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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Going into Cotto-Pacquiao, What’s on “Money’s” Mind?

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By Corey T. Willinger November 8, 2009

When Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao clash for Cotto’s WBO welterweight title on November 14, the collective gaze of the boxing world will be firmly fixed on the men in the ring – at least for those twelve rounds or less.

Immediately after the result, the focus will shift to the reaction of the man who should be most interested in the outcome. He is boxing’s biggest name, Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr.

When Mayweather retired as the undisputed best boxer in the world back in 2007, Pacquiao was quickly moved into the number one slot after knocking on the door for a few years. With Mayweather’s return this year, there’s really only one way to settle the debate as to who is number one. That is to have Mayweather and Pacquiao face off.

So far, that fight has yet to be made, though next Saturday should increase the demand to see it with a Pacquiao win over Cotto. On the other hand, if Cotto wins, then a new option arises for Mayweather. Either way, the biggest fight in boxing is Mayweather against the winner of Cotto-Pacquiao.

The question is: does Mayweather want that date?

Mayweather has plenty of reason to believe he can beat both men, so it doesn’t make sense for him to duck either for fear of losing. In his return bout against Juan Manuel Marquez – who twice gave Pacquiao all he could handle – Mayweather looked sensational, scoring a complete shutout of one of the top three fighters in the world.

Critics would point out that Mayweather was fighting a smaller man. And, in truth, he was. Competing at 144 pounds, Marquez was far out of his natural fighting weight and dealing with a naturally bigger and more skilled opponent in Mayweather. Is there any reason to think Mayweather couldn’t use his size advantage to score a convincing win over the similarly smaller Pacquiao?

But Pacquiao is looking better every fight, his latest being a two-round demolition of the normally sturdy Ricky Hatton. Before that, he punished a much bigger Oscar De La Hoya and made him quit on his stool. If there’s a fighter smaller than Mayweather who has a great shot at upsetting him, it’s Pacquiao.

And then there’s Cotto, a natural welterweight who has one blemish on an otherwise perfect resume. In his only loss, rugged tough man Antonio Margarito was able to wear Cotto down and stop him in 2008. In light of recent findings that Margarito attempted to load his gloves prior to his last fight with Shane Mosley – meaning he likely employed the tactic before – Cotto may very well have been the victim of foul play. If not for that loss, he would still be considered the number two welterweight in the world, behind only Mayweather.

But he did lose to a much slower fighter who throws looping punches and telegraphs most of them. Loaded gloves or not, Margarito was getting to Cotto as early as the second round. Shouldn’t the much more accurate Mayweather be expected to land shots on Cotto whenever he wants? Sure, he doesn’t hit as hard as Margarito, but a few well-placed punches is all it takes sometimes, as Mayweather demonstrated against Hatton in 2007.

So who would Mayweather rather face? The bigger but less talented Cotto or the smaller but faster Pacquiao? “Money” being all about money, it’s a safe bet he’s pulling for Pacquiao, who brings a lot more to the table after headlining pay-per-views against Marquez, Hatton and De La Hoya – the same three opponents Mayweather last headlined pay-per-views with.

Of course, there’s more to a fight than just two guys wanting to fight each other. Both Cotto and Pacquiao are promoted by Bob Arum, Mayweather’s former promoter and strongest critic. For those unaware, Arum’s grudge against Mayweather for leaving his promotional company, Top Rank, could prevent a fight between Mayweather and the winner on November 14 from materializing. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

There’s no doubt Cotto and Pacquiao would love to fight Mayweather. They both want to be viewed as the best on the planet. But will Arum give Mayweather the majority of the purse like he deserves in order to make the fight happen? All signs point to no.

Arum is already making excuses by saying the purse split for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight should be 50-50. That’s just not going to happen. 55-45 would be more realistic and fair, but Arum isn’t going to risk his number one fighter without being overcompensated for it.

So Mayweather will have to hope that public demand will cause Arum to fold for the sake of the sport – and for the sake of making some money at all off this mega-fight – and give Mayweather, the bigger draw, the larger share.

And if Mayweather were to turn down a 55-45 or 60-40 offer, then and only then could boxing historians look back at 2010 and know for sure whether or not he ducked Pacquiao and passed on the biggest fight in decades. For once, everyone will know for sure what was really on “Money’s” mind.

Source: http://insidefights.com/2009/11/08/going-into-cotto-pacquiao-whats-on-moneys-mind/

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