24.04.08 – By Scoop Malinowski: Team Mayweather has floated several different excuses and reasons to duck Miguel Cotto in the past but this week, probably after extremely careful deliberation, they’ve come out and settled on one – that Cotto lacks enough star power to interest Floyd..
Leonard Ellerbe said to the New York Post: “I think Cotto is a good fighter who’s definitely improving. His promotional company has done a good job in getting the right type of fights to increase his visibility. But he’s still not there yet. The numbers don’t lie. If nobody’s watching him as evidenced by the ratings, what makes him important? I’m not saying he’s a bad fighter. He’s a good fighter. But he’s obviously not on Floyd’s level because nobody’s watching.”
“It took Floyd nine years to get on pay-per-view,” Ellerbe said. “When Floyd steps into the ring, it’s going to be about legacy and economics. He’s in control of what’s going on and if those two things aren’t happening, Floyd’s not going to be part of that.”
If you remember, Team Mayweather has also used several other flimsy excuses to avoid Cotto: 1. We won’t do business with Bob Arum again. 2. I’m not going to let boxing retire me, I will retire from boxing, when asked by Larry Merchant on HBO after the Hatton win if he will fight Cotto. 3. Floyd’s bored with boxing. 4. Floyd’s body is breaking down. 5. Cotto is a punching bag and he knows he can’t beat Floyd. 6. Floyd may go to MMA or WWE.
So now Team Mayweather has made it clear yet again they are absolutely refusing to consider a Welterweight Superfight, one that everyone wants to see, because Cotto is, in their opinion, lacking star power, according to an HBO ratings statistic they came up with. Whatever the rating was, no one can deny the atmosphere at the Boardwalk Hall on April 12 was much more exciting than any Mayweather fights which weren’t piggybacked on Gatti, Oscar or Hatton.
The problem most logical boxing fans will have with this Team Mayweather excuse is that at one time Floyd was himself in the same situation. Floyd’s HBO ratings vs. Henry Bruseles must have been similar or worse but Floyd persevered and Arturo Gatti, being the true warrior he is, fought Mayweather in a match he was a massive long-shot. Team Gatti never once used any excuses such as “Floyd is unimportant to us” or “Floyd’s ratings for the Bruseles fight were too low for us to fight him.” Gatti accepted the fact it was the fight the boxing powers wanted to see and some fans wanted and he agreed to it. Gatti, as a superstar, respected the fact Floyd deserved an opportunity on the big stage and gave it to him, without using any EXCUSES.
Next it was Oscar De La Hoya. Oscar, the most popular figure in the sport, did not have to fight the far less popular but talented Mayweather who was practically booed out of the arena during his boring win against Carlos Baldomir. Oscar, a much bigger star than Floyd, did not use any excuses to duck Mayweather like citing Floyd’s small (in comparison) pay-per-view numbers or the fact ticket-buyers began walking out of the Baldomir fight well before it was over. Oscar did what was right for boxing (and himself), gave the fans the fight they wanted to see, and gave a very big special favor for the career of Mayweather.
Ellerbe, speaking for Mayweather, is not showing anywhere remotely near the same respect or generosity towards Miguel Cotto. They are desperately grasping on to the straw excuse that ‘Cotto lacks enough star power/importance for us to fight him.’ Which is totally hypocritical to the generosity of Gatti and Oscar which helped Mayweather ascend to his current position in boxing.
Gatti did not seek to maximize payday rematches with Branco or Dorin as a way to duck Mayweather. De La Hoya did not seek to maximize lucrative rematches with Vargas or Mayorga so in order to duck Mayweather. They did the right thing for the sport and the fans, they fought the best and took their chances.
Why won’t Mayweather fight the best and take his chances? It seems rather clear by now, with all the different excuses and reasons to duck Cotto, Mayweather fears something about Cotto and is unsure if he can defeat the Puerto Rican powerhouse. That’s the final conclusion and it must be written and said. There’s no time to sugarcoat it or sweep it under the rug anymore. Bob Arum is probably 100% right when he insists with firm certainty that Mayweather “is a PSYCHOLOGICAL COWARD.”
Boxing fans should unite and make a collective statement when they try to sell us Floyd vs. Oscar II, a lousy rematch of a first fight which Glen Johnson called “garbage” and Bob Foster called “a bunch of junk.” Because there is by far only one superfight in boxing right now and no matter what a self-serving yes man like Ellerbe (according to Jeff Mayweather) says, it’s Miguel Cotto vs. Floyd Mayweather. A tantalizing showdown between the two best welterweights on the planet, humble gracious champion vs. the arrogant titleholder…the honorable and noble class act vs. the immature spoiled punk…the fearless warrior who will fight whoever they put in front of him vs. the handpicker who has selected every single opponent from day one…the relentless offensive firepower of Cotto vs. the aesthetic defensive boxing skills of Floyd…the soft-spoken gentleman vs. the loud-mouthed braggart.
Ellerbe can talk all he wants about how unimportant Miguel Cotto is. But it’s a bluff. An empty, self-serving, self-surviving bluff. The real reason Mayweather won’t fight Cotto is because there’s a more than likely chance Floyd will be violently and abusively knocked out.
Because if Team Mayweather truly felt confident they could beat Cotto wouldn’t they at least say something like, Yes we will fight Cotto once he beats Margarito or so-and-so? But Team Mayweather has never once said they will fight Cotto under any conditions, not even winner take all. Or a 90-10% split.
I believe Team Mayweather, despite all their different excuses and reasons, is actually patiently banking on one single option to avoid Cotto. They are hoping Cotto loses to Antonio Margarito or, say, Paul Williams.
Team Mayweather’s latest excuse only affirms what most logical boxing fans already know. Floyd Mayweather is afraid to step in a ring and fight a young, strong, intelligent, confident, proud, classy and honorable warrior like Miguel Cotto.
Scoop’s book Tyson vs. Lewis Heavyweight Armageddon! comes out in June.