WBC welterweight beltholder Floyd Mayweather Jr. didn’t take long to stir up controversey in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Monday, the first day of a three-city press tour touting his HBO Pay Per View-televised challenge against WBA junior middleweight titleholder Miguel Cotto.
“Floyd Mayweather is not a cheater like Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao. Hard work. Hard work. Hard work,” said Mayweather, from the podium, to screams and cheers of support for an introductory speech during which he was otherwise heavily booed.
“We want to give the fans excitement, we want to give them what they want to see, so he don’t have to worry about me moving. It will be a toe-to-toe battle May 5. I’ve faced 42, and I’ve beat 42. I never worry. It’s just another day. So you can scream and root for him because it’s the right thing to do…But you don’t dominate this sport for 16 years without hard work.”
Pacquiao, holder of the WBO’s welterweight belt, has an ongoing lawsuit against Mayweather accusing him of defamation, asserting that the fighter has continued to insinuate publicly that Pacquiao’s success over eight weight classes is the result of having used performance-enhancing drugs.
Negotiations for megabouts between Pacquiao, who is promoted by Top Rank Inc., and Mayweather, who is handled by Golden Boy Promotions, have twice failed over Mayweather’s insistance on Olympic-style random drug testing.
Prior to his past two victories over Shane Mosley in May and Victor Ortiz, in September, Mayweather required that his opponents undergo Olympic-style random drug testing of urine and blood that was conducted by United States Anti-Doping Agency.
Margarito was discovered to have illegal hand wraps in his gloves that were removed prior to his ninth-round knockout loss to Mosley in January of 2009, causing speculation that he was dirty in his previous fight — an 11th-round knockout of a badly-beaten Cotto in July of 2008.
Cotto avenged that loss in his last fight in December, scoring a 10th-round TKO over Margarito at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Mayweather was fortunate to have access to a microphone, for he was jeered and booed throughout his time speaking at the podium.
“The people must realize. You can’t get in there and fight for the fighters. The fighters have to fight. It’s a one-on-one sport. My trainer can’t fight for me. His trainer can’t fight for him. So no matter what no one says, it comes down to the two fighters at the end of the day,” said Mayweather.
“And I know what it takes. I gave the sport of boxing my whole life. May 5, you’re going to get one helluva show. Miguel Cotto, he’s going to come, he’s going to fight hard. I’m going to fight hard. We’re going to give the Puerto Rican fans excitement.”
Sitting on stage, to the right of Mayweather, was the rapper, 50 cent, whom Mayweather introduced as his best friend.
“To be the best, you must fight the best. Miguel Cotto is one of the best fighters in the sport of boxing today. Puerto Rican fans have been supporting me for so many years,” said Mayweathe.
“It would It would only be right for them to support their fighter. But when it comes down to it, when it comes down to the come down, one man has to rise to the occasion, and that will be me.”
Mayweather and Cotto, who will face off at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 5, will continue their tour on Tuesday at New York’s famous Apollo Theater before ending it on Thursday at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, with all events being open to the public.
Mayweather-Cotto will headline an undercard that will also feature Mosley challenging WBC 154-pound beltholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
RICHARD SCHAEFER DESCRIBES ‘SENSATIONAL’ CROWD
“There is only one word to describe the press conference, and that’s sensational. Based on what I’ve heard from Miguel, and from [Cotto's advisor,] Gaby Penagaricano, this was the biggest press conference ever in Puerto Rico. A huge turnout. Absolutely first class with everything,” said Schaefer.
“I talked to Gaby and to some of the cable operators there and the close circuit people there as well, and they say that the early indications are that this is going to break all records for Puerto Rico. This is, without any question — and people can quote me on it and they can call me on it — but this is without any question going to be the second-biggest, if not, the biggest non-heavyweight pay per view event of all time.”
“I don’t know if it’s going to surpass, to be honest, De La Hoya-Mayweather,” said Schaefer. “But it’s certainly going to become the second-highest, non-heavyweight pay per view event of all time. This is going to be huge — and you can put HUGE in capitol letters.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com