By Jackie Kallen
Don’t tell me that boxing is dead. I don’t believe it. Especially after seeing the thousands of people crammed into the MGM Gardens for the Mayweather/Cotto weigh-in (Mayweather 151, Cotto 154). It was a larger crowd than you’ll see at most club shows around the country. The weigh-in itself was a spectacle and a happening.
Mixed in with the crowd were a lot of boxing greats. Thomas Hearns was shoulder to shoulder with Sugar Ray Leonard. They both looked in-shape and as though they could go another round together TODAY. It is always great to see the two of them in the same room. People still talk about their controversial second fight and they are gracious to every fan who approaches them.
Bernard Hopkins was there, as well as Danny Jacobs, new welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi, Seth Mitchell, Oscar de la Hoya, Leon Spinks, Devon Alexander, Adrian Broner and many others. The crowd went crazy for some, were aloof towards others, and booed B Hop and Oscar. Especially Hopkins. You would have thought George Zimmerman walked out.
It was apparent that this crowd was there for two reasons: Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto.
When Shane Mosley stepped on the scale, there were snickers of derision as he missed the mark by a half pound and had to go lose it. They cheered heartily and went bananas before Canelo even put a toe on the scale. He owned the room. They waved flags, chanted, and hollered out his name. To this crowd he is a rock star. Looking ripped and confident, the redhead posed and preened, obviously loving every second of it.
Mosley was a lot more sheepish. I actually felt a bit sorry for him as he left the stage. He seemed old and unenthused. He has been around this block a few times and there are no new thrills for him anymore. He seemed to be going through the motions. When asked if he really thought he could beat Alvarez, he said, “You don’t have to believe I can do it. As long as I believe it, that’s all that matters.”
The main event weigh-in was thrilling. After all these years and countless weigh-ins, this one brought me goosebumps. When Money came out, the room erupted. Some pro, some con. He walked back and forth like a peacock, pointing to people in the crowd and smirking from ear to ear.
When Cotto came out, though, the roof almost came down. His many supporters were vocal and loud. He seemed relaxed and not a bit intimidated. He also had a look of “all-business” on his face. His team also seemed calm. Although he is the underdog, the mood was as if it was an even fight.
When they faced off for the usual pre-fight pose, it got tense. It generally does between two boxers at this level. But today it seemed even more intense. With their handlers nearby to avoid any physical entanglements, you could feel the heat and energy between them. The crowd ate it up.
It was like old times at the MGM after the weigh-in, with fans mobbing the merchandise tables and flashing their betting slips. Everyone was upbeat and excited. The working girls were strutting their stuff and the hustlers were scalping tickets. You would have thought it was the 1980s at Caesar’s Palace for the Hearns-Hagler fight.
Damn I miss those days!
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen