How To Make $10 Million Dollars in 7 Easy Steps

As a kid I loved watching professional wrestling… until I hit the teenager years and got my first peak that everything wasn’t on the up and up. What I believed was a “real” sport wasn’t real like baseball. Once I got a peak of the curtain I couldn’t resist and pulled it back to see that strength and will didn’t alter the outcomes of matches. It was the work of writers and performers with the sole intention of increasing viewers to earn more money. I haven’t watched wrestling in about 15 years, but the intrigue and mystique of the backstage element is something I’m still very interested in. In fact, I’ve become fascinated with the behind the scenes aspect of wrestling. The question which drives the curiosity is simple, how do they build a match that the public will care about?

One thing I learned was how the writers would plan things to happen months in advance and sometimes a year. I’m not saying it was always like this, but the thought stuck with me. Knowing this has helped me to enjoy many things I otherwise wouldn’t. I’ve developed a patience to wait until things have played out. That there is some bigger picture or something long-term going on which wasn’t visible or even available yet.

When I apply the theories of how to build a match people would be willing to pay to see (as opposed to the ones they’d watch for free) I’ve found that fans are impatient. Promoters and match-makers are shredded on a regular basis on message boards all over the web because of moves they make which, in the present, occur to be off-base or downright stupid. I’m not saying everyone gets a pass because frankly sometimes these decisions are short-sighted or simply stupid, but a lot of the times things unfold in a beautiful way, though they don’t always seem that way at the start.

One of these scenarios is the narrative we’re currently seeing with Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev. Last year when Stevenson and Kovalev began to make noise in the light heavyweight division, fans already began asking for two to meet. We started 2014 with a list of the most anticipated fight of the year being unanimously Stevenson and Kovalev.

Imagine this. Let’s go back to the start of the year. Neither Stevenson nor Kovalev had their next fight booked. Let’s imagine the fight would have been signed. Stevenson goes into the negotiation and says I want a payday comparable to other championship boxers. HBO says okay, we’re paying most champions without much a fanbase around a million. We’ll offer you $1.1 million. Stevenson says no. After some back and forth they settle on $1.6 million for Stevenson. Kovalev gets $1.3 seeing as how Stevenson is the legit light heavyweight champion of the world and Kovalev doesn’t have the Canadian audience in his back pocket. They agree to fight at the Bell Centre in Montreal for a late June fight on HBO Championship Boxing. They fight and whoever wins, wins. And we go on with life. I don’t know about you, but for either guy, this is a dangerous fight. Why take a fight, defending your title for around the same amount you’d get fighting a top level contender? Sure they can rematch, but the mystique is gone. They can go their separate ways and maybe the loser toils headlining cards on HBO, but that’s it. Maybe the other goes on to fight on pay-per-view. That’s unlikely though.

Fast forward to today. Stevenson  is now being advised/managed by Al Haymon. This move I really like because it’s going to benefit both fighters in the long run. Stevenson is going to fight Fonfara while Kovaelv will face Agnew.

Here are is the best case scenario for everyone involved. If HBO, Main Events, Yvon Michel, and Al Haymon can put this together, it would be a masterstroke.

Step 1: Stevenson faces and beats Fonfara fairly easily. (He should.) Kovalev destroys Agnew. Not just a 1 or 2 round blitz, but rather a 5 round destruction where Kovalev systematically breaks the will of Agnew. It’s important that Kovalev look like he can actually make adjustments if his first method of offense doesn’t exactly work.

Step 2: Someone leak word to the press that Stevenson and Kovalev’s camps are getting together to talk a summer fight. Both sides need to say some foul things about the other. Kovalev should say things in Russian in the post-fight interview with Agnew about Stevenson that can’t be translated over the air. Stevenson should tell someone that Kovalev was scared of sparring Golovkin, why should I fight him?

Step 3: The negotiations get called off. This is tricky. The reason can’t be money. They gotta say Kovalev doesn’t want to fight in Montreal.

Step 4: Kovalev needs to announce a summer fight with another light heavyweight. Maybe Juergen Braehmer in Germany. That would be a nice payday and HBO would probably show it. Maybe Golovkin can fight on the card too and it will be a megafight in Germany.  The absolute best case scenario here for Kovalev is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. This would be a pay-per-view event. 

Step 5:  Stevenson signs a fight with the Hopkins-Shumenov winner. This will be hard to do without pissing off HBO. Let’s just trust Al Haymon with this one. Stevenson vs Hopkins/Shumenov. If it’s Hopkins, it’ll be a tough fight, if Shumenov, I can see Stevenson stopping him. Either way, Stevenson would now be holding the WBC, IBF, and WBA super world light heavyweight championship as well as the lineal light heavyweight championship of the world.

Step 5a: Stevenson signs a fight with Jean Pascal. This will be the biggest fight in Canadian history. This will hurt the bottomline later on. Either way, Stevenson should beat Pascal.

Step 6: They gotta be quiet and not negotiate anything. The internet will be exploding the way it did back in 2009 and 2010 during the Mayweather and Pacquiao negotiations. Even if Stevenson faces Pascal rather than Hopkins or Shumenov, I can’t see the internet really calling for that match-up, plus the known network quarrel will quiet most.

Step 7: Negotiate quietly. Announce a fight for late December. Adonis Stevenson vs Sergey Kovalev. The unstoppable force versus the immovable object. This will be the biggest fight made in any division between 2 top fighters in a long time. At this point, it will be a pay-per-view fight. Stevenson should net an 8 figure payday that’s close to $10 million while Kovalev earns around $6 million. If he fights and beats Chavez, I can see both being bumped up by $3 million. The winner is a bonafide pay-per-view star. A rematch could be lucrative as well as a fight with Andre Ward.

It’s important to remember that this is boxing, not wrestling. Anything can happen. An injury or one lucky punch could throw the most perfectly laid plans to the wayside. Amir Khan learned first hand when he went into the Garcia fight with his eyes on a future Mayweather fight. One left hook derailed the biggest payday of Khan’s career. In this scenario, there are a ton of moving parts and holding it all together almost seems impossible. Yet, it shows the importance of patience and looking at the bigger picture to sometimes see what would benefit a career most.

My Fights with Jack Dempsey by Gene Tunney

(This was taken from a compilation book of brilliant boxing prose. This is the ultimate story of styles make fights.  One of my all-time favorite pieces of writing ever and if you guys enjoy this kind of thing, I’ll keep posting more.)

1.

The laugh of the Twenties was my confident insistence that I would defeat Jack Dempsey for the heavyweight championship of the world. To the boxing public, this optimistic belief was the funniest of jokes. To me, it was a reasonable statement of calculated probability, an opinion based on prize-ring logic.

The logic went back to a day in 1919, to a boat trip down the Rhine River. The first World War having ended in victory, the Army was sending a group of A.E.F. athletes to give exhibitions for doughboys in the occupation of the German Rhineland. I was light heavyweight champion of the A.E.F. Sailing past castles on the Rhine, I was talking with the Corporal in charge of the party. Corporal McReynolds was a peacetime sports writer at Joplin, Missouri, one of those Midwestern newspapermen who combined talent with a copious assortment of knowledge. He had a consummate understanding of boxing, and I was asking him a question of wide interest in the A.E.F. of those days.

We had been hearing about a new prizefight phenomenon in the United States, a battler burning up the ring back home. He was to meet Jess Willard for the heavyweight championship. His name was Jack Dempsey. None of us knew anything about him, his rise to the challenging position for the title had been so swift. What about him? What was he like? American soldiers were interested in prizefighting. I was more than most—an A.E.F. boxer with some idea of continuing with a ring career in civilian life.

The Corporal said yes, he knew Jack Dempsey. He had seen Dempsey box a number of times, had covered the bouts for his Mid-western newspaper. Dempsey’s career had been largely in the West.

“Is he good?” I inquired.

“He’s tops,” responded Corporal McReynolds. “He’ll murder Willard.”

“What’s he like?” I asked.

The Corporal’s reply was vividly descriptive. It won’t mean anything to most people nowadays, but at that time it was completely revealing to anyone who read the sports pages. McReynolds said: “He’s a big Jack Dillon.”

I knew about Jack Dillon, as who didn’t thirty years ago? He was a middleweight whose tactics in the ring were destructive assault—fast, shifty, hard-hitting, weaving in with short, savage punches, a knocker-out, a killer. Dillon even looked like Dempsey, swarthy, beetle-browed, and grim—a formidable pair of Jacks.

I thought the revelation over for a moment, and recalled: “Jack Dillon was beaten by Mike Gibbons, wasn’t he?”

“Yes,” replied the Corporal. “I saw that bout. Gibbons was too good a boxer. He was too fast. His defense was too good. Dillon couldn’t lay a glove on him.”

Mike Gibbons was the master boxer of his time, the height of defensive skill, a perfectionist in the art of sparring.

I said to the Corporal: “Well, maybe Jack Dempsey can be beaten by clever boxing.”

His reply was reflective, thought out. “Yes,” he said, “when Dempsey is beaten, a fast boxer with a good defense will do it.”

This, coming from a brainy sports writer, who knew so much about the technique of the ring and who had studied the style of the new champion, aroused a breathless idea in me. My own ambition in the ring had always been skillful boxing, speed and defense—on the order of Mike Gibbons.

As a West Side kid fooling around with boxing gloves, I had always for some reason of temperament, more interested in dodging a blow than in striking one. Fighting in preliminary bouts around New York, I had learned the value of skill in sparring. In A.E.F. boxing I had emphasized skill and defense—the more so as during time I had hurt my hands. Previously I had been a hard hitter. Now, with damaged fists, I had more reason than ever to cultivate defensive sparring.

Sailing down the Rhine, I thought maybe I might be a big Mike Gibbons for the big Jack Dillon. It was my first inkling that someday I might defeat Jack Dempsey for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, which all assumed Jack was about to acquire.

This stuck in my mind, and presently the time came when I was able to make some observations firsthand. I was one of the boxers on the card of that first Battle of the Century, the Dempsey-Carpentier fight. I was in the semifinal bout. This place of honor and profit was given to me strictly because of my service title. The ex-doughboys were the heroes of that postwar period, and the light heavyweight championship of the A.E.F. was great for publicity. I was ballyhooed as the “Fighting Marine.”

Actually, I had no business in the bout of second importance on that occasion of the first Million Dollar Gate. I was an A.E.F. champ, but we service boxers knew well enough that our style of pugilism was a feeble amateur thing, compared with professional prizefighting in the United States. The best of us were mere former prelim fighters, as I was. There were mighty few prominent boxers in Pershing’s A.E.F. In World War II you saw champs and near-champs in uniform, but the draft was not so stern in matters during the war against the Kaiser’s Germany.

In the semifinal bout of the Dempsey-Carpentier extravaganza, I, with my bad hands, fought poorly. Nobody there could have dreamed of me as a possible future conqueror of the devastating champ—least of all Jack himself, if he had taken any notice of the semifinal battlers. I won on a technical K.O. from my opponent, but that was only because he was so bad—Soldier Jones of Canada, who, like myself, was in the big show only because he too had an army title—the war covering a multitude of sins.

After the bout, clad in a bathrobe, I crouched at one corner of the ring, and watched the Manassa Mauler exchange blows with the Orchid Man of France. As prize-ring history records, the bout was utterly one-sided; the frail Carpentier was hopelessly overmatched. But it afforded a good look at the Dempsey style.

The Corporal on the boat sailing down the Rhine had been exact in his description of Dempsey. The Champ was, in ever respect, a big Jack Dillon—with all the fury and destruction implied by that. No wonder they called him the Man Killer. But, studying intently, I saw enough to confirm the Corporal’s estimate that when Dempsey was defeated it would be by a skillful defensive boxer, a big Mike Gibbons. Correct defense would foil the shattering Dempsey attack.

The estimate was confirmed again and again during subsequent opportunities. I attended Dempsey fights, and studied motion pictures of them. More and more I saw how accurate defense could baffle the Man Killer’s assault. The culmination was the Shelby, Montana, meeting of Dempsey and Tom Gibbons, the heavyweight younger brother of Mike. Tom, like Mike, was a consummate boxer, and Dempsey couldn’t knock him out. For the first time in his championship and near-championship career, the Man Killer failed to flatten an opponent. The public, which had considered Tom Gibbons an easy mark, was incredulous and thought there must have been something peculiar about it. For me there was nothing peculiar, just final proof that good boxing could thwart the murder in the Dempsey fists. There was a dramatic twist in the fact that the final proof was given by a brother of Mike Gibbons.

2.

At the Dempsey-Carpentier fight, I had seen one other thing. Another angle flashed, as at a corner of the ring I watched and studied. Famous in those days was the single dramatic moment, the only moment when the Orchid Man seemed to have a chance. That was when, in the second round, Carpentier lashed out with a right-hand punch. He was renowned for his right, had knocked out English champions with it. He hit Dempsey high on the jaw with all his power.

I was in a position to see the punch clearly and note how Carpentier threw it. He drew back his right like a pitcher with a baseball. The punch was telegraphed all over the place. Yet it landed on a vulnerable spot. How anybody could be hit with a right launched like that was mystifying to one who understood boxing. Dempsey went back on his heels, jarred. Carpentier couldn’t follow up, and in a moment Jack was again on the relentless job of wrecking the Orchid Man with body blows. But it was a vivid demonstration that the champion could be hit with a right.

Dempsey was no protective boxer. He couldn’t do defensive sparring. He relied on a shifty style, how own kind of defense, and couldn’t be hit just any way. His weakness was that he could be nailed with a straight right. Later on, I saw this confirmed in other Dempsey battles. It was dramatized sensationally at the Polo Grounds when the powerful but clumsy Firpo smashed him with a right at the very beginning of the first round, and later blasted Dempsey out of the ring with right-hand punches—the Wild Bull of the Pampas almost winning the championship.

To me it signified that the strategy of defensive boxing might be supplemented by a right-hand punch—everything thrown into a right. It would never do for me to start mixing with the Champ in any knock-down, drag-out exchange of haymakers. He’d knock me out. It would have to be a surprise blow, and it could easily be that. Both Carpentier and Firpo, who had nailed the Champ, were noted for their right—all they had. But Jack would never suspect a Sunday punch from me, stepping in and trying to knock him out with a right.

I was catalogued not only as a defensive boxer but also as a light hitter, no punch. I might wear an opponent down and cut him to pieces, but I couldn’t put him to sleep with a knockout slam. That had been true—previously. I had been going along with the handicap of bad hands. I could hit hard enough, but didn’t dare for fear of breaking my hands. So I was a comparatively light hitter—and typed as one.

Finally, in desperation, I had to do something about my fragile hands. I went to a lumber camp in Canada for one winter and worked as a woodsman, chopping down trees. The grip of the ax was exercise for my damaged mitts. Months of lumber camp wood chopping and other hand exercises worked a cure. My hands grew strong and hard, my fists rugged enough to take the impact of as powerful a blow as I could land. In subsequent bouts I had little trouble with my hands. That I knew, and others might have been aware of the change, but I was tagged as a feather duster puncher—and that was that. The old philosophy of giving a dog a bad name.

Prizefight publicity often resorts to the ballyhoo of a secret punch, a surprise blow, nearly always a fraud—but I really had the chance. At the beginning of the first round I would step in and put everything I had in a right-hand punch, every ounce of strength. I might score a knockout, or the blow would daze the champion sufficiently to make it easier to outbox him the rest of the way.

I was, meanwhile, fighting my way to the position of challenger. I won the light heavyweight championship from Battling Levinsky and subsequently fought Carpentier, the Orchid Man, and went through a series of savage bouts with Harry Greb, one of the greatest of pugilists. In our first bout, Greb gave me a murderous mauling. In our last, I beat him almost as badly. After a long series of matches with sundry light heavies and heavies I went on to establish myself as heavyweight contender by defeating Tom Gibbons. It was dramatic irony that I earned my shot at the expense of Tom, brother of my model, Mike.

Public opinion of my prospects with Dempsey was loud and summary. The champion is always the favorite, and Dempsey was one of the greatest champions, as destructive a hitter as the prize ring has ever known. He was considered unbeatable, and I was rated as a victim peculiarly doomed to obliteration, pathetic, absurd.

It was argued that I was a synthetic fighter. That was true. As a kid prelim battler, my interest had been in romantic competition and love of boxing, while holding a job as a shipping clerk with a steamship company. As a marine in France, my love of boxing and distaste for irksome military duties after the armistice brought me back as a competitor in A.E.F. boxing tournaments. We gave our best to entertain our buddies and, incidentally, to avoid guard duty. After the war, when I had grown up, my purpose simply was to develop the sparring ability I had as a means of making money—seeing in the heavyweight championship a proud and profitable eminence.

They said I lacked the killer instinct—which was also true. I found no joy in knocking people unconscious or battering their faces. The lust for battle and massacre was missing. I had a notion that the killer instinct was really founded in fear, that the killer of the ring raged with ruthless brutality because deep down he was afraid.

Synthetic fighter, not a killer! There was a kind of angry resentment in the accusation. People might have reasoned that, to have arrived at the position of challenger, I must have won some fights. They might have noted that, while the champion had failed to flatten Tom Gibbons, I had knocked him out. But then the Dempsey-Gibbons bout was ignored as rather mystifying, one of “those thing.”

The prizefight “experts” were almost unanimous in not giving me a chance. The sports writers ground out endless descriptions of the doleful things that would happen to me in the ring with Dempsey. There were, so far as I know, only a few persons prominent in sports who thought I might win, and said so. One was Bernard Gimbel, of the famous mercantile family, a formidable amateur boxer and a student of ring strategy. The others included the prince of sports writers, the late W.O. McGeehan, and a few lesser lights in the sports-writing profession. They picked me to win, and were ridiculed. The consensus of the experts was echoed by the public, though with genuine sadness on the part of some.

Suspicious of a hoax started following a visit by a newspaperman to my training camp at Speculator, New York. Associated Press reporter Brian Bell came for an interview. He noticed a book lying on the table next to my bed. Books were unexpected equipment in a prizefight training camp. He was curious and took a look at the volume—The Way of All Flesh. That surprised him. The Samuel Butler opus was, at the time, new in its belated fame, having been hugely praised by George Bernard Shaw as a neglected masterpiece. It was hardly the thing you’d expect a prizefighter to be reading, especially while training for a bout with Jack Dempsey.

Brian Bell knew a story when he saw one. He later became one of the chief editors of the Associated Press. Instead of talking fight, he queried me about books. I told him I liked to read Shakespeare. That was the gag. That was the pay-off. The A.P. flashed the story far and wide—the challenger, training for Jack Dempsey, read books, literature—Shakespeare. It was a sensation. The Shakespeare-Tunney legend was born.

(Parts 3, 4, & 5 will be posted later.)

Has Mayweather Pulled The Wool Over Everyone’s Eyes?

Look at us. Arguing over who should get a shot at earning the biggest pay days of their careers. Certainly this has been no mistake by Mayweather that there are only 2 options everyone’s looking at. He’s the ultimate showman and he’s using a little disdirection on us here.

We have Amir Khan. The fan favorite. (Though you’d never believe it if you read any message board on the net.) The guy who’s done… absolutely nothing to earn the shot. Sure, he was the lineal light welterweight champion for 10 minutes, has wins over Zab Judah, Paulie Malignaggi, Andriy Kotelnik, and Marco Antonio Barrera… oh yeah, and a narrow escape over Marcos Maidana. Sure, he’s got length and speed and an exciting all out offensive attack that is reminiscent of a Mike D’Antoni team.

But he’s also 2-2 in his last 4 fights. By the time the May fight would come around, he’ll have had a year and a month layoff. The highest he’s officially weighed in at was 142 lbs. He’s been knocked down 5 times in those 4 fights. Knocked out once. He hasn’t recorded a stoppage since 2011. In total he’s got 3 losses, 2 by knockout. He’s shown very little defensive improvement in the past 5 years, and yet here we are pushing for a fight between him and Maywather. On the merit of what? He has a big following and it will be an exciting fight. Okay.

What about the other guy?

Marcos Maidana. One of the hardest punchers in the game. He’s fierce and takes no shit in the ring. I actually heard he was going to Spain to participate in the running of the bulls. As a bull. Ever since getting together with Robert Garcia, we’ve seen Maidana transform from a guy who looks to hit a homerun with every swing to a fairly complete boxer with a crude, but effective defense. He’s coming off the biggest win in his career after beating Adrien Broner.

But when you think about that win over Broner. Who was Broner and what makes him a qualifier for a fight with Mayweather? They share the same stance? They hide behind their shoulder? Their styles are far from each other. Broner only used the shoulder roll on occasion, whereas Mayweather has built an entire offense around it. Broner’s biggest win was a close split decision over Paulie Malignaggi. A guy Khan was able to stop. Really, Broner was a sitting duck who’s 2nd fight at welterweight showed him to be a fraud who had no business fighting at an elite level at 147 lbs. Yet, we’re ready to proclaim his conqueror as the next to face the best fighter in the game.

Remember how easily Devon Alexander outboxed Maidana? It was a wipeout. Maidana won one round. Total. On all 3 scorecards. Only 1 round for him.

And yet, it is what it is. There are our options. A poll revealed that Amir Khan is who fans want to see Mayweather face. I, personally, would rather see Khan. I think the likelihood of Mayweather knocking out Khan is far better than Maidana knocking out Mayweather.

What would be ideal? I’d rather see Khan face Maidana. Their first match was close and with Maidana’s improvements under Robert Garcia, that fight has potential to be a fight of the year candidate.

And who would get Mayweather? Golovkin? Lara? Andrade? Hopkins?… Paul Spadafora?

No.

