By Jake Donovan
Two originally scheduled bouts never made it to the scales, but those who made the final cut for Saturday’s show at Madison Square Garden all managed to escape unscathed from Friday’s weigh-in.
Mexico’s Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and England’s Rocky Fielding both easily made weight for their super middleweight showdown Saturday evening at MSG, which will be carried live by sports streaming application DAZN.
Alvarez’s 5’8” frame packed a rock-solid167.4 pounds for just his second career bout above middleweight, where he still reigns as the true World (lineal) champion. His motivation for moving up the scales on Saturday is in attempting to snatch a secondary super middleweight title from the clutches of the 6’1” Fielding, who checked in at 167.6 pounds.
Photo Credit: DAZN Boxing Twitter Account
For Alvarez (50-1-2, 34KOs), the night represents a series of firsts. The 28-year old from Guadalajara, Mexico makes his MSG debut, in fact having only fought once before on the East Coast, coming in Dec. 2008 on a Telemundo-televised show in Miami, Florida.
The night also serves as his first on a DAZN-streamed show, earning $15 million for Saturday’s show before venturing into a record-breaking $350 million contract with the streaming service spanning 10 fights. With a win on Saturday, he will also become the first-ever boxer from Mexico above 140 pounds to win titles in three weight classes—although the legitimacy of belt at stake is rightfully called into question.
Regardless, it’s the latest step in the career of the most bankable active boxer in North America—and possibly the world. Regardless, he joins his only other competitor on that list—England’s unbeaten, unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua—in aligning himself with DAZN, the move coming after having 10 of his past 11 bouts headline on Pay-Per-View.
For Fielding (27-1, 15KOs), the adventure marks his first career fight in the United States and outside of Europe in general. The 31-year old from Liverpool hit the road for the first time in his career in his last fight, scoring an upset 5th round knockout of Tyron Zeuge to win his portion of the super middleweight title this past July in Offerburg, Germany.
The win was Fielding’s 6th straight after suffering the lone loss of his career in Nov. ’15, a 1st round knockout at the hands of Callum Smith, who holds the “super” version of the super middleweight title to Fielding’s “regular” version.
Even on the heels of his current hot streak, the visiting Brit still comes in as an 8-1 betting underdog (Alvarez is a 16-1 favorite).
The originally scheduled co-feature would’ve likely produced Alvarez’ next opponent for his planned May 4th headliner at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Alas, the hunt remains after David Lemieux—the rumored leading candidate—was scratched from the show due to being hospitalized to treat dehydration.
News came less than 30 minutes before the start of the weigh-in, thus cancelling his planned 12-round title eliminator versus Tureano Johnson, who is now owed a fight and payday by Golden Boy Promotions, who promotes all three middleweights.
Elevated to the chief support is resurgent Tevin Farmer, who attempts the second defense of his super middleweight title Francisco Fonseca. Both fighters made weight, although Philadelphia’s Farmer had to strip down to his birthday suit in order to hit the 130-pound mark. Costa Rica’s Fonseca—whose lone other title bid resulted in an 8th round knockout loss to an overweight Gervonta Davis for his only career defeat—came in at 129.4 pounds.
A lightweight title bout dripping with historical implication pits unbeaten defending titlist Katie Taylor versus Finland’s unbeaten 130-pound beltholder Eva Wahlstrom, who moves up in weight.
Taylor checked in at a fighting fit 134.2 pounds as she becomes the first-ever boxer from Ireland to defend a major title at Madison Square Garden. It’s also the first time fighting in the venue for the 32-year old, a two-time Olympian who captured a Gold medal for Ireland in the 2012 London Olympics, whose games were the first to feature women’s boxing.
The Garden party marks a quick turnaround for Taylor, who is coming off of a 10-round shutout of a disinterested Cindy Serrano this past October in Boston, which also streamed live on DAZN.
On the challenger side, Wahlstrom (22-0-1, 4KOs)—who weighed 133.5 pounds—comes in as the only boxer from Finland to capture a major title in the pro ranks. The now-38 year old managed that feat in April ’15, picking up a vacant super featherweight strap which she has defended four times including a points win over Melissa St. Vil in April.
Saturday’s show was also due to feature unbeaten super lightweight prospect Vergil Ortiz (11-0, 11KOs). However, the knockout artist from Texas was denied a license by the New York State Athletic Commission due to having Lasik eye surgery performed this past October, a procedure which serves as medical disqualification in the commission’s view.
The development killed plans for his New York and MSG debut, which was due to come versus Mexico’s Omar Tienda.