Much has been written, said and debated about a big problem in the sport of boxing: The dreaded day before the fight weigh-ins. The critics argue this is just the sort of thing that is wrong with boxing because it gives fighters a chance to re-hydrate to an unnatural and some say unsafe weight for a fight that takes place more than a day-and-a-half after a fighter steps on the scales.
There are many problems with this set-up, one of them being the fact that it’s never been proven that putting on a bunch of weight after an official weigh-in actually helps. So, fighters may want to take heed when it comes to sweating themselves down to an unnatural weight, then gorging themselves on food and water before they fight and think about this: The best fighters in the world fight at their natural weights.
Yes, that’s a fact. Floyd Mayweather Jr, Andre Ward, Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez and Bernard Hopkins all fight at weights that agree with their bodies. None of the aforementioned guys sweat down to a weight they can only meet for 30 seconds twice a year. In fact, all of the above mentioned fellows sometimes have to eat more food during training in order to keep their weight up.
It doesn’t take a nutritionist to figure out that gaining upwards of 10-25 pounds in one day is not healthy and a hindrance to athletic performance. To squeeze moisture from the human body (which is approximately 60% water) is an interesting trick that will help a fighter meet a specific weight but when that weight is gained back it sometimes leaves the fighter bloated and lethargic.
When one looks at the current weights of Mayweather, Ward, Pacquiao, Marquez and even 49-year-old Bernard Hopkins one will see they rarely fluctuate. In fact, Mayweather weighs on fight night at pretty much where he weighed in the day before. More importantly, in between fights these fighters, all considered among the top pound-for-pound in the world, walk around at little more and even sometimes a little less than where they need to be on weigh-in day. While the fighters from above have fought in many different weight divisions the weight they have gained has been gradual over a long period of time.
None of this should be a revelation. There’s a reason why Marvin Hagler fought his entire career as a 160-pound middleweight. It’s the same reason Micky Ward lasted so long and waged his career at 140-pounds: It’s the weight where they belonged and where their bodies were meant to be. Same goes for fighters such as Carl Froch and Zab Judah.
The poster children for the other side of the coin are guys like Jake LaMotta, Roberto Duran, Arturo Gatti, Erik Morales, Jose Luis Castillo, Fernando Vargas and Diego Corrales. All of them share the common denominator in that they all gained loads of weight in between bouts and it affected their athletic performance to the extent that it caused them to lose fights and have inconsistent performances. All of them waged as many legendary battles with the sauna as they did opponents.
While some weight problems and weight gain with fighters is the result of poor eating habits others are because they don’t conduct themselves in a professional manner. Many, however, struggle with the scales because they are fighting in the wrong weight division. Many fighters are ill-advised by promoters, managers and even trainers that they can make a certain weight when it may be next to impossible from a physiologic standpoint.
The evidence seems clear that if a boxer fights where his body tells him he should, he will be healthier, he will not struggle in making weight and ultimately he will be much more successful in the long-run.