It was a festive atmosphere as pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko and Jose Pedraza both weighed in on Friday afternoon for their lightweight world title unification fight at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) — with his fans chanting “Loma! Loma!” — was inside the 135-pound limit at 134.4 pounds and Pedraza (25-1, 12 KOs), with many Puerto Rican fans there to cheer for him, was 134.2 pounds.
Each man will be making the first title defense of his belt and looking to add another to his collection when they meet in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN tripleheader on Saturday (9 p.m. ET with full undercard streaming on ESPN+ beginning at 6 p.m. ET) at the Hulu Theater.
There were no scuffles or harsh words, but Lomachenko, 30, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, made it clear what he thinks will happen.
“That’s my belt,” he said, pointing to the strap Pedraza won from Raymundo Beltran on Aug. 25.
Although Lomachenko has won world titles in three weight classes he has very much wanted the opportunity for a unification fight, which he now has.
Pedraza is a heavy underdog but believes in himself.
“I have the size advantage and the boxing skills to give Lomachenko trouble, and I will use all of that in the ring on Saturday night,” he said through an interpreter. “It’s a great fight, no doubt about that, especially when you’re going up against the man many consider the best pound for pound.
“So imagine winning this fight? That would put me among the greats in Puerto Rican history, and that’s exactly where I want to be.”
Junior featherweight world titlist Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe (20-0, 14 KOs), 24, of Ghana, and mandatory challenger Emanuel Navarrete both made weight. Dogboe, who will be making his second defense, was 120.8 pounds, well under the 122-pound limit. Navarrete (25-1, 22 KOs), 23, 23, of Mexico, made 122 on the nose by weighing in nude behind a towel.
The opener will feature a 10-round bout between red-hot lightweight prospect and 2016 Olympian Teofimo Lopez Jr. (10-0, 8 KOs), 21, of Las Vegas, and Mason Menard (34-3, 24 KOs), 30, of Rayne, Louisiana. They both weighed 135 pounds for their regional title bout.
Lomachenko’s official purse is $1 million, although he will actually make about $2 million, and Pedraza, whose official purse is $350,000, will make closer to $1 million. Dogboe’s official purse is $100,000 but he will make $250,000 plus revenue from African television rights. Navarrete’s purse is $50,000, and Lopez and Menard are earning $20,000 apiece.