For the second time in as many appearances during an eventual three-day, three-city tour, Floyd Mayweather Jr. took shots at Manny Pacquiao while promoting his upcoming challenge against WBA junior middleweight titleholder Miguel Cotto.
“Pacquiao’s an amazing fighter. He’s an amazing fighter,” said WBC welterweight beltholder Mayweather during Tuesday’s press event at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, N.Y. “But all I’ve got to say is that if you ain’t got nothing to hide, take the test.”
The day before, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mayweather proclamed that he “is not a cheater like Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao.” Pacquiao has an ongoing defamation lawsuit against Mayweather for publicly insinuating that his success over eight weight classes is the result of having used performance-enhancing drugs.
“Everybody said Floyd Mayweather is ducking Pacquiao, saying, ‘he’s scared.’ Going back to the Pacquiao fight, who wants to see…if I’m scared, if I’m a coward, why do you guys want to see me fight?” said Mayweather. “I have the will to win. Call me what you want to call me. I’m a winner, not a cheater.”
On Tuesday, Mayweather also insinuated that Pacquiao’s 12th-round knockout over Cotto for his current WBO title — waged at a contracted 145 pounds in November of 2009, two pounds below the welterweight limit — was well below Cotto’s comfort zone and favored Pacquiao.
“The Puerto Rican boxing background is truly, truly amazing. A lot of great champions come from Puerto Rico. You guys have got another great champion in Miguel Cotto. Tough, strong, solid 154-pounder,” said Mayweather.
“You know, I’m not the kind of fighter that’s going to, you know — I’m not looking to cheat. My thing is this: I told Miguel Cotto, ‘I don’t want to fight you at a catchweight. I want to fight the best Miguel Cotto.'”
Mayweather added more later on.
“I guess the media and the fans don’t see what’s going on. I don’t have anything negative to say about Manny Pacquiao,” said Mayweather. “It’s so crazy for a guy to come from a small weight, balloon up and walk through guys like Miguel Cotto. That’s crazy for me.”
Margarito was discovered to have illegal hand wraps in his gloves prior to his ninth-round knockout loss to Shane 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.
“To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, and he’s one of the best fighters out there today. You know, I’m going to finish putting the rest of the pieces together,” said Mayweather.
“It’s a puzzle, and you’ve got certain pieces that go to the puzzle. He’s one of the pieces, so that I can solidify myself as one of the best fighters to ever live.”
Mayweather and Cotto, who will face off at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 5, will continue their tour on Thursday at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.
“We have this press conference today and Thursday in Los Angeles. I want these days to pass quick to start training and to get focused for this fight,” said Cotto, during his brief comments at the podium.
“I guarantee you, it’s going to be one of the biggest fights that you’ve ever seen. On May 5, I’m going to make every Puerto Rican proud.”
Speaking four days after having celebrated his 35th birthday, Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs) said he’s ready to prove that he’s not too old to defeat Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs).
“At the age of 35, I’m still going strong. I’m still hungry, and I still want to give you fans nothing but excitement,” said Mayweather. “I want you guys to tune in on May 5, support Floyd Mayweather and support Miguel Cotto, because they’re going to be there to give you guys a toe-to-toe battle.”
Photo by Jeff Fusco-Hogann Photos-Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com