By: Marc Livitz: On May 5 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, WBA light middleweight champion Miguel Cotto will face the toughest test of his stellar career when he meets Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in the ring. The fighter from Caguas, Puerto Rico took part in a brief international media conference call earlier this afternoon to discuss the upcoming bout, which is being promoted as “Ring Kings” by Golden Boy Promotions, Mayweather Promotions and Cotto Promotions, respectively. As usual, Cotto was his at his soft-spoken and cordial best. Much emphasis has often put on Cotto’s two career losses. The most notable is without a doubt his TKO defeat at the hands (or allegedly loaded gloves) of Antonio Margarito in July 2007. Miguel took time off to reflect and returned to action in 2009. He had two straight victories (against Michael Jennings and Joshua Clottey, respectively) until he was once again beaten. In November of that year, Cotto was thoroughly outworked by Manny Pacquiao in a contest which was fought at a catchweight of 145 pounds. Miguel now feels that he is at his best possible weight and more than ready for the challenge he most certainly faces from the fighter who sits alone atop the mythical perch of supremacy on the lists of many boxing writers from around the world.
Golden Boy Promotions founder and former pound for pound great Oscar de la Hoya began the call by thanking the media for joining. His newfound life as a promoter rather than boxer seems to suit him quite well.
“Hello, everyone. The fight is quickly approaching and we’re getting down to the wire. Everyone is excited. Writers are getting their stories in and now it’s just two and a half weeks to the fight. This (bout) will be for the WBA 154 pound title. It will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on HBO Pay-Per-View and will also be available in over 440 movie theaters nationwide.”
Cotto (37(30)-2) then took to the phone and opened the call to questions after his own opening statement. “Hi everyone, I’m happy to be here. Thanks for joining us today. I am ready for May 5.”, said the champion.
Among the questions asked of him was how he felt fighting at 154 pounds and free of catch weights, whether or not he had truly pursued a rematch with Manny Pacquiao and how he felt about finally getting a shot at Floyd Mayweather, Jr. after several years of wanting and waiting from boxing fans and journalists.
“He’s fighting at my weight and he had to do that to fight me. It’s my division and I’m most comfortable here. Yes, we did try to reach out to Pacquiao, but we had had more than one reason to go for Mayweather instead of Pacquiao. The negotiations were easier this way and now we have a fight in two weeks.”
“Everything happens for a reason. It didn’t happen 5-6 years ago, but it’s happening now. I had to get past the issues with (Antonio) Margarito. This is the right time. I feel much better right now.”
Miguel Cotto went through his fair share of rough times after his loss to Pacquiao. His father and closest friend, Miguel Cotto, Sr. died unexpectedly in early January 2010. Since then, the Puerto Rican great has been able to pick himself up and carry on. He gives much credit to his family for helping him see his way through such a difficult period.
“My father never stopped working for me. He always wanted me to get better. He’s still by my side even after these few years since he passed away. I have a great family and people around me. It’s not how you fall. It’s how you stand up and keep working hard. I’m not going to stop.”
Cotto also stressed that he has found his long sought feeling of inner peace. Said Miguel, “When you find peace from those around you, the atmosphere is great. It helps me work harder and keeps me comfortable.”
Much attention has been given not only to Cotto’s newfound success within the ring, but also towards his notable trainer, Pedro Diaz, who is a Cuban defector. Diaz worked primarily with amateurs on the small island nation. The two seemed to find the perfect level of communication and understanding as boxer and trainer. Gone, at least for now is the quarreling and ever clashing of ideals frequently reported between Cotto and his previous trainer, his Uncle Evangelista.
“He (Diaz) came from Cuba and we tried to talk to him a few years ago after we left Evangelista. He talked to us just a bit at first because he didn’t feel he was ready for professional boxing. He has so much knowledge of the sport. He told me that he wasn’t here to give me new things. He told me his main purpose was to make me feel like the Miguel of old. That’s what you’ll see on May 5.”
Cotto’s confidence level is clearly brimming. He acknowledged the respect he has for Mayweather (42(26)-0), although he feels that the American fighter’s undefeated record is due for a change. Miguel spoke of this and how getting his revenge against Antonio Margarito this past December has brought a bit of closure to the feelings he experienced after his first professional loss.
“No one is invincible. I know that because I passed through that point in my life. Floyd works hard, but on the fifth he will have another hard worker in front of him and I know what I have to do to win. Mayweather is a defensive fighter and a counter puncher. I’ll have a very different strategy this time (from Margarito). I’ll follow Pedro’s instructions. We trust each other as trainer and fighter.”
Miguel Cotto sought to let everyone know that he is fighting fit and ready for the task of which over forty different boxers have undertaken yet fallen short. “I’ll beat him on May 5. Then I will rest a few weeks and I’ll discuss boxing with my team again. I’ll be victorious. My preparations will get me a victory, whether by knockout or decision. There will be no confusion. I’ll put forward my best effort. I’ve been working since early February.”
April 17, 2012