Floyd Mayweather and Jesus Chavez held their weigh in at San Francisco's beautiful Nikko Hotel and Boxing Chronicle was there. Packed into an overcrowded, overheated room was a hoard of publicists, fighter entourages, HBO personnel, and tons of boxing celebrities. Everywhere we looked, we saw a recognizable face... and we talked to many of them. Unfortunately, a faulty tape ruined our interviews with Jose Suliaman, Too Sharp Johnson, Roger Mayweather, Michael Buffer, and Bones Adams. Luckily, a second tape was not eaten by the machine and caught some interesting observations from Jesus Chavez, Raul Marquez, Bob Arum, Harold Lederman, Larry Merchant and Freddie Roach.
Both Mayweather and Chavez scaled in at 129.5, and both looked fit. [Our exclusive pictures coming tomorrow.] Mayweather looked very dry, his cheeks hollowed and his skin stretched over every rippling muscle. He looked relieved to make weight on the first try, and was downing bottled water before Chavez got onto the scale. Chavez looked fit, too, although nowhere near as muscled as Mayweather.
We actually caught Jesus Chavez right as he stepped off the scale. He had been staring intensely, first at the scale, and then once he made weight, at Mayweather. His intensity followed him off the scale, and he was still "in the zone" when we caught him for two questions as he bounced past.
BoxingChronicle: Will Mayweather's hands be a factor in this fight?
Jesus Chavez: No.
BC: Are you looking for the knockout, or will this fight go 12?
JC: I'm just gonna do my job.
Okay, not exactly revealing answers... but Chavez looked focused. Later in the day, he loosened up and could be seen smiling and joking around with television reporters. After Chavez floated down to a no-press rules meeting, we saw Raul Marquez quietly leaning on a lighting tower by himself.
Boxing Chronicle: How's the comeback coming?
Raul Marquez: I've had three fights this year. Nothing on TV, just local fights in Texas.
BC: Are you still at 154?
RM: I'm fighting at 160.
BC: How does that feel for you?
RM: Good. I feel a lot stronger. It's something I should have done a long time ago. Y'know, a lot of the guys I beat at the Olympic trials, like Robert Allen, Antwun Echols, Lonnie Bradley, they're all middleweights. So far, I feel real strong at middleweight.
BC: Who'd you like to fight most?
RM: My manager's working on different things. We're trying to get a fight that could maneuver me into maybe fighting for the world title. I know Bernard Hopkins is the world champion right now. If I would get an opportunity to fight him down the line, I would love to fight him. I know everything would be against me, but that would be better. I wouldn't have all that pressure on me, and things happen in boxing. Anything can happen.
BC: If you were offered a good fight at 154, could you make the weight?
RM: [Emphatically] No! When I fought Fernando Vargas, it was killing me to make 154. I made it because it was an opportunity, the money and all that, but I was drained when I fought Vargas at 154. I'm not making any excuses, the guy beat me fair and square, but I should have been campaigning at 160 a long time ago. In the meantime, I do color commentary for HBO Latino, I'll be doing this fight for them tomorrow night. I'm just doing all of that and hoping something good will happen next year.
Not long after we spoke with Marquez, we overheard the distinctive voice of Harold Lederman, who was holding court with promoter Murad Muhammed and cutman Joe Souza. Lederman speaks twice as fast as he does on the air, rarely pausing to take a breath. He's probably the most enthusiastic boxing fan we've ever eavesdropped on. At one point, the subject turned to Manny Pacquiao, and a Lederman comment forced us to turn around and join the conversation.
BoxingChronicle: Did you just say that Pacquiao could beat Morales or Barrera at 126?
Harold Lederman: Let me tell you something, he has the ability to beat anybody. I haven't seen talent like that in a long time. The performance against Ledwaba was sensational. Remember, Ledwaba was considered nearly unbeatable and this kid really beat him up good. He has all the ability to be a superstar. He's got all the tools, southpaw, punches with two good hands, tremendous right ear punches, he's very very quick, good defense, takes a good shot, knows how to fight, knows how to close the show, knows how to finish. He's got all the tools.
BC: Do you think that he'll take out Sanchez quick?
HL: In truth, as much as I love Agapito, as much as I'm happy that he's making a great payday, I honestly believe that it'll probably end inside of five rounds. This kid is just too quick and hits too hard.
BC: Does Mayweather have his hands full with brittle hands and perhaps a little trouble making 130?
HL: I'll tell you something, in my estimation the brittle hands is the key. If he hurts his hands early, he's gonna have problems. If he doesn't hurt his hands early, then he isn't going to have any problems. Jesus Chavez has that kind of style that should be very easy for Floyd, so if his hands are right, Mayweather should beat him rather easily. I think Floyd's had tougher opponents, like Chiquanito Hernandez because of his height and Diego Corrales because of his punching power. But on the other hand, if he does hurt his hands like he did in the Carlos Hernandez fight, there could be problems because Jesus Chavez is a good fighter.
A few minutes later, we passed Larry Merchant in the hall, and we asked him about his colleague's praise of Pacquiao.
BoxingChronicle: Harold Lederman just told us that Pacquiao could beat Morales and Barrera at 126. What do you think of that?
Larry Merchant: I think that by the time he gets to fight one of them, it might be true.
BC: Do you think Mayweather has his hands full with Chavez, or is he just too fast?
LM: Well, he's probably too fast for anybody he fights, but Chavez is a very worthy challenger.
BC: What fight are you looking most forward to?
LM: I'm anxious to see anything that Vladimir Klitschko is in, because I think that he's the best heavyweight in the world. Mosley and Forrest in January. Morales and Barrera in the rematch, and I'm looking forward to the heavyweight fight next week.
Bob Arum never slows down. Every time we looked up, there was Bob pressing the flesh or doing an interview. He was everywhere, including in front of our tape recorder for a brief break between television spots.
BoxingChronicle: What's the word on Barrera-Morales II?
Bob Arum: Funny you should ask. The announcement will be Tuesday. The advisory went out today. It'll be at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.
BC: What happened to Winky Wright vs. Shane Mosley?
BA: You gotta ask Winky. They decided that the compensation wasn't adequate and they wouldn't take the fight. I was Winky's promoter. I disagreed and they bought me out of the contract.
BC: So you have no future interests in Winky Wright?
BA: Well, I like him as a fighter and I like him as a person, but I have no promotional interests with him, no.
BC: Does Oscar De la Hoya have a future at the top of this sport?
BA: I think he does. He's gotta get his act together. And he has to start making some really good boxing decisions, which he hasn't done in the past year.
The last boxing celeb we spoke with was trainer Freddie Roach. Roach was completely ignored as the Filipino press contingent (no small gang in multi-lingual San Francisco) swarmed all over his fighter. Sneaking around the pack, we got in a few questions with the extremely soft-spoken Roach.
BoxingChronicle: What do you look for against Sanchez, power or going the distance?
Freddie Roach: Sanchez has been in there with everybody, and it's going to be a big notch on Manny's belt when he knocks him out. I think Manny's power will get to him.
BC: Lederman and Merchant think Pacquiao will beat Morales or Barrera at 126. Do you?
FR: I do too. We'll be moving up in weight class soon.
BC: Is it tough for him to make 122?
FR: We were two pounds under the weight, so no. It's not easy for him, but he makes it when he keeps in training.
BC: What do you think he'll weigh tomorrow night?
FR: About 126, 127. Tonight we'll do carbs and proteins and tomorrow will be strictly carbs.
BC: What about James Toney, will he ever make 190 again?
FR: [grins] I haven't seen James in two months, so I don't know.
BC: Are you still working with him?
FR: I think. Again, I haven't seen him in two months, so I have no idea.
BC: Are you interested in working with him again?
FR: Me and James are good friends and he's a hell of a fighter when he wants to train. I'd be interested in working with him again if he wants to discipline himself and make 190. I think he needs some discipline to make that weight. He's talking about fighting at heavyweight, and I don't think he's big enough to fight at that weight.