NEW YORK, N.Y. — Floyd Mayweather flashed his mega-watt smile behind a pair of sunglasses and they booed. He waved the peace sign and they booed some more. He showed a touch of class by complimenting his opponent, Miguel Cotto, but they continued to rain boos on him.
Floyd Mayweather said he always wanted to be on stage at The Apollo Theater, where he recently announced his May 5 showdown with Cotto to the public, and now he knows what it’s like to be booed at the fabled Harlem venue. At least he had the clout not to get pulled off stage as many booed acts do at the Apollo.
Actually, Mayweather (42-0, 26 knockouts), who will challenge the WBA 154-pound titleholder at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, seemed to enjoy the boos from the pro-Cotto Puerto Rican crowd.
“I’m happy they’re booing me, because that lets me know the fans know who I am,” Mayweather said after Tuesday’s public press conference for the HBO Pay Per View event. “If I didn’t have a personality, and I didn’t speak my mind, I wouldn’t be where I am today, or the level I am. I just turned 35 (February 22) and I’m still on top of the game. The one thing about this fight is and about Miguel Cotto is you have to give him credit. He’s going to come at me and he’s going to fight. I know people want to drag me down every chance they get, the media twists things up. I’m this, I’m that. But people forget I represented this country in the 1996 Olympics. I’m proud of my country and who I am.”
And the invariable “magic name” came up — Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather was again very candid in his assessment of a future fight, and still won’t let go of certain allegations he previously made against the Filipino icon.
Mayweather maintains that beating Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs) — at junior middleweight (154 pound weight limit) — will mean more than when Pacquiao dispatched the Puerto Rican star by 12-round stoppage in November of 2009. That, Mayweather says, was a languid, deflated version of Cotto that Pacquiao took advantage of.
“In my mind, Miguel Cotto is still undefeated,” Mayweather said. “He lost to someone who cheated and he wasn’t at his best against Pacquiao. It’s why I want to fight him at 154, when he’s strong and healthy. Everyone they put in front of me, I beat. Floyd Mayweather is a winner, and at the end of the day, Floyd Mayweather is not a cheater. If I was Timothy Bradley, I’d have Manny Pacquiao take random blood and urine testing.
“When Miguel Cotto was with Top Rank, Bob Arum only let him fight Top Rank fighters, because he kept everything in-house. They said I was scared of Antonio Margarito, I got called scared and a coward. Come to find out, he was cheating. But they don’t want to say Floyd was right for not taking the Antonio Margarito fight. You know a fight that could have messed me up for the rest of my life, ended my career. Things happen in the sport of boxing and I’m a smart individual and the fans don’t see what Floyd Mayweather sees and goes on. It’s still crazy to see a guy coming from a small weight and blowing up and walk straight through guys like Miguel Cotto. It’s just crazy to me. One of the first things I said was no catch weight. I have to go in the gym and bite down and train hard. This fight with Cotto had to happen.”
Cotto feels he can catch up to Mayweather and nail him thanks to fighting at what he says is his natural weight, and he praised his May 5 challenger for agreeing to face him at 154 pounds.
“The power is going to be on my side, but I plan on slowing down his speed and movement like I did [Shane] Mosley a few years ago,” Cotto said. “This is my time to be a free agent and do things by myself. It’s impossible to grow with [Top Rank]. We received (an offer) from Mayweather, and the other choice came from Top Rank offering the rematch with Pacquiao. We received better benefits from Mayweather. It’s business. Mayweather wanted to fight me at 154, and that makes me feel good.”
Mayweather ventured to junior middleweight one other time, when he defeated Oscar De La Hoya by split decision in May of 2007. It was a competitive fight until Mayweather pulled away in the final four rounds of the bout.
“We’ll see about the weight [gain],” Mayweather said. “I was around 150, I think maybe 152 for the [De La Hoya] fight. My thing is just listen to the game plan, and the game plan is to win. If the game plan isn’t working, we’ll move on to something else. Miguel Cotto is a solid junior middleweight, a strong champion. Cotto is going to come to me. The one thing you have to give credit to Miguel Cotto for is he always comes straight ahead and lays it on the line.”
Despite at one point saying he was tired of talking about Pacquiao, Mayweather couldn’t resist getting a few more knocks in on Pac-Man and their recent phone conversation.
“This is the same guy that just lost his last fight, and the media knows he lost; they know he lost,” Mayweather said. “It’s so crazy to me that you can go look at Pacquiao’s paydays, and if I offered him $30-million, and I didn’t give him money on the backend. Why should I? He’s with [Bob] Arum right now and they’re having problems. It’s obvious he’s not getting money on the backend.
“Just by speaking to Pacquiao on the phone, I mean he’s not one of the sharpest knives in the drawer. I could tell that someone is in his ear telling him about 50-50. Basically saying you want 50-50, that’s like basically saying you don’t want to fight Floyd Mayweather. Because I’m going to let you guys know right now, he’s not getting 50-50. You face Floyd Mayweather, he’s not getting 50-50. No one is getting 50-50. It’s so crazy, everyone is saying Floyd Mayweather is ducking Manny Pacquiao, he’s scared. If I’m scared and a coward, why do you guys want to see me fight. Because I don’t want to see a scared fighter or a coward. I know what it really is.”
When asked if he thinks the Pacquiao fight will ever happen, Mayweather snapped “Absolutely not.”
“The only way I think the fight with the guy who has three losses and I don’t know how many draws, the only way that fight will happen is, he has to leave Bob Arum,” he continued. “I’m not telling him to leave Bob Arum, because I know how the media is. Floyd Mayweather Promotions, Golden Boy Promotions, Miguel Cotto Promotions, we’re going to do record-breaking numbers on May 5. That’s my priority.”
Photo / Jeff Fusco – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions