Saturday, March 25, 2023  |



Weigh-ins: Day-before vs. same-day


Brandon Rios and Anthony Peterson both made the 135-pound limit for their lightweight matchup on Sept. 11 in Las Vegas. On fight night, they weighed 151 and 139, respectively, meaning a junior middleweight fought a junior welterweight.

Rios overwhelmed Peterson and won by a seventh-round disqualification, which might’ve occurred even if the weights were reversed. We don’t know. However, we must ask the question: Did Rios have an unfair advantage over Peterson? If so, that leads us to a question that has been asked untold times over the years: Are day-before weigh-ins preferable to weighing in on the day of the fight?

The reality is that there is no easy answer.

Some are convinced the best option is the day-before weigh-in, ostensibly instituted in the 1980s to minimize dehydration by allowing fighters drained of liquids and other nutrients time to replenish. The problem is that the participants often fight at vastly different weights, as Rios-Peterson illustrates.

Others prefer same-day weigh-ins, which don’t allow as much time for replenishment but send two fighters of roughly equal weight into the ring.

“This is a question that has always been asked in boxing and will continue to be,” said Greg Sirb, executive director of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission.

Sirb and his counterpart in Nevada, Keith Kizer, don’t see eye to eye on the issue.

Pennsylvania uses same-day weigh-ins except in title fights, for which fighters are weighed both the day before and day of and are not allowed to gain more than 10 pounds from the first weigh-in to the second.

Sirb hasn’t seen a significant problem with dehydration in regard to the same-day weigh-ins. He said those who fight in Pennsylvania know what the rules are and adjust, which he believes all fighters would do if they had to.

He plans to propose to all boxing organizations that the following system be universally employed: a weigh-in seven days before the fight in which a fighter must be within a designated number of pounds of the contracted weight, the official weigh-in the day before the fight and a final weigh-in the day of the fight which limits the amount of weight a fighter may gain.

“A lot of them say they can’t make (weight) the day of,” Sirb said. “Then they have no alternative but to move up. They’ll change their mind set. I might think differently if we had the old eight weight divisions. Now, though, we have so many weight classes. It’s nothing to move up one division. That way the fighters can focus less on making weight and more on honing their skills.

“The gaining of so much weight is almost ridiculous. Why have weight limits if you don’t know what anybody is going to weigh for the fight.”

Dr. Margaret Goodman, former Medical Advisory Board Chairman and Chief Ringside Physician for the Nevada State Athletic Commission, leans toward same-day weigh-ins but acknowledges the complexity of the issue.

She said dehydration, in the cases it is a factor, probably wouldn’t raise the danger of brain damage unless it was acute but would affect reflexes and balance. She said “it would slow everything down,” which obviously would be a problem for a fighter about to engage in battle.

The principal issue in day-before weigh-ins, she said, is that fighters sometimes do whatever it takes to get down to weight — sometimes abusing the body by starving or by using diuretics — because they think they’ll gain a competitive edge by fighting below their natural weight.

That can either harm that fighter or give him an unfair advantage over an opponent who might be in his natural weight class, as stated earlier.

“It’s a very complicated issue,” Goodman said. “I think we should have uniformity instead of one state doing one thing and another state doing another. The best thing might be to do what they do in Pennsylvania, allowing fighters to gain only so much weight after the (day-before) weigh-in.

“At least that would be a huge start. At least then the fighters couldn’t put on so much weight and wouldn’t be dehydrated to begin with.”

Kizer would prefer to err on the side of caution, pointing out that no fool-proof means of determining whether a fighter is overly dehydrated exists.

Thus, if a fighter’s reflexes and balance are affected by dehydration, the last thing he should do is get into the ring.

And the fighters will have incentive to dehydrate themselves and/or use diuretics in certain circumstances. If a fighter can make $1 million against a star at 147 pounds or $100,000 fighting a journeyman at his natural weight of 154, for example, which do you think he would choose?

Kizer isn’t even convinced that fighters who add more weight than their opponents during the time between the weigh-in and fight have an advantage. He cited an informal study in the 1990s that demonstrated that the heavier fighter won only 50 percent of the time.

A concrete example: Orlando Salido was stripped of his featherweight belt before his fight against Yuriorkis Gamboa on the Rios-Peterson card because he gained more than 10 pounds between the weigh-in and the fight, which violated an IBF regulation.

“Rios won his fight handily,” Kizer said, “but Yuriorkis Gamboa weighed less than Orlando Salido and it didn’t put him at a disadvantage. Gamboa won the fight.”

Kizer also is uneasy about Sirb’s proposal.

He fears some fighters will take extreme measures to make weight each time they weigh in. For example, a fighter might dry out to make weight at the week-before weigh-in, gain several pounds back, and then dry out again for the official weigh-in the day before the fight.

That, Kizer suggested, could be more harmful than having to make weight one time.

“I just don’t know if reality would mirror (Sirb’s) theory,” he said. “That said, there’s a very good reason we have weight classes. We do want to have reasonable disparity of weights in our fights. We don’t want it to be great. We’re dealing with competitive advantages and health issues, too.

“It’s something in the front of our minds. We post information on our Web site about how to properly cut weight, how to rehydrate. We want fighters and trainers to make the right decisions.”

That could be the ultimate solution.

Trainer Freddie Roach can’t understand why fighters torture themselves to make weight in a lower division when they can fight more comfortably at their natural weight. His prize pupil, Manny Pacquiao, is an example of someone who fights slightly above his natural weight class. Weight is never an issue and the results are obvious.

The health issues and competitive advantages central to the timing of weigh-ins wouldn’t be nearly as pressing if fighters would just fight at their natural weights.

“That would be the solution,” Goodman said. “Trainers and fighters need to understand what the dangers are and do the smart thing. We need people like Freddie Roach to speak up about such things as this. People will listen to him.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]