Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and Miguel Cotto faceoff Friday in Las Vegas… (Al Bello / Getty Images )
LAS VEGAS -- The tranquility between Floyd Mayweather Jr.and Miguel Cotto ended Friday, when the pair exchanged heated words on the weigh-in stage followed by a backstage dispute that will force Mayweather to fight in a backup pair of gloves.
Mayweather (42-0, 26 knockouts) weighed in at 151 pounds for Saturday night’s World Boxing Assn. super-welterweight fight against champion Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs), who weighed the limit 154.
As the pair were posed for a face-off inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mayweather smacked chewing gum in the face of the stoic Puerto Rican, then told his foe, "When you face Floyd Mayweather, you face the best."
Cotto, prone to silence and staring, said he answered that Mayweather’s "never faced anyone like me -- that’s why he’s undefeated."
And, now, we have a fight.
Cotto is an 8-to-1 underdog in the sports book against Mayweather, but he professed on stage that he is capable of the upset.
"I can’t just go to the body," Cotto said of his specialty. "I’m here to fight. If he wants to run, I’m ready for that. If he wants to face me, I’m ready for that. I’m ready for everything."
With that, he walked off stage, raising his arms to an equally divided crowd of 6,000.
By weighing more than he ever has for a fight but less than the 154-pound limit, Mayweather said, "I feel comfortable … Miguel Cotto looked dry, drained. I’m comfortable. Whenever I’m comfortable, I’m going to fight well. Take my time. Execute my game plan from the beginning and see what we got."
Minutes later, after Pomona’s Shane Mosley and Mexico’s Saul "Canelo" Alvarez both weighed in at 154 pounds for their World Boxing Council super-welterweight title fight, Mosley trainer Naazim Richardson spotted a flaw in the 10-ounce black and yellow Grant gloves Alvarez planned to use in Saturday’s fight.
Since Mayweather was to also use the same version of the glove, Cotto’s attorney Gaby Penagaricano objected, too.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission ruled the gloves unapproved for both Mayweather and Alvarez because the thumb is covered in patent leather, not genuine leather, and because a hard seam at the top of the thumb protrudes and could ultimately cut an opponent.
A new all-genuine leather version of the gloves were to be flown to Las Vegas from New York Saturday morning, said Tony Lato, the chief inspector for Nevada.
“This ain’t amateur boxing," Richardson said. "This is high stakes. To beat my guy, you better be the better guy, not winning by this horse [explitive].
"A lot of this stuff is just ignorance, people not paying attention … they might take it like I’m challenging someone’s ego, but you can’t be playing with another man’s life."
Richardson previously famously pointed out the hardened inserts tucked inside Antonio Margarito’s hand wraps before a 2009 fight against Mosley at Staples Center, and Mosley proceeded to a knockout victory. The inserts were later found to be caked in plaster.
Lato said he had never seen patent leather on a glove in his 24 years in the business, but Mayweather cornerman Rafael Garcia said Mayweather used a similar glove in his 2010 victory over Mosley.
“My inspectors don’t remember that,” said Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. “This glove looks nice and flashy, but it’s unapproved.”
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Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto exchange words after weigh-in