Ahead of Saturday’s junior middleweight championship between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Miguel Cotto (live on HBO PPV, 9 pm EDT), I had the pleasure of hosting a live chat with boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. Xfinity subscribers had 30 minutes with the current UBO intercontinental cruiserweight champion (didn’t you know?), and on key they flooded the chatroom and kept things lively.
I had planned a broader interview with Jones Jr. after the chat. I wanted to know more about how he planned to fix boxing, something he alluded to in an interview not long ago. Surely, part of his redesign as “commissioner” would include addressing the elephant in every fan’s living room. I’m talking about Mayweather-Pacquiao, the fight that isn’t taking place on May 5.
While I missed out on my chance to ramble on about how I watched Jones Jr. growing up, how I was his biggest fan and how I still remember where I was the night he made Vinny Pazienza look average, I did manage to sneak in a few questions about that elephant.
And Roy lobbed me a few softballs: Is Mayweather underestimating Cotto? No; Will Mayweather-Pacquiao get done? Nope; If your biggest rival refused to fight you at the pinnacle of your career what would you do? Go to his house and slap him upside his head and tell him we need to fight.
This wasn’t prize-winning stuff, but the uptick in Roy’s voice when he said “nope” was curious. Several commenters had floated the same Mayweather-Pacquiao question during the chat and each time Roy didn’t elaborate much beyond the point of saying he just doesn’t think the fight will happen. And maybe it won’t. But maybe we are asking the wrong questions when we should be asking the obvious: why Mayweather-Cotto and why now?
Saturday’s fight is being held at 154 pounds, marking only the second time Mayweather, who has fought much of his career at welterweight (147 pounds) and below, will compete at the minimum middleweight limit. The only other time Mayweather competed at 154 was back in 2007, when he took a split decision over Oscar De La Hoya. So again, why Cotto at 154? I asked Jones Jr.:
Me: Do you think Mayweather agreeing to fight Cotto at 154 pounds is yet another instance of Floyd saying he’s not worried about a fight with Manny Pacquiao at say, 147, and more concerned about another intriguing bout, one that might include WBC and WBO middleweight champion Sergio Martinez at 154 or 160?
RJJ: “That’s exactly right.”
Roy’s answer was more matter-of-fact than 95 percent of anything else he said on the phone. Mayweather-Martinez is a fascinating fight, if not a precarious one, especially for Mayweather. But like Mayweather-Cotto, and Pacquiao-Bradley, and Mayweather-Larry Merchant, it’s not the fight. So where does that leave us exactly?
Before I could say “could you please elaborate?” I was saying “thank you” and “goodbye” and ending my call with Jones Jr. I didn’t get that Aha! moment concerning the fight we all want to see. Instead, I penciled in a question mark and circled Mayweather-Martinez on a notepad.
For nearly two years Martinez has said on several occasions that a fight with Mayweather would be a career-defining achievement, which is funny when you consider the Argentine “Maravilla” is 49-2-2 and ranked the world’s No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter by many boxing news outlets.
Last November, still nursing his hands from beating up Darren Barker at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City a month earlier, Martinez criticized Pacquiao for intimating a fight between them was possible when Manny could never make anything above 150 pounds. Martinez then claimed that he’s been working with trainers on “a long-term plan to stabilize [his] weight at 154 pounds in case a fight with Mayweather” presented itself. It was an open invitation, if not a direct challenge to Mayweather. In that same interview, Martinez eventually undermined his career by insisting that if he “quit tomorrow people would forget about me.”
That’s unlikely, but Martinez’s point was clear: notoriety and fortune in today’s boxing world are largely associated with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. More to his point is that physical anatomy is preventing him a fight with the smaller Filipino champion. The same cannot be said of Mayweather.
If at 154 pounds Floyd boxes circles around Cotto Saturday night (which there’s a 7-1 chance he will), he’ll be doing the sport a much-needed favor in opening the floor to another great fight with another fine champion not-named Manny Pacquiao. And boxing needs great fights now more than ever.
Mayweather-Martinez is not the elephant, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Xfinity.