Both fighters take risks in catchweight bouts
Kelly Pavlik's rematch with Jermain Taylor marks the return of catchweight bouts -- fights in which the boxers meet at an agreed weight. Graham Houston takes a look at some of the more prominent catchweight matches in boxing history.
Joe Gans D20 Joe Walcott -- San Francisco, Sept. 30, 1904Lightweight champion Joe Gans was the master boxer while welterweight champion Joe Walcott was an aggressive fighter whose nickname, The Barbados Demon, had been well-earned. The shorter, much heavier-set Walcott was required to make 138 pounds at an unusual ringside weigh-in and according to the San Francisco Bulletin "saved his forfeit money by a very slight fraction" although the actual weights were not reported. There were hints that the boxers might not go all out, but referee Jack Welch visited both men and reassuringly told the Bulletin: "I think the contest will be the best and squarest ever pulled off in San Francisco." Welch was not far wrong, with the Bulletin reporting: "It was a great fight. Gans was the clever ring mechanic. Walcott was the same old Barbadoes [sic] hurricane. He carried the fight to Gans from the start and didn't seem to mind the facers that would either have slowed up the average fighter or put him out of commission." When Welch signaled a draw the crowd booed, believing that Gans had won. Walcott, the Bulletin reported, was "tickled to death with the verdict and sprang forward and shook the referee's hand."
Jimmy McLarnin W10 Pancho Villa -- Emeryville, Calif., July 4, 1925Belfast-born, Canadian-raised Jimmy McLarnin was an up-and-coming featherweight prospect when he faced flyweight champion Pancho Villa in a catchweight bout. Filipino Villa had the experience, but the 18-year-old McLarnin had youth and physical advantages in his favor. McLarnin weighed 122 pounds to Villa's 114 according to the Vancouver Sun (although the online source BoxRec.com lists each man as one pound lighter). Boxing enthusiasts thought that Villa would win "not so much because of his punching ability or ruggedness but because of his experience," the Sun reported. But McLarnin clearly outscored Villa, with the Sun reporting: "The dark-haired, short-armed fighting demon from the Philippines, the boss of the flyweights, could not penetrate the McLarnin defense. Jimmy smiled through the 10 rounds, fought carefully and didn't let the champion gain an advantage."
|TV Lineup for Saturday's HBO PPV card (9 p.m. ET) from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas: • Junior lightweights: Juan Manuel Marquez (48-3-1, 35 KOs) vs. Manny Pacquiao (45-3-2, 34 KOs), rematch, 12 rounds, for Marquez's title/vacant Ring magazine title • Featherweights: Steven Luevano (34-1, 15 KOs) vs. Terdsak Jandaeng (29-2, 19 KOs), 12 rounds, for Luevano's title • Bantamweights: Abner Mares (15-0, 9 KOs) vs. Diosdado Gabi (30-3-1, 22 KOs), 12 rounds • Junior welterweights: David Diaz (33-1-1, 17 KOs) vs. Ramon Montano (15-4-2, 1 KO), 10 rounds -- Dan Rafael|
Henry Armstrong TKO end of 6 Lew Jenkins -- Polo Grounds, N.Y., July 17, 1940Welterweight champion Henry Armstrong was obliged to weigh in seven pounds under the division limit for his scheduled 12-rounder with lightweight champion Lew Jenkins. This was no problem for Armstrong, a featherweight champion who was small for a welterweight. Armstrong came in at 139 pounds, while Jenkins was just a half-pound over the lightweight limit of 135. The fight held intrigue because Jenkins, from Sweetwater, Texas, was known to be a terrific hitter. New York Times columnist John Kieran was one of many who felt that Jenkins's big punch gave him a chance. "If he can land that punch on a dodging target like Armstrong he may do well for himself," Kieran opined in a prefight story. Jenkins did indeed do damage. Joseph P. Dawson reported in The New York Times that Armstrong's left eye was swollen almost shut while his right eye "dripped a blinding flow of blood" after a desperation left hook opened an old cut. Armstrong was winning the fight, though. He took command from the fourth round and Jenkins was down seven times, unable to hold the stronger, superior fighter in Armstrong. Referee Arthur Donovan stopped the fight at the end of the sixth as Jenkins "writhed and groaned on his stool" in the words of reporter Dawson.
Emile Griffith TKO9 Dave Charnley -- London, Dec. 1, 1964Dave Charnley, a world-class British lightweight of the 1950s and early '60s, was a tough, compact southpaw who could punch hard at 135 pounds. But he was in far over his head when he fought the welterweight champion, Emile Griffith, in a 10-round non-title bout at Wembley indoor arena in northwest London. Griffith had just soundly beaten the Welsh southpaw Brian Curvis in a title fight in London. The Charnley fight was officially made at a weight of 148 pounds -- a pound over the welterweight limit -- but a private agreement between the parties stipulated that Griffith could not scale more than 145 pounds at the weigh-in on the day of the fight. Griffith looked big for the 147-pound division with his wide-shouldered physique, still making 145 pounds was not a problem for him. Griffith overpowered Charnley and the referee called a halt to the bout after the smaller man got up from a knockdown. As Britain's The Times newspaper gloomily reported: "Charnley was never in with much of a chance against the champion of the division above him." Charnley fought two other welterweights at a catchweight, losing a disputed decision against Brian Curvis, whom he knocked down, and stopping the European champion of the time, London's Peter Waterman, in the fifth round, although Waterman was coming to the end of his career.
Ray Leonard TKO9 Donny Lalonde -- Las Vegas, Nov. 7, 1988
Terry Norris TKO4 Meldrick Taylor-- Las Vegas, May 9, 1992Welterweight champion Meldrick Taylor faced a daunting task against Terry Norris, the champion at junior middleweight, but his camp negotiated a weight limit of 150-and-a-half pounds. This was three-and-a-half pounds inside the weight limit for Norris' division. The hope was that this would level the playing field.
Paulie Ayala W12 Johnny Tapia -- Las Vegas, Oct. 7, 2000
Bernard Hopkins KO9 Oscar De La Hoya -- Las Vegas, Sept. 18, 2004Middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins was so eager to make the biggest purse of his career against Oscar De La Hoya that he was willing to give a little in negotiations. Most significant, was his agreeing to the Golden Boy's stipulation that the match be made at a catchweight of 158 pounds, two pounds inside the middleweight limit. In the event, Hopkins came in at the surpassingly light weight of 156 pounds. If De La Hoya hoped that reducing weight would affect Hopkins's stamina, he got it wrong. As I reported from ringside for Boxing Monthly: "As he gained momentum, Hopkins actually appeared faster than De La Hoya, and coming out for the ninth, the Executioner from Philadelphia looked as if he could keep going strong for many more rounds than the mere four that remained." Hopkins was to box in another catchweights bout when, as light heavyweight champion, he agreed to meet leading middleweight Winky Wright at a weight of 170 pounds on July 7, 2007, at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Hopkins carried the weight far better than a soft-looking Wright and dominated the last four rounds to win a unanimous decision.
Jose Luis Castillo KO4 Diego Corrales -- Las Vegas, Oct. 8, 2005All of the boxing world eagerly awaited the lightweight championship rematch between Jose Luis Castillo and Diego Corrales after their sensational fight four months earlier, won by Corrales in the 10th round. Castillo, however, failed to make the 135-pound limit for the return fight. After weighing in three times, he was still three-and-a-half pounds overweight. He was fined $120,000 -- 10 percent of his purse -- by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The fighters' camps huddled to try to find a way to salvage the fight. Finally, it was agreed that Corrales would go through with the scheduled 12-rounder on the understanding that Castillo weighed no more than 147 pounds at a special, Nevada commission-supervised weigh-in at 3 p.m. on fight day.
Henry Maske W12 Virgil Hill -- Munich, March 31, 2007
Ricardo Mayorga W12 Fernando Vargas -- Los Angeles, Nov. 23, 2007Fernando Vargas wanted to leave boxing with a win after having been knocked out by Sugar Shane Mosley. He weighed 154 pounds for the Mosley fight but, as was his tendency, Vargas packed on the pounds when out of training. The fight with Ricardo Mayorga, a junior middleweight, was originally made at 162 pounds before the limit was upped to 164 pounds. Vargas looked muscled at the weigh-in, but he seemed bloated by the time he got into the ring and Mayorga won a majority decision.
Roy Jones Jr. W12 Felix Trinidad -- New York City, Jan. 19, 2008Although Roy Jones Jr. had been boxing as a light heavyweight, he agreed to meet middleweight Felix Trinidad at the middle-of-the-road weight of 170 pounds. Jones, weighing his lightest in six years, looked like the much bigger, stronger man as he dominated the last eight rounds, scoring two knockdowns on his way to a unanimous decision. Graham Houston is the American editor of Boxing Monthly and writes for FightWriter.com.
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MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
PAVLIK VS. TAYLOR II
vs. JERMAIN TAYLOR
Saturday, Feb. 16, Las Vegas
• Mulvaney: The lead-up to the big fight (Thursday)
• Mulvaney: The lead-up to the big fight (Wednesday)
• Rafael: Pavlik still an ordinary guy
• Rafael: Taylor hoping to get back on track
• Houston: There's always a catch
• Willis: Five things to look out for in the rematch
• Dettloff: Pavlik-Taylor II preview
• Raskin: Pavlik looking to shine
• Smith: Now or never for Navarro
• Houston: Memorable fights at catchweights
• Dan Rafael
• Bert Sugar
• Jermain Taylor 2/12
• Jermain Taylor 1/30
• Kelly Pavlik 2/13
• Kelly Pavlik 2/1
• A few words with Pavlik