The sober atmosphere that’s prevailed throughout the build-up to Saturday’s super welterweight title fight between Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto extended into Wednesday’s final press conference with the two fighters at the MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theatre.
Cotto, who is defending his WBA 154-pound title (despite second billing throughout the promotion), was typically laconic with his remarks. Speaking in English for less than one minute, the Puerto Rican icon exuded a quiet confidence despite the 7-to-1 odds against him.
“I’m going to be quick like always, [because] I like to talk in the ring,” the 31-year-old Cotto said. “I had a tremendous camp in Orlando. I feel really good. I trust in [trainer] Pedro [Diaz], my team, and I trust most in myself.
“All the work we made in Orlando, all the work we made in Las Vegas, I’m very prepared.”
Wearing sunglasses and a white T-shirt, Mayweather jawed conspiciously with friends and casually sipped coffee from a paper cup during Cotto’s remarks, only snapping to attention when longtime advisor Leonard Ellerbe took the dais for a typically reverential introduction.
Mayweather, speaking sluggishly as if he’d just woken up, thanked his team, the sponsors, the media, the photographers and HBO for their roles in a promotion he hopes can break the pay-per-view buy record of 2.4 million set by his 2007 fight with Oscar De La Hoya — a goal he confessed was highly optimistic.
“Miguel is a true warrior, a tough champion,” he said, “and to go down in the Hall of Fame as one of the best, you have to face the best opposition.”
The 34-year-old Mayweather, currently ranked No. 1 in SI.com’s pound-for-pound ratings, couldn’t resist taking a jab at promotional archrival Top Rank, whose contract with Cotto expired following his Dec. 3 victory over Antonio Margarito at Madison Square Garden.
“This fight had to happen, and I’m glad it happened when Miguel was on his own, so he can call his own shots and dictate,” he deadpanned.
Mayweather closed with a variation of one of his favorite themes — 42 have tried, 42 have failed — before posing with Cotto for one last staredown ahead of Saturday’s main event.
“I’ve been here so many times, I know what it takes. I don’t have to brag, I don’t have to boast,” he said. “Come May 5th, I’ll be at my best.”
– Bryan Armen Graham