by Charles Jay
Floyd Mayweather, who had been linked to a few different possibilities for the May 5 date he has booked for the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, wound up with someone not a lot of people expected him to fight, but one who may be the best possible alternative.
A lot of the buzz had been about Canelo Alvarez, a pay-per-view superstar waiting to happen, who may not have been happening enough to push Mayweather too much inside the ring. But for the sake of sheer competition, he might not have done any better than to pick Miguel Cotto.
That is, of course, given the circumstances. He’s not Pacquiao. But he’ll entertain for as long as he lasts.
And unlike Alvarez, in terms of his status as a salable commodity, Cotto has matured already.
Some people may, by this point, be getting a bit weary of it by now. They don’t care about who’s ducking who; they just want to see somebody in action, and even though fans are disappointed that Mayweather and Pacquiao aren’t fighting each other, they want to see them fighting SOMEBODY, rather than some body. Well, here’s somebody, and now Pacquiao has to come up with his own “somebody.”
There wasn’t really any hope for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, not on May 5 anyway; once the holidays passed there really wasn’t enough time to do this up the way it needed to be. Not that the Cotto fight isn’t going to be a big one. It’s just not the same thing as Mayweather-Pacquiao. Even with this one they could use more time to get things ready.
For Cotto, this represents his declaration of independence from Top Rank, which brought him up from the beginning, as they were looking for a Latin hero to fill the vacuum left by Oscar De La Hoya’s departure from the Top Rank fold. Having already lost to Pacquiao, the only way to go would be to try for a rematch against Pacquiao, which was not an especially inspiring idea, or to secure the fight with Mayweather, which was not likely to come from Top Rank anyway.
Meanwhile, Mayweather was not guaranteed anything, at least theoretically, when he went into his hearing with the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Wednesday. Everyone knew that the issue was his upcoming term in Clark County jail, and there may still be people in this audience who recall that Mike Tyson was refused by this same body, even though his fight with Lennox Lewis would have produced an awful lot of commerce for Las Vegas.
This was not your usual Nevada commission hearing, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it contained a fight announcement; it actually had to, because Mayweather was compelled to answer questions from the commissioners and they needed to know whether he was being licensed to have a fight or not.
Also, according to commission chair Raymond Avansino, it was the first time he could recall that a fighter was licensed with some jail time that was still pending.
Come to think of it, it probably hasn’t happened. We know that money talks, and they are perfectly willing to let him go for just one fight. There’s probably nothing terribly wrong with that, especially since he can go somewhere else if he really had to.
What’s most interesting from this vantage point is that Mayweather appears to be playing the “game within a game” here as well. For example, he and Cotto are agreeing to a mutual policy of drug testing, which is apparently his answer to what he perceives as Pacquiao’s reticence to do the same.
Mayweather is also agreeing to move up in weight to 154 pounds. Pacquiao, on the other hand, reportedly insisted that Cotto move down to some “catchweight” in order to agree to a rematch. And of course, the very idea of doing a pay-per-view fight against Cotto gives Mayweather the opportunity to take the subscriber numbers from that and compare them to what Pacquiao did when he fought Cotto. His mentality is that if he “scores” higher, that gives him leverage in any negotiations that might happen for a Pacquiao fight in the future.
As part of this “conditional” licensure by Nevada, Mayweather has to be on good behavior in and out of the ring, which means that he can’t smack anybody around between now and the opening bell. And he will indeed start his 90-day jail sentence on June 1, as if he had a choice.
Now, just go ahead and watch somebody get nicked up in a sparring, so they have to postpone the fight. Heaven forbid; no one wants to see Floyd doing the jailhouse rock without all that extra coin in the till.