LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao will bring a slight weight advantage into Saturday’s welterweight fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, the fourth in a classic series between surefire Hall of Famers that’s spanned eight years.
But if the crowd split at Friday’s weigh-in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena was any indicator, Marquez will enjoy a marked edge in fan support. Approximately 4,000 fans, mostly Marquez supporters, made themselves heard throughout the afternoon — waving Mexican flags, doffing sombreros, drowning out the Pacquiao fans with still another cascade of “Olé, Olé, Olé” chants.
Yet there were no theatrics after the fighters hit the scales — Marquez weighed in at a chiseled 143 pounds, Pacquiao matched a career-high at 147 — only the traditional staredown between two longtime rivals who prefer to do their talking in the ring.
“We know each other really well and it’s going to be a war,” Marquez, 39, said afterward.
It marks the second straight fight Pacquiao has weighed 147 pounds, the division limit. Before his June bout with Timothy Bradley — a highly controversial loss that cost him the WBO welterweight championship and rendered Saturday’s bout with Marquez a non-title fight — the 33-year-old Filipino had always come in comfortably under the limits for fights at welterweight or above.
Even when he fought Antonio Margarito for the super welterweight title at a contracted limit of 150 pounds, Pacquiao weighed in at 144.6. As trainer Freddie Roach explained it, preserving Pacquiao’s speed took precedent over a few extra pounds of muscle.
Pacquiao, a sitting congressman in the Philippines who is running for vice-governor of Sarangani province in May, voiced his concerns about the effects of Typhoon Bopha, the strengthening storm that’s already responsible for at least 500 deaths in his homeland.
“This fight is dedicated to those fans,” the eight-division champion said.
The weigh-in came hours after Top Rank CEO Bob Arum announced the fight was an official sellout, generating a live gate of $10.5 million.
– Bryan Armen Graham