Shawn Porter. He’s been overlooked this whole time for probably the very reason he wouldn’t get the fight. He’s not showing up on anyone’s radar. And yet, he’s deserving.

His biggest win has come against Devon Alexander gaining a portion of the welterweight crown. He’s got a win over Ray Robinson[1] . He’s a natural welterweight who’s actually moved down from junior middleweight where he fought early in his career. He’s decisively beat Julio Diaz (who nearly upset Khan last year.) He fights in a style in a mauling style that is reminiscent of Timothy Bradley which might actually match-up better against Mayweather. It might actually do better than Maidana’s awkward haymakers or Khan’s long range attack.

And the case against Porter? Well, Alexander is by far his biggest win and perhaps his only marketable win to casual fans. He’s fought through adversity like cuts over both eyes, but that only goes so far in the promotion. It’d be nice to see a good guy like Porter get a shot at unifying his title and earning the biggest payday in his career, but in the end, we gotta remember that this is a business. And while Porter is every bit as deserving as Khan and Maidana, the bottom line is king.

Fun trivia. Porter fought and won on the same card where Darnell Boone stopped Adonis Stevenson.

(You can replace most of what was said about Porter with Lara. Lara hasn’t had the same level of excellence in his career given he’s gotten off the deck a few times in his career, but I think he’s ultimately ruled out if you look at the times Mayweather has fought at junior middleweight. He’s only moved up for the biggest fights and I don’t think he’d go to 154 for a fight with Lara.)

The Floyd & Manny Saga: Chapter 2

While the men in suits spoke about the potential fight, Floyd Mayweather made it clear. He was his own boss and answered to no one. He stood firm on his ground at all times. If Pacquiao truly wanted to fight him, he’d have to come out and say it like a man in plain English directly to Floyd. In the past, Pacquiao’s go to response about whether he’d like to fight Mayweather was always a variation of ‘it’s up to my promoter.’

Mayweather claimed that the only reason people asked for or even wanted to see him fight Pacquiao was because of an illusion created by Top Rank. A mythical fighter that could be the one to crack the defensive enigma Mayweather had spent his life crafting. Interpreted another way, Manny was the man created (through matchmaking and clever promotion) to destroy Mayweather.

Mayweather believed that because Manny wouldn’t outright say he wanted to fight him that Manny simply didn’t think he could actually beat Floyd.

Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather’s advisor, stated simply that Mayweather wanted to give the fans what they wanted and that was a fight with Pacquiao.

Pacquiao made it clear for everyone. He was willing to fight Mayweather as long as there was an agreement to actually fight. Manny didn’t want to force Mayweather into fighting him if Floyd didn’t want to.

The assumption, pre-negotiation, from Pacquiao’s side was that Pacquiao would get the lion’s share of the money due to the fact that his bout with Cotto garnered more pay-per-view buys than Mayweather-Marquez did.

At this point, hearing of the impending superfight, Jerry Jones, Steve Wynn, and Lonn Trost all inquired on hosting the spectacle in their respective venues. They offered lavish facilities and generous monetary bids to stage the event.

Arum was adamant that he didn’t care to deal with Mayweather or to even see the fight take place, but for the fight not to occur would be damaging to boxing’s upward momentum it had enjoyed as Mayweather and Pacquiao both rose to stardom.

On November 30th, 2009 the very first real hold-up thwarted the potential fight. It became clear that Pacquiao would make a 2nd attempt at running for congress in the Philippines thereby putting a fight date in jeopardy.

Despite the looming election, Mayweather agreed to the terms of the proposed bout between him and Pacquiao.

On December 2nd, the bout was awaiting Pacquiao approval. Although a date and a venue were still to be agreed upon, and the fact that Roger Mayweather was facing incarceration that would put his presence during training camp and the actual fight in jeopardy, the promoters were optimistic. How optimistic they were remained to be seen as they both voiced alternative plans should anything derail the fight. For Pacquiao, Arum planned a fight with Yuri Foreman at Yankee Stadium, and Richard Schaefer expressed interest in a UK fight with domestic star Matthew Hatton.

The sports world at large could not help but view the fight as done. Even Floyd Sr. believed the fight was a done deal. He began telling anyone who would listen that Pacquiao had made a mistake. That he couldn’t beat his son, no way no how.

And all of that would have been well and good… Until he said this, “I’m going to tell you what you really want to know, which is my personal opinion. Of course I think something shady is going on behind the scenes. A guy just can’t rise like that in weight class and punch the way he does. I feel he needs to be checked out before the next fight.”

This would be the first mention of the possibility of Manny Pacquiao using some sort of performance enhancer. That day was December 5th, 2009.

The next hold up would occur on December 23rd. Manny Pacquiao, the most explosive fighter in the game, rejected to adhere to the testing protocols laid out by USADA. It wasn’t clear at the time why and there was no quote from Pacquiao. His promoter quickly made a statement.

Bob Arum assured everyone that Floyd insisted on blood testing at any point including before the weigh-in, knowing that Pacquiao was freaked out by the needles, and it was his way of letting everyone know he (Floyd) didn’t want the fight.

Arum stated that Pacquiao was not opposed to blood testing. Pacquiao’s counter-offer was to have blood drawn 30 days prior to the fight and immediately following the fight with random urinalysis at any point.

Freddie Roach insisted that any testing would be fine. That the only thing holding up the fight was Floyd’s fear of Manny’s power.

Schaefer took a political stance and hoped that it was a miscommunication and that Pacquiao, who was in the Philippines the entire time, had no clue what was even going on.

This was now the only issue holding up the fight. As of December 23rd, Mayweather and Pacquiao were to meet at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on a “to be determined” date. The weight limit was 147 pounds and there would be a $10 million dollar penalty for every pound either fighter came in over weight.

But the fight was in jeopardy.

The next day was Christmas Eve and Bob Arum intended to save Christmas. He proposed an alternative plan for drug testing. He proposed they use an independent agency that other major American professional sports use for their athletes.

The reason, according to Arum, for the rejection of USADA was the inability to promise no blood would be drawn in the week preceding the fight. Pacquiao claimed that giving blood during the week leading up to the fight would be detrimental to his performance come fight night.

Mayweather’s team listened to Arum’s offer and stood firm. USADA or nothing.

The day after Christmas the boxing world was buzzing with suspicion over whether or not Pacquiao was a clean fighter. Manny Pacquiao, confident of his status as a clean athlete, had had enough and asked Arum to file a defamation suit with those who were accusing him of using performance enhancing drugs. That suit would include Floyd Mayweather, Roger Mayweather, Floyd Mayweather Sr, Mayweather Promotions, Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya, Arum obliged and began negotiations with promoter Lou DiBella for a March fight with Paulie Malignaggi (who previously had accused Pacquiao of using PED’s.)

Manny released a press statement directed at Floyd. “Pretty Boy Floyd, face me instead on March 13 in Las Vegas and not in some talk show forum or in press releases written for you by people who don’t even know me. Face me in a fight where I get to punch back. To Floyd, despite all these accusations, may your Christmas be merry, and I will see you in court soon, too.”

Mayweather’s response was simple. It doesn’t have to be USADA, but it has to be random.

Arum wanted to put the testing in the hands of the commission. To stand back and let them handle it. Whatever the commission said would be so.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission stated that if the sides agree to leave it in their hands, and if additional testing was absolutely necessary, they could bring it to a hearing when the commission met again. But the date of their meeting would not be until January 13th. HBO was weary of this idea because they wanted to begin fight promotion the first week of January.

The New Year came and with the fight in serious jeopardy now, the innovative and controversial HBO color commentator Larry Merchant proposed an idea. He proposed bringing in Senator John McCain to mediate the issues holding up the fight so that an agreement could finally be reached. Ross Greenburg went to Arum and Schaefer with the idea and both of them expressed interest. They went to their fighters and informed them of the new plan.

Arum would come back with bad news. Pacquiao was still upset about the PED allegations and refused any negotiations. Greenburg stood persistent.

Arum continued to beat the drum of the Nevada State Athletic Commission and their drug testing procedures. He figured they would be appropriate, and given it’s their job to maintain a neutral playing field in their state, they would a good job as they always did.

Schaefer took the stance that Arum himself believed the fight was off and that he spoke like it was never going to happen whenever he spoke about it. Schaefer maintained that they were open to all negotiations including working something out with drug testing.

After a week off of negotiating, both sides gave in and agreed to bring in a mediator. Former judge Daniel Weinstein, who previously mediated the dispute between Top Rank and Golden Boy over the promotional rights of Manny Pacquiao, would have the honors. Weinstein’s job would be to come in and mediate appropriate cut-off dates for drug testing. While both sides agreed not to comment until the fight was made, word started getting out that Mayweather could potentially still fight on the proposed March 13th date at MGM, only his opponent would be Paulie Malignaggi.

Mediation began the following day, January 6th, 2010.

Top Rank, represented by Bob Arum, Todd duBoef, and their legal team met with Richard Schaefer, Oscar De La Hoya, their legal team, and Mayweather’s manager Al Haymon. For 9 hours they worked on a deal with Judge Weinstein.

When they concluded in the evening, all that would be said by a Top Rank lawyer was that “mediation is still ongoing.” A gag order was placed on all parties, but they didn’t appear optimistic about the future.

The following day the fight was declared officially dead by Bob Arum. He claimed Mayweather was unwilling to budge off random drug testing and a refused to issue a public apology for accusing Pacquiao of using PED’s. According to Arum, Richard Schaefer and Al Haymon spent a long period of time trying to convince Mayweather to take the offer, but Mayweather rejected.

Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s advisor, claimed that Pacquiao was willing to budge on the testing. Rather than a 30 day cut-off, they were willing to come down to 24 days prior to the fight as supervised by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. They proposed the new cut-off date to Mayweather and he rejected the offer, thereby killing the fight.

Mayweather disputed those claims. He claimed that before the mediation even began, his team proposed a “14-day, no blood testing window leading up to the fight” that was ultimately rejected by Pacquiao’s camp. Mayweather stated that he was still open to the 14 day cut-off limit, although it was a compromise on his behalf and he stood firm on the belief that Pacquiao simply didn’t want to fight.

Upon hearing the fight was declared dead, Mayweather had a statement to make:

“Throughout the whole process I have remained patient but at this point I am thoroughly disgusted that Pacquiao and his representatives are trying to blame me for the fight not happening when clearly the blame is on them. First and foremost, not only do I want to fight Manny Pacquiao, I want to whip his punk ass.”

But just like that, the talking was done and the fight was dead. The two would leave the table for good. Arum arranged for a spring date with Joshua Clottey while Mayweather faced Shane Mosley.

***

 “I know what he’s got in his system.” – Roger Mayweather

 To be continued..

The Floyd & Manny Saga: Chapter 1

Two of boxing’s most beloved figures, one a congressman fighting for a nation, while the other a showman, amassing his personal fortune; together they created the ultimate good vs evil drama. The polarizing kind that would take over the sporting world. Three million Americans were predicted to purchase the live broadcast and invite over everyone they’re close with to witness the ultimate spectacle. Las Vegas, and essentially every person standing to make a profit, saw nothing but dollar signs from the perhaps the most lucrative prizefight in the history of organized fighting.

But ultimately, no amount of greed, personal pride, or a sheer will to fight could place the 2 in a ring for 45 minutes.

This is the story of the richest prizefight in history to never happen.

The saga begins in 2001. The setting is San Francisco, California. It was the first time in nearly 40 years that professional title prizefighting would take the stage in San Francisco; and for a brief moment in time, Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao, separated officially by 8 pounds, would share the same ring. On November 10th, 2001 Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather competed on HBO under the Top Rank banner.

While Floyd Mayweather, a former bronze medalist in 1996, was already something of a big deal, Manny Pacquiao was on his way to super stardom He and Agapito Sanchez thrilled the crowd in a bloody, all-out brawl.

The two were victorious that night and would go their separate ways, on different paths, but ultimately their destination would be the same.

Five years later, Manny Pacquiao had become a sensation. He was blitzing through whoever was put in his path. The one set-back being Erik Morales. In their rematch, which Pacquiao assured he would win given he got to wear his favorite gloves, he got his revenge. But the intrigue of the fight wasn’t that Pacquiao had avenged his loss to Morales. It was a fan he had at ringside who stood on his chair when referee Kenny Bayless stopped the fight. (Watch the bottom right corner of your screen.) That fan was Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Ten months later would be the first time any sort of fantasy match-up between the Filipino slugger and defensive mastermind would be pondered.

At the time, it seemed farfetched that the two would eventually be able to meet. It seemed as unlikely as a fight between Nonito Donaire & Danny Garcia seems. Floyd was already a welterweight weighing 147 officially, while Manny still campaigning at the 130 super featherweight limit.

We’re going to fast forward now. To 2008 specifically.

Following the retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr, the then pay-per-view king of boxing, Oscar De La Hoya, was looking for his next opponent. While Pacquiao had the option to fight Humberto Soto at a more comfortable weight, a lucrative fight with De La Hoya was far more attractive. The only speed bump was the split. Pacquiao, at the time, demanded a 65-35 split with the Golden Boy. Oscar and Golden Boy President Richard Schaefer declined, citing Mayweather got 30 percent and they didn’t believe Manny was a bigger draw than Floyd. They eventually made an agreement and the dubbed “Dream Fight” proceeded.

Unfortunately for De La Hoya, the offensive output in the fight was even more lopsided than the purse split. Pacquiao dominated De La Hoya from start to finish and immediately following the fight, the whispers around Mayweather and Pacquiao became a mighty cry.

Comparing Mayweather and Pacquiao’s performance over De La Hoya, fans & experts wondered, argued, bickered, and everything else about how the two would do against each other.

Floyd Senior had an opinion of his own. While many fans believed the relentless Pacquiao would break down Floyd’s defensive fortress, Floyd Sr believed there was no way the Filipino could “whoop Lil’ Floyd.”

Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, stated that the Pacquiao’s commitment first and foremost was to pursue the exciting fights. Thus, old Mayweather victim Ricky Hatton would be their next target.

On May 2nd, they would get their wish. In the second round, Pacquiao would connect with a devastating left hand that would floor Hatton in brutal fashion. While Pacquiao had just scored the knockout of the decade, he had to share center stage that night.

Prior to the MGM Grand Garden Arena being filled with crazed Filipinos and British fight fanatics, Floyd Mayweather took the fight world over. Mayweather held a press conference that morning to announce that 16 months was enough of a retirement for him and he would be meeting former Pacquiao foe, Juan Manuel Marquez, in a few months time. He also had an implicit message for Pacquiao, “A big, great fighter always beats a small, good fighter.”

Freddie Roach, hearing the comments was quick to respond. “Floyd is afraid of Manny. If he had waited 24 hours, we could have made a fight with him right away.”

And so it began. With Pacquiao defeating 2 old Mayweather foes in brutal fashion, and Mayweather about to take on one of Pacquiao’s old foes, everything was set.

Days before Mayweather was set to take on Juan Manuel Marquez, he sat down for a lengthy interview with his trainer and Richard Schaefer. The allure of Mayweather-Pacquiao was evident as a large portion of the interview was dedicated to the discussion of the potential fight. Mayweather began by stating that Pacquiao’s success against common opponents was from weight draining and a blueprint he had created. When the subject of Marquez came up, Floyd became defensive. He asked questions to the interviewer like “Where was this guy when I was dominating in the ‘90s?” and ‘they [the fans] don’t want to see Mayweather-Marquez but it’s okay for Marquez and Pacquiao to fight. If it’s okay for Pacquiao to fight every other welterweight but then there’s a problem for Marquez to do it and both these guys are the same size. Actually Marquez is a bit bigger than Pacquiao. So I don’t really understand, like I said before, a lot of times, people speak on boxing and don’t really understand boxing or really know boxing.”

When the conversation shifted, it would ultimately find its way back to the subject of Pacquiao.

The interviewer asked Floyd about his perfect record and the importance of maintaining it for the duration of his career. Floyd’s answer included Pacquiao.

“…when Floyd Mayweather is facing these fighters today… there’s no pressure on any of these fighters because they have nothing to lose. If Marquez gets beat….they are still going to love him in this country because he had a chance to face the best. And they’ll say well you lost but you lost to the best. And that’s no difference from Pacquiao. I mean if I fought Pacquiao, if he were losing and then lost, when he goes back to his country they are still going to love him.”

The interviewer then asks Floyd if he would feel like there’s unfinished business if the fight with Pacquiao never happened?

Floyd’s answer: No. Absolutely not. I’ve done what I had to do in this sport of boxing. Whatever fight presents itself, I’m fine with that.

One month removed for Floyd’s lopsided victory of Marquez, his uncle and trainer Roger Mayweather found himself in legal trouble. An arrest warrant had been issued on allegations of battery and coercion charges following his alleged assault of female boxer Melissa St. Vil.

Later that month, just a couple weeks before facing Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto, Pacquiao spoke very candidly regarding his future. He claimed that he didn’t think the fight with Mayweather would ever happen. In fact, he said, “I’m sure he doesn’t want to fight me.” Pacquiao raised his left hand and stated that the power in his left hand no doubt has Mayweather fearing a date with him.

He ultimately said that Floyd sees boxing as a business. That Floyd doesn’t care about entertainment value or pleasing his opponents. As long as Floyd makes money, according to Pacquiao, Floyd is happy. Pacquiao took a contrarian stance, citing that his ultimate goal was to have people be happy and entertained by a good fight.

Mayweather’s camp at this point has made it clear. Following a million buys against Marquez, he would be the one to demand the lion’s share of the prize should a fight with Pacquiao arise.

Two days after Pacquiao ravaged Miguel Cotto, Freddie Roach told ESPN.com that a fight with Mayweather had been on his mind for a long time. He praised the defensive mastermind, but given the recent performance of his pupil against Cotto, he no longer thought Mayweather could withstand the Pacquiao onslaught.

But Roach wasn’t optimistic. Floyd and his camp had already stated that they wanted 65% of the purse and Roach believed that it was simply another way of saying they don’t want the fight.

Floyd disagreed with Roach. He believed Pacquiao was one-dimensional with a solid punch. Floyd said, “”I’m in a no-win situation. If I beat Manny Pacquiao you know what they are going to say? ‘You are supposed to beat him, you are Floyd Mayweather, you are the bigger man.’ If I knock him out they’ll say, ‘You’re supposed to knock him out [because] he’s been knocked out before.’ I’m in a no-win situation and when I beat him no one is going to be surprised because he’s been beaten before. Whatever I do to Pacquiao has been done before. He’s been beaten on three occasions. And if I knock him out I don’t want the world shouting because he’s been knocked out twice before as a flyweight in the 1990s.”

Roach wasn’t convinced. He claimed that Floyd’s close call against Oscar De La Hoya and Jose Luis Castillo was enough to show Floyd wasn’t invincible. He was confident given that Jose Luis Castillo was one of the main sparring partners Pacquiao had utilized to prepare for Miguel Cotto and he confessed to Roach that Pacquiao was faster and hit harder than Mayweather.

Despite the lack of optimism from both camps, March 13th stood as the potential date of the boxing Super Bowl.

Roach had already begun plans for the next round of sparring partners and a new gameplan for a Mayweather fight.

Vegas had already begun taking bets, with Pacquiao opening as an 8-5 favorite by Station Casinos. Following several $20,000 bets, the line moved down to 7-5.

Vegas saw the potential profits from the monumental event and the promoters and networks eyes began to open to the pocket lining prospect.

Ross Greenburg, HBO Sports president, believed it was a simple negotiation. With all the money to be made, the possibility of the fight not happening would cause revolt among the American public.

Richard Schaefer shared the same sentiments. He told the LA Times, “Bob and me – how often have we failed to make a big fight?”
Arum believed that the negotiation would not hinge upon personal feelings shared between him and Mayweather. Mayweather had left Arum’s stable years earlier believing that Arum had shafted him and not given him an opportunity to be a star like he had given De La Hoya.

Ross Greenburg believed that all that was required was for both sides to sit together and work it out. He believed 50-50 would be the easiest thing. But with Pacquiao’s camp nearly driving Hatton from the table with his constant demands for more money, it seemed that greed between the 2 camps would stop the fight before it even got started.

Schaefer concluded with very wise words. “Getting them together is a mega-fight that has to be made. We’d all have to be morons to not let this happen.”

Opportunity Rings Twice For Bradley

Following a win over Manny Pacquiao, the most adored boxing figure since Oscar de la Hoya, Tim Bradley should have been thrust into the pound-for-pound conversation, given career high paydays, and had a Nike campaign just for him. Unfortunately, due to incompetent judging, defeating the Filipino made Bradley public enemy number two (behind Clayton Kershaw’s curveball). To many boxing fans, he was undeserving of the WBO title or the distinction of having been the first to beat Pacquiao in a long time (or since the 2nd Marquez fight.) The most passionate of haters sent death threats. Most boxing publications dropped him off their few pound-for-pound lists.

Now, a lot of this was his own fault. Instead of saying that he thought the fight was close and that he wanted a rematch to settle the score, Tim instead wholeheartedly agreed with the decision of the judges and made excuses for his lackluster performance. And predictably, the boxing world destroyed him. You could even make the argument that they punished him. 

Bradley’s respect in the boxing world was all but lost. The career high payday he received against Pacquiao became an anomaly in his career. Then,  in his next fight against another Freddie Roach fighter, Bradley did the unthinkable. He went toe-to-toe with all-action fighter Ruslan Provodnikov and fought his ass off. It reestablished his respect in the boxing world to all but the most stubborn. Bradley went out and decided to prove his detractors wrong with an all-action, highly dramatic slugfest where he displayed all of the tools he brