LAS VEGAS — There was an electric atmosphere as Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez stepped on the scale to weigh in at the MGM Grand Garden on Friday afternoon.
They were a little more than 24 hours away from their unified middleweight world championship fight, which will take place Saturday (8 p.m. ET) at the T-Mobile Arena, but the atmosphere felt almost like fight night as both were right on the division limit of 160 pounds and then posed nose to nose.
Alvarez, with a claim to the lineal title, made 160 pounds for the first time in his career after fighting past middleweight bouts at 155 pounds and his May nontitle fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at a contract weight of 164.5 pounds.
“We are only a day away,” Alvarez said through a translator. “I’ll show him who Canelo really is. I’m gonna give my fans 100 percent like I always do. I will give them a great fight.”
Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs), 27, of Mexico, had an impressive physique and looked like the bigger man compared with Golovkin, who owns three of the major sanctioning body belts and will be making his 19th title defense, one shy of the all-time division record of 20 held by Bernard Hopkins.
“We’re gonna see a war,” Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya told the capacity crowd of 9,461 at the arena, which could not be fully opened because of the setup going on for a concert later Friday to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. “They’re going to fight with everything. I guarantee you’re going to see 10 rounds of hell. I’m excited. This is history, history in the making.”
When asked to respond to Alvarez’s earlier taunts that he, not Golovkin, is the true middleweight champion, Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs), 35, a Kazakhstan native and boxing’s longest-reigning world titleholder and a career-long middleweight, said, “See you tomorrow, Canelo. The middleweight division has a special history, a special place in boxing. You have to be ready, prepared when you fight in this division. It is hard to stay in the middleweight division. Canelo knows that very well. He left the title in less than seven months.”
Said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer, “Just look at Bernard Hopkins and Oscar De La Hoya — they know how difficult it is to be middleweight champion. Oscar lost the title in his first defense [to Hopkins by knockout], while Bernard holds the division record for consecutive title defenses, 20, but not for long. It took Bernard 10 years to break Carlos Monzon’s record. Gennady will be one fight away after he wins on Saturday night. And Gennady will have done it in just seven years.
“It was so important for Team Canelo to walk into the ring last and be introduced last. All we care about is walking out of the ring last. It’s a good thing Canelo has been using a cryotherapy chamber in his training. It’s good preparation, since Gennady is going to ice him on Saturday night.”
Featherweight Joseph Diaz (24-0, 13 KOs) weighed the division limit of 126 pounds for his world title elimination fight against Rafael Rivera (25-0-2, 16 KOs) in the co-feature. Rivera initially scaled 127 pounds but quickly returned to make 126 pounds. The winner of the bout will become the mandatory challenger for world titleholder Gary Russell Jr.
Junior featherweight Diego De La Hoya (19-0, 9 KOs), a first cousin of Oscar De La Hoya’s, weighed the division limit of 122 pounds, and former bantamweight world titleholder Randy Caballero (24-0, 14 KOs) was 121 pounds for their scheduled 10-round fight. Lightweight Ryan Martin (19-0, 11 KOs) was right on the division limit of 135 pounds, and opponent Francisco Rojo (20-2, 13 KOs) weighed 134.5 for their 10-round bout that will open the pay-per-view telecast.
Also Friday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission, released the purses for the card. Alvarez’s base purse is $5 million, and Golovkin’s is $3 million, but both will earn well into the eight figures based on their guarantees from their promoters. They will also earn even more on top of their guarantees because they will both reap a percentage of the profits from the event.
Diaz’s purse is $200,000, and Rivera’s is $15,000. De La Hoya will earn $80,000, and Caballero $50,000. Martin will make $50,000, and Rojo $25,000.