The Champion of Whatever I Want

p19-151120-a2Sanctioning fees for championship fights are a controversial issue in the sport of boxing and there may be no better example of the consequences of this over-regulation than the recent announcement about the upcoming megafight between Miguel Cotto and Saul Alvarez.  In this case, the defending champion and future hall-of-famer Miguel Cotto was forced to choose between paying $300,000 out of his earnings, or losing his title granted by the WBC, which, ostensibly, he already won in a previous fight.  Especially when you sense the end of your illustrious career approaching, it just makes sense to choose to keep a significant amount of money rather than potentially cashing in bigger on a future fight for a title.

Oscar de la Hoya has taken it upon himself to provide commentary on various fighters’ personal (and professional) decisions in recent weeks.  First, with his sardonic “Farewell” letter to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in which he mockingly claimed to wish the former pound-for-pound champion a happy retirement.  He went on to reveal the true reason he had a letter published in Playboy magazine, criticizing Floyd’s athletic style and conservative choice of opponents, trivializing all of his accomplishments in the sport, and basically claiming that he (De la Hoya) had had a more impressive career.  While I’m sure he won over a lot of Manny Pacquiao fans with his petty jabs, a lot of his examples were inaccurate or just wrong.  His comments included both Cotto and Alvarez, claiming that Floyd had waited until Cotto was in decline to fight him, as he had with all of his top-level opponents.  In fact, his fight with Cotto was three and a half years ago, and only later did Mayweather take on Alvarez, who’s now touted as the next junior middleweight king.  So of course De la Hoya felt it his duty to weigh in on Cotto’s decision not to pay the fee, calling it “a disgrace to the sport” and even suggesting that fighters in general should not try to negotiate the sanctioning fee.  Appropriately, the absurdity of De la Hoya’s statement was exposed by the savvy Dan Rafael, who recalled that De la Hoya had rejected the fee initially proposed for his first fight with Shane Mosley.  There are other examples of fighters becoming irrationally bitter and resentful in their retirement (see Joe Frazier), but these recent outbursts have been particularly petty and transparent.

Cotto’s response was characteristically succinct and provocative:

“I have enough belts in my house…and I can be the champion of whatever I want in my house.”

“I don’t need to pay attention to Oscar De La Hoya’s opinion. He should take care of his own business, and I will take care of mine.”

As honorable as he’s always shown himself to be, Cotto demonstrated again why heart and personality often mean more in the sport than physical ability.  This Saturday, I’m afraid, it may not make the difference.  De la Hoya will be happy for Alvarez as he walks out of the ring, and fans will be cheering for Cotto no matter the result, but nobody will be happy for Oscar.

Categories: Thoughts On: | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Champion of Whatever I Want

  1. There is some merit, I think, to some of De La Hoya’s jabs at Mayweather, if only here and there. While Cotto has been resurgent of late, he really did seem to be on the downside of his career when he signed the Mayweather fight. He had absorbed that beating from Margarito a few years prior, has struggled to a close and somewhat controversial decision with Clottey, gotten brutalized by Pacquiao, and looked so-so in beating a badly wounded Foreman and a has-been Mayorga. Sure, he got revenge on Margarito immediately before, but I don’t know anyone who thought Margarito was the same guy he had been at that point. The solid effort he delivered against Floyd was really a surprising turn at that point, and would have been the beginning of his current resurgence if he hadn’t been comprehensively handled by Austin Trout in his very next fight.

    Even at this point, he’s the legitimate Middleweight Champ, but any competent middleweight could have beat the husk of Sergio Martinez that night, and Delvin Rodriguez is pretty clearly past it by now, as well. The only win he’s got in recent years that doesn’t come with an obvious “but” for me would be his most recent one against Geale, and that’s pretty far removed from the moment at which Mayweather chose to fight him. But perhaps that’s splitting too many hairs.

    Totally agree, though, about the sanctioning fee deal. I think that’s just Oscar trying to needle the guy who is fighting his guy. Anybody who tells me a guy has some sort of moral or professional obligation to pay the yearly salary of a surgeon to some crooks for the sole purpose of winning those crooks’ approval in the event of your victory has lost a great deal of respect from me. Though in fairness, I do think Mauricio Suleiman has shown a few signs of being less corrupt than the late Jose.

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  2. Good insights there for sure. De la Hoya made some valid criticisms of Floyd, and if they had been delivered via Twitter the message would have seemed pretty appropriate, it was just the few exaggerations and the permeating disingenuous meanness that made it seem so childish. The statement about the sanctioning fee is more of the same but plenty of promoters do something similar before a fight, as you mentioned. I totally agree that Cotto’s “resurgence” has been more about fans’ collective relief that Cotto wasn’t completely burned out than about Cotto actually regaining his place in the sport. Like you said, his past fights have been impressive if you don’t consider the level of opposition, but aside from Geale, he hasn’t looked like someone on his way to better fights. I think people are making predictions about Cotto-Alvarez based on a prime Cotto that they remember from his fight with Mayweather, and total anomaly or not, that performance is not likely to be repeated tonight. Win or lose, the fight will be a swan song for Cotto and turning point for Alvarez. Thanks for the comment, always glad to get informed opinions.


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