NEW YORK — Top Rank CEO Bob Arum told media members on Saturday night that he was “optimistic” that a bout between THE RING’s Nos. 1- and 2-rated pound-for-pound boxers, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., will come fruition.
Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) is coming off a controversial majority decision victory over THE RING lightweight beltholder Juan Manuel Marquez (53-6-1, 39 KOs) on Nov. 12. It was the third meeting between the two, who had earlier battled to a draw and a split-decision win for Pacquiao in May of 2004 and March of 2008, respectively.
Also mentioned as a future opponent for Pacquiao is WBO junior welterweight titleholder Tim Bradley (27-2, 12 KOs), who is promoted by Top Rank Inc., as is Pacquiao.
Pacquiao is reportedly considering a fourth matchup against Marquez, or could attempt to renew the twice-failed negotiations for a bout against Mayweather if not Bradley. Mayweather and Pacquiao’s negotations failed in the past over the issue of drug testing.
“I’m not cofident about anything. I just think that the public wants that fight,” said Arum. “Certainly, we at Top Rank want that fight. Manny wants that fight, and I believe that Floyd wants that fight. So, why wouldn’t I be optimistic?”
Mayweather has announced that he would like to return to the ring on May 5, and has the MGM Grand on hold, thanks to Golden Boy Promotions.
ARUM CLARIFIES HIS CONTRACTUAL STATUS WITH COTTO
Although he does not have a formal contract with Cotto, Arum said that the fighter has indicated that the will continue to work together.
“Miguel said on the international telecast something that he has said to us continuously. When they asked him what his future promotional plans were, he pointed to me and he said, ‘that man is my promoter, and he will always be my promoter,’” said Arum.
“And that’s good enough for me. I never had a contract with Marvin Hagler, and I did every one of Hagler’s fights. Miguel reminds me of Marvin Hagler. The same type of loyalty.”
ARUM DISCUSSES THE REBULDING OF COTTO
The win was the third straight stoppage for Cotto since being dethroned by Pacquiao as WBO welterweight beltholder via 12th-round knockout in November of 2009.
“Because he lost to Pacquiao, that’s no disgrace. He fought the first four rounds touch-and-go with Manny, if you remember,” said Arum. “Then, Manny overwhelmed him with his speed. That didn’t mean the end of Miguel Cotto.”
Cotto dethroned Yuri Foreman by ninth-round stoppage in his junior middleweight debut in June, and vanquished ex-beltholder Ricard Mayorga via 12th-round knockout in March.
“Obviously, he’s a very good fighter, so we gave him a big fight in Yankee Stadium with Yuri Foreman, and then, he fought Mayorga and had a very successful pay per view. Now, Margarito. I didn’t do anything to build him back up, we just provided him with the type of fights that were appropriate,” said Arum.
“There have been three straight knockouts, but he had plenty of knockouts before that. He’s a terrific fighter, and he’s really one of the top fighters of this era. Make no mistake about it. I think that he’s a sure shot to be a Hall of Famer one day.”
ARUM CREDITS COTTO’S NEW TRAINER PEDRO DIAZ FOR MARGARITO VICTORY
Cotto’s trainer was switched for Margarito from Manny Steward, the man in his corner for the previous two fights, to Pedro Diaz, a former Cuban armature coach who became the fighter’s third trainer in the past four years.
“Cotto was in his best shape ever, and that’s because of the training that he went through. We emphasized energy and conditioning, so he was not tired at all. He fought perfectly during the fight. The only time that I had to tell him something was after the third round,” said Diaz, who has a PHD in Pedagogical Sciences is an ex-university professor in sports science.
“There were times where Miguel got overconfident because he wanted to punish Margarito. So he was standing and exchanging blows with Margarito, and we just told him to keep fighting smart like you’ve been doing. Stick to the gameplan, stick and move and don’t let yourself get on the ropes. That’s what he did. He fought very smart all the way through. There were just times where we had to calm him down and to have him just punish him little by little.”
Arum praised Diaz for his work against Margarito, whose closed right eye required 12 stitches to repair.
“I think that a lot of the credit has to go to the new trainer, Diaz. He was a top trainer in Cuba, and they once had the best boxing program in the world,” said Arum. “Cotto fought tonight like a Cuban, and that is good. A lot of the stuff that he did and a lot of the movement was the way that the Cuban stars do.”
ARUM TURNS 80, JOINS DON KING AT THAT AGE
Arum turns 80 on Dec. 8, and he’s looking forward to it. Rival promoter, Don King, turned that age in August.
“Next week I’ll be reaching a real milestone because I never pay much attention to birthdays. But, you know, the big 8-0 is the big 8-0, and, you know, King made it earlier in the year, and you know, he is not going to out-do me.”
Asked if there would be a third fight by a reporter who was referring to Cotto and Margarito, Arum quipped, “between who? Me and Don King?”
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com