By Rich Mancuso
Though three-time champion Miguel Cotto and Bob Arum remain on good terms there was no surprise as to the May 5th Cotto-Floyd Mayweather Jr. meeting. Cotto was rumored to be doing his own business and Arum said, he is always welcome to return.
Mayweather has had the May 5 date on his schedule, all of course with initial speculation it would be Manny Pacquiao. However, there were rumors that Cotto wanted Mayweather as his next opponent. And that became official last week when Cotto gave his answer and did not renew his deal with Top Rank,
So Cotto, who will fight without the Top Rank banner for the first time, has joined a group of other big time money fighters, Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya who deflected from Top Rank. All have made money for Arum and likewise Top Rank made millions for them. One can say it is all about business, but it leaves speculation as to when or if Manny Pacquiao will follow.
While Pacquiao has apparently agreed to defend his welterweight title, against Timothy Bradley Jr. in Las Vegas on June 9th at the MGM Grand Arena, Arum, according to a source is concerned. The priority now for Top Rank is to make assurances that Pacquiao is content and will end his career as a Top Rank fighter.
According to what has been determined, Cotto had been advocating the fight with Maywether. Immediately after he defeated Antonio Margarito in their second fight at Madison Square Garden in early December, there were reports coming from the Cotto camp that he wanted Mayweather next and would make every attempt to make the fight. With or without Arum, Cotto with his own promotional company had been negotiating with the Mayweather camp before the Margarito fight. Realizing that Arum has no regard to Mayweather, attributed to the back and forth bickering over the Pacquiao-Mayweather mess, Cotto contemplated a move and decisions. One goal was to get Mayweather, and to do that he had to sway away from Arum.
Regardless of when Mayweather was to begin his 90-day incarceration for domestic violence, Cotto was choosing Mayweather as the next opponent. Mayweather was not getting Pacquiao for May 5th and the moment was right.
And Top Rank confirmed last week that Mayweather could indeed have worked a deal with Cotto. It was all of course pending on the Mayweather license hearing that was taking place in the Nevada State Athletic Commission Las Vegas offices last Wednesday.
This has become a pattern for Arum, who claims to have no control of this latest turn of events. The Cotto situation may not lead to Pacquiao following Mayweather and De La Hoya out the door. Arum goes to great lengths in keeping Pacquiao happy and overall there is a good working relationship
Monday, there was an agreement in place for Pacquiao to meet Timothy Bradley, one of four possible opponents for Pacquiao. Arum took his journey to Manila and met with Pacquiao, a common part of their relationship. However, as the years progressed and, as De La Hoya and Mayweather became the hottest pay-per-view commodities, they no longer had use for Arum.
HBO continued to market Mayweather and De La Hoya, and with the exception of one fight on Showtime last year, Pacquiao and HBO have become a perfect marriage. And with Arum, there is a good relationship. There has been no knowledge of dissention or disputes when it comes to opponents for Pacquiao, unless, of course, what has come from reports that Pacquiao always wanted to fight Mayweather and Arum wanted no part of the fight.
Cotto commented last week that his fight with Mayweathe was what fight fans want to see. He added, “I never ducked anyone.” A source close to Cotto said this was an indirect attack at Arum. Realizing that Arum would not go along with a Cotto-Mayweather fight and with Pacquiao and Maywether not on the table, Cotto sought the opportunity.
A spokesperson at Top Rank said last week, “We have nothing to do with this,”
regarding Cotto going ahead with Mayweather as his next opponent. Cotto also had Pacquiao on his agenda, and when Arum met with Pacquiao that fight appeared to be signed sealed, and delivered. That is, until Cotto could not meet on a weight to fight Pacquiao.
Arum is also looking ahead and if Juan Manuel Marquez and Lamont Peterson should meet, perhaps Pacquiao will get that winner which could set up a fourth fight for Pacquiao and Marquez. So Arum does everything to keep Pacquiao content even if Mayweather is not the opponent.
The Mayweather-Pacquiao situation has taken a toll on Arum. And whether or not this determines how long Pacquiao remains with Arum, there is always talk that there is some dissension in the ranks. The question is, what is going on behind the scenes because this is not a script that is discussed daily in a WWE writers meeting.
Will Pacquiao eventually follow the path of Mayweather, De La Hoya, and Cotto? That ultimately could be a future and realistic script at Top Rank.