way that people are putting down this fight and making as though a Pacquiao fight is the best thing ever when in reality they had two razor-close fights against each other that people are split down the middle on who won them."

Tim, that's really a great question -- and a fair one. I think Floyd makes a rod for his own back by talking about how he is the best fighter ever, and he always fights the best and always beats the best. But unfortunately, at least over the past few years, that has been a more difficult claim to defend than in his early years as a world champion, when he was utterly dominant against terrific opposition. As a consequence, he is held to higher standards. But as a comeback fight after two years off, Marquez is absolutely a tougher prospect than, for example, Kevin Howard, who was the guy Sugar Ray Leonard fought in his first comeback fight.


-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 10:20 a.m. ET -- More e-mail

Sal Cano writes to me to say:

"Juan Manuel Marquez is the best fighter Floyd Mayweather will face and unless weight is a factor in the power department, it will show on Saturday. When you look up and down Floyd's list of opponent there is not one fighter that has the total package.

Oscar De La Hoya: Great jab, great hook. Lacked body attack skills and no aggressiveness
Ricky Hatton: Aggressive, good body attack … no defense, no jab
Diego Corrales: Never used his jab (this one still surprises me)
Arturo Gatti, Carlos Baldomir: All heart, no skill, good chins
Zab Judah: Fast (actually stunned Floyd) but doesn't throw enough and no heart
Jose Luis Castillo: Too slow, started off too slow
Marquez has a good jab, can attack the body, can take a punch, has heart to recover from a knockdown and he's fast enough. I don't think JMM wins but he has a shot, as good as anyone ever will."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 10:15 a.m. ET -- How Marquez feels he can win

Juan Manuel Marquez knows that Floyd Mayweather is likely to stand back and force Marquez to make the fight.

If that happens, Marquez says, "Then I will look for the fight -- with intelligence -- because I want to win, and I will be looking for the fight. With intelligence.

"Watching De la Hoya versus Mayweather, I need to use the jab. I can do it. I'm working with my jab. I move my body because he has long arms, and I need to land my punch to the body. I must throw combinations, many punches, one, two three, four. I need to throw punches. I need to throw to the body and then feint.

"This fight has changed my life, changed my career. [If I win it will be] wonderful. It would be wonderful. And I will try."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 10:05 a.m. ET -- What it means for Marquez

"This fight is very important for me, my country, my family," Juan Manuel Marquez told reporters on Tuesday.

"It's a wonderful thing. The Mexican people all the time support me. They go crazy for me. If I win this fight, the people will go crazy.

"This fight has changed my life, changed my career. [If I win it will be] wonderful. It would be wonderful. And I will try."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 10 a.m. ET -- Some thoughts from Marquez

Juan Manuel Marquez sat down with a few of us at the MGM Grand to talk about his upcoming fight with Floyd Mayweather. He has always been a classy guy with the media, but he also showed he can be a pretty funny one, too.

Marquez acknowledges that he is the underdog against Mayweather, but insists that the size difference is overstated.

"[Manny] Pacquiao came from super flyweight to welterweight. A lot of people thought [that's] crazy," he said.

"A lot of people think [I can't win] because of the weight or many things. But I have trained very hard on my strength and my muscles. I prepare myself very hard. I feel strong [with the extra weight]. I've been lifting stones in the mountains.

"I am 36 years old, but I feel very strong. I feel like I'm 25 years [old], because I'm training very hard."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 5:45 p.m. ET -- Fighters respectful at news conference

The final news conference has just finished. For some reason, Juan Manuel Marquez brought two fluffy chicks with him onto the dais.

As has become his wont, Roger Mayweather began speaking about his greatness as a trainer, even though it was someone else's turn to talk.

"Hey Roger, I'm confused," Oscar De La Hoya quipped. "I thought the best trainer in the world was Floyd Senior."

Leonard Ellerbe, chief executive officer of Mayweather Promotions, on Floyd Mayweather's return: "The King is back. Since he announced his return from retirement, there's been a tremendous buzz. It's been the biggest story in all of sports."

De La Hoya said he will be excited to see Marquez dethrone Mayweather. "I couldn't do it," he said. "I'll fight you both on the same night," Mayweather replied.

The classiest moment came when Juan Manuel Marquez's trainer, Nacho Beristain, praised Mayweather as a fighter and Floyd Senior and Roger as trainers. Showing equal class, Floyd stood up and shook Beristain's hand.

Both Marquez and Mayweather were respectful at the conclusion of the news conference.

Marquez: "I don't like talking outside the ring. I want to say three things: I prepare myself very hard physically and mentally. I want to thank all the Mexican people for supporting me. I want to dedicate this fight to all the Mexican people around the world."

Mayweather: "At this particular time, Marquez is one of the best fighters of my era. Hell of a fighter, boxer, counterpuncher. But I've been around the sport a long time; I adapt to a lot of different styles."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET -- Can Marquez do it?

Leonel Campos writes, "I am a big Juan Manuel Marquez fan but this is a tough fight for him. You have to admit that Marquez had trouble dealing with Juan 'Baby Bull' Diaz's speed in the early rounds. Can you imagine the problems that Mayweather's speed will give Marquez? If Mayweather pressures Marquez, will Marquez be able to counterpunch against his speed? He should be able to counter Mayweather but Mayweather does not usually come forward and attack in fights."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 2:40 p.m. ET -- More e-mail

Juan Guillen also reckons Floyd Mayweather might have bitten off more than he can chew:

"Mayweather waited for the perfect moment to come out of retirement with a safe fight. He's got another thing coming when the fighters step in the ring. Marquez is not a pushover and Floyd will face the toughest competitor yet. No matter the outcome, Marquez will bring the fight to Mayweather. Mayweather will be surprised when Marquez answers back with punches that will actually land unlike other opponents he's faced. It's going to be very interesting to watch."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 2:35 p.m. ET -- A vote for Marquez

Plenty of e-mails from readers about Saturday's Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez fight. Whereas most believe Mayweather will win the fight easily, there are plenty who are making a case for Marquez. Here's Steven Geller:

"Floyd is a naturally gifted ring genius with speed, reflexes and technical fluidity among the best in the business. Possibly because of his ring talent, he has never really had to dig deep down to take a win. I think this could downplay him against JMM. He may be the more experienced of the two with regard to big fights, but not so when it comes to gritty back-and-forth battles. I wonder how PBF responds in the later rounds when JMM starts to adapt and catch him with his hooks upstairs and to the body. While Mayweather has fast hands and reflexes, JMM has seen it all. I like JMM on a split decision win or possibly a late-round knockout."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. ET -- The elephant in the room

At one point, Floyd Mayweather was asked whether the disrespect he feels he receives relative to other fighters has a racial component. He paused for a while before stating calmly and matter-of-factly:

"If you're rich, you're a rich n-----. If you're poor, you're a poor n-----. If you're smart, you're a smart n-----. At the end of the day, they still look at me as a n-----."

A short while later, he spoke of how he feels his former ring rival Oscar De La Hoya is treated far more favorably:

"One thing you never hear. You never hear anything negative about Oscar De La Hoya. Anything he do negative, it gets swept under the rug. Larry Merchant don't know nothing about boxing. What's that other guy's name [at HBO]? [Emanuel Steward]. He's an Uncle Tom. One thing you can't knock. You cannot knock my talent. When it's all said and done, at the end of the day, no matter what you write, when we get into the ring, it's just me and him. One on one."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 2:25 p.m. ET -- There's only ooooone Mayweather

When I was in the U.K. on a family visit earlier this year, Floyd Mayweather came to England to publicize his fight with Juan Manuel Marquez -- at that point planned for July 18 -- and the London fans swarmed him. Mayweather mentioned that when talking to reporters Tuesday -- although of course he had to turn it into a negative.

"This country needs to be more positive," he said. "We're already at war. We're in a recession, we're at war and we continue to be negative. The fans in the U.K. showed me more love than in my own country. That's crazy.

"Sometimes I'll sit back, I'll be in my theater sometimes and I'll think, 'Imagine if I was the same fighter that I am and I was the same person that I am and I was from another country. Can you just imagine how big I'd be?' But I wouldn't change my life for nothing in the world. There's nothing like being young, black and rich. But there are certain things you think about. If Floyd Mayweather was white, I'd be the biggest athlete in America. The biggest, the biggest. I know that for a fact."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 2:20 p.m. ET -- And then I go and spoil it all

Even when relaxed and smiling in the company of relatively few journalists, Floyd Mayweather can't help but display the enormous chip on his shoulder. It seemed at times that every question asked of him, from "Are you concerned about Juan Manuel Marquez throwing combinations?" to "Do you feel cheated by not having had someone the caliber of Roberto Duran to test yourself against?" resulted in his complaining about a perceived lack of respect or an abundance of negative comments.

This isn't an act, by the way. Mayweather genuinely feels he is treated unfairly, that the media likes to focus on the negative and not the positive. But at times, it seems to consume him so much that he brings out the negative himself for no immediately obvious reason, even when the questioning is gentle and friendly. It's a shame, because the overwhelming feeling I came away with after sitting down with him was of an enjoyable, expansive chat, but after listening to him on tape and transcribing the interview, I realized how many times he turned innocuous questions into platforms to protest his treatment at the hands of the media.

It's a shame that such a phenomenally talented athlete seemingly can't simply lie back, relax and enjoy his own success without having to be so defensive. But then, as Michael Jordan's prickly speech at the Hall of Fame inductions last week showed, sometimes the very best need to be motivated by feelings of rejection and mistreatment in order to be so great.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 10:10 a.m. ET -- Amateur Floyd

David Mayo of Floyd Mayweather's hometown Grand Rapids Press asked Mayweather whether he remembered his first amateur competition:

"My first amateur boxing tournament. Sixty-four pounds. November 1987. Yeah, I can remember. I have the trophy on my dresser. What do I remember about that fight? I didn't care who he was; I just wanted to fight. After the fight, we stayed at a Red Roof Inn. I slept with my trophy. I held my trophy all the way home in the car. Same when I won the nationals. We're riding home in the van; I had a big old trophy. No other guys in the car had a trophy but me. I'm the youngest one on the team and I'm riding home with a big old trophy, so big it's almost touching the roof, and I'm holding it like this, asleep. And they're like, 'Floyd, you want to go in the store?' 'Nuh-uh. I don't want anybody bothering my trophy.'"
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 10 a.m. ET -- Why Floyd came back

Several of us had the opportunity to talk with Floyd Mayweather after his arrival at the MGM Grand on Tuesday. He sat on the apron of the same ring in which he will fight Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday and talked expansively for 30 minutes or so. As is often the case when facing smaller groups, he was, relatively speaking, "Quiet Floyd" and shared some stories, including when he knew he was going to return to the ring:

"I took my mother to the Bahamas. One day, I was at my house and I thought, 'I'm going to go to the Bahamas today.' I asked my mother what she's doing; she said, 'I ain't doing nothing.' I said, 'You don't get to do much, let's go to the Bahamas.'

"Then we went to the Bahamas, and she said, 'Everyone on the whole island keeps asking when you going to fight again. You gonna have one more fight?' I said, 'Mom, you want me to fight again?' She goes, 'Forty fights wouldn't be bad.' I said, 'That's a lot of fights, Mom.' [Mayweather has 39 professional fights to date.] We talked about it. On break, I traveled a lot, wasn't doing very much. I was going to the gym, playing basketball, partying a little.

"Then I went to the gym one day, and the first day I boxed eight rounds. So I was like, 'I'm thinking about coming back to the gym. What you think?' And they said, 'Floyd, if that's what you want to do, we're behind you 100 percent.' And then stories started coming out about my coming back. And I was like, 'Where are these stories coming from? I'm not coming back yet. I'm just working out.' But then I decided that, yeah, I was coming back."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 4 p.m. ET -- Marquez, Mayweather arrive

Pretty good turnout for Juan Manuel Marquez's arrival at the MGM Grand. I'm guessing maybe 750 or 800 loudly cheering people. Definitely a pro-Marquez crowd. Floyd Mayweather entered to relative quiet and a smattering of boos, although a lot more cheers erupted when he entered the ring in the MGM lobby. Then he got some fans to sing, "There's only one Mayweather."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 3:20 p.m. ET -- Oh no it isn't

But a lot of folks see Floyd Mayweather rolling Juan Manuel Marquez relatively easily.

"This is gonna be a boring 12-round lopsided decision for Mayweather unless Marquez's chin falls into Mayweather's left hook like [Ricky] Hatton's did," Arbi Asatourian wrote. "If you got to drink your own urine to make you believe your a better fighter, then your in trouble my friend."

Added Dr. Joseph Betancourt: "From the start I felt like this was a mismatch given Mayweather's size and speed … Mayweather looks amazing in camp … Marquez does as well, but he knows this is an uphill battle, while Mayweather looks to be in cruise control, rarely mentioning Marquez at all absent the urine incident."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 3:15 p.m. ET -- Oh yes it is

I've had several responses to my questioning whether Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez is a fair fight.

"I don't think it's as big of a transgression as many make it out to be," Dexter Stephen said. "Marquez is the current lightweight champion of the world and Mayweather was the former lightweight champion of the world; in other words, skills pay the bills for these guys and they both have a barrage of skills. Floyd may be bigger, but he's not THAT much bigger, although more natural at 147."

"I think you and a lot of other analysts are going to be surprised at how this fight plays out," wrote Brian from New York. "Mayweather has never faced anyone this smart or talented before … He has no idea what he's getting into. Marquez is going to make Floyd fight his fight, and I think this fight is going to frustrate Floyd a lot."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET -- That old familiar feeling

There really is no better place to cover a fight than Las Vegas. It's been a few months since my last fight here (when Manny Pacquiao beat Ricky Hatton in May), but it's all so comfortably familiar -- walk the same routes to the same places to see the same folks and catch up and exchange gossip. As always, everything at the MGM Grand is working perfectly and laid out just right. However the fight pans out, fight week will be a blast, as it always is here.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 1 p.m. ET -- In memoriam

It's been a tough couple of months in terms of losing people important to boxing, and it isn't getting any easier. Please, let's take a moment to remember the Punching Postman, former world title challenger Tony Thornton, who died this week at age 49. And also to Ireland's 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Darren Sutherland, who was found hanged on Monday in his London home at age 27. Our sympathies also to Frank Maloney, Sutherland's manager and the former manager of Lennox Lewis, who was taken to the hospital because of shock from finding Sutherland dead.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 10:15 a.m. ET -- What's on tap

Floyd Mayweather and Juan Manuel Marquez both make their official arrivals at the MGM Grand today. Marquez makes his arrival at 3:30 p.m. ET, and Mayweather at 4 ET. Afterward, both fighters will chat to media, and Marquez will treat us all to a round of urine.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 10:05 a.m. ET -- Who's feeling it?

I'm really happy to be back in Las Vegas, back at the MGM, back doing a Fight Credential. But I'll be honest: I'm not really feeling this one. The always stellar PR team is doing its best to generate excitement for this fight, but I'm not convinced that even Nacho Beristain thinks this is a fair fight. Well, I guess we'll find out soon enough. What do you guys think? Is this a real contest? How do you feel about it? Write to me at E-mail Mulvaney.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 9:55 a.m. ET -- Bright Lights City

It feels like it's been a very long time … and actually, it has been a few months. But the Fight Credential is back. Stay with us all week for the latest buzz from fight week at the MGM Grand during the buildup to Saturday's Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez clash. I've got the first-class upgrade for my flight west, so we're off to a good start already. Let's get ready to think about building up to rumbling.
-- Kieran Mulvaney