John Duddy, d/b/a
Ireland's John Duddy, chugged into the ring in Madison Square Garden on St.
Patrick's Eve, weighing 168 pounds. Yet he fought--and won--as a middleweight,
a division that maxes out at 160 pounds. More boxing subterfuge? Yes and no.
Duddy wasn't doing anything illegal; he was simply bobbing and weaving his way
through a glaring loophole, engaging in the increasingly popular practice of
ballooning during the 30 or so hours between weigh-in and fight. "I would
say it's a dirty little secret," says Greg Sirb, executive director of the
Pennsylvania commission, "except everyone does it."
scheduled the day before the fight so the principals have time to rehydrate.
That's the rationale. But fighters use the interval to add 10, 15, sometimes 20
pounds--mostly water--to their bodies, rendering weight limits irrelevant. Last
month former fighter Joey Gamache filed suit against Arturo Gatti, who savaged
Gamache in their 2000 bout. Gamache claims that when Gatti went from 141 pounds
to 160 pounds between the weigh-in and the fight, he had effectively breached
This practice of
adding weight obviously imperils the undersized opponent--Gamache, who says he
weighed 145 pounds when he fought Gatti, still suffers migraines from that
beating. But it's also dangerous to heavier fighters, who sometimes take enemas
and diuretics to make weight and then undergo IVs and even blood transfusions
to bulk back up. "Aside from being generally sluggish, you lose reaction
time, balance and reflexes when you put on weight so fast," says Dr.
Margaret Goodman, chairman of the medical advisory board of the Nevada boxing
Proposals to move
the weigh-in to the day of the fight have been met with opposition, largely
from promoters who enjoy the added hype of the weigh-in day. Calls to reduce
the number of weight classes--thus blunting the incentive to bulk up--are
anathema to sanctioning bodies seeking to hold as many championship fights as
possible. An obvious compromise: Emulate Pennsylvania and hold a second
weigh-in, the morning of the fight, permitting gains of no more than, say,
eight pounds. (The abuse of the current weigh-in system is high on the docket
at the Association of Boxing Commissions' July convention.)
The irony is that
the benefits from inflating like Sherman Klump often don't outweigh the costs.
According to Goodman, the Nevada commission recently conducted a study,
cross-referencing fighters' weigh-in weight with their fighting weight. More
often than not, the boxer who added less weight was more successful.