Part 1: Close Up on Weigh In
Did the weigh in play a crucial role in the fight result? In the first part of our weigh in investigation, we take a concentrated look at the case of Robert “The Butcher” Berridge and the complications encountered at his recent weigh in against Thomas Oosthuizen for the IBO Light Heavyweight title.
With the dust slowly settling away from South Africa’s high altitude on what some may call a very interesting trip to Johannesburg, we take time to reflect on the experiences incurred by Team Butcher at the weigh in of “D-Day at the Palace”. Robert “The Butcher” Berridge lost this title fight to Thomas “Tommy Gun” Oosthuizen for the IBO Light Heavyweight Title via unanimous decision; however events leading up to the fight is something that may need to be considered. Oosthuizen did not make weight, not once but twice and as the title holder this caused a stir. In the first part of our investigation we asked, did the weigh in play an important part in the fight result? We take a closer look inside this case with Team Butcher.
Yes he trained in New Zealand, yes they travelled across the world for the fight but that is the life of an international class fighter. Robert Berridge was given an opportunity at short notice for a title shot overseas, this meant, he had to be fast tracked to be fight ready. This may be why it was a shock to Manager Vasco Kovacevic that Berridge’s opponent struggled with this; in fact, they couldn’t find him at the weigh-in. “Yes the weigh in was delayed by an hour and we were not given any explanation except THIS IS AFRICA. We found out it was due to Tommy not making weight, even the announcer tried to call the measurement 80.06 instead of the correct measurement 80.60” Kovacevic explains. “We waited for another 45 min for them to return and say that they were not making weight. Oosthuizen weighed in at a confirmed 80.60kgs while Kovacevic was recording the announcement as evidence. We asked Kovacevic as a coach having prepared his fighter and to go all that way in travel – what was the feel in camp? “I was very disappointed in his camp as they tried to make us sign a piece of paper to say that they made weight and also tried to intimidate me telling me that they will wipe the smirk off my face.”
Although this had occurred Team Butcher stayed positive and were still determined to battle for the belt, “we were there to do a job and as a team we did our best to shield Robert from any of this drama, we continued with our job.”
For Berridge half the battle may have been the psychological one of getting over a frustrating time at weigh in and what was to follow. The result of Oosthuizen not making weight had a domino effect on the fight card as a whole. The fight was moved from main event to undercard and Kovacevic claims this affected preparations, “It was very unprofessional about the weight issue and also about moving us along the card in the last min not to give us time to warm up.”
To add to a growing list of psychological stress, New Zealand’s broadcast was also affected by this change. VS Live was streaming the fight live to allow New Zealand viewers to watch and support Berridge compete for the title belt. As the time difference played a factor, the main card was originally set for 8am NZT prior to weigh in. We spoke with Managing Director of VS Live John McRae “We were provided with indicative times however we were disappointed with the scheduling changes at the last minute. All live events are subject to change, usually due injury, non-appearance, and technical issues however this one was out of the box.” He explained, “Viewers were notified via social media of the updated schedule when we were advised. On this occasion the scheduling was out of our hands as we were not the promoter or host broadcaster. Our viewers, Rob’s fans still got to see Rob fight albeit earlier and can still view the fight now on demand.”
The word ‘unprofessional’ does spring to one’s mind in a case like this. Weigh-ins generally can become very unpredictable with aggressive words being exchanged, stare downs, dirty looks from team to team, even with an occasional push and shove. But an outcome like this effects just about everyone involved in the fight including the broadcast, McRae noted “Our technology stack is the best available and also used by companies like IMG, Fox and Marvel. Ultimately we are reliant on the broadcast feed provided by the host broadcaster which is re-encoded and streamed online by our production team. Unfortunately we have no control in this instance over the commentary which was biased or the running order. We were extremely pleased with our delivery and Rob’s performance despite the shenanigans he faced.”
Robert Berridge had the only comfort of knowing he made weight, but it was a long walk up Struggle Street to the scales. His undefeated opponent however may have won the fight but was not allowed to keep his title belt (which is now vacant) and also lost 30% of his purse by failing to make weight – yet another effect on the event as a whole. You may have even seen words been exchanged inside the ring after the Unanimous decision was made by both parties.
Team Butcher knew full well this was a huge task, but are not one’s to back away from the chance of competing for a title fight, but as a result it was not to be. Kovacevic states “no excuses, we worked on our new plan for Tommy and we executed sections of it well and others could be worked on. We are looking forward to Roberts’s next fight to showcase our continued improvement.”
That ends part 1 of our investigation. The stress added to the blood, sweat and tears of making weight for weigh in and the title fight itself. Stay tuned to part 2 where we take the investigation further with more views, stories and quality insights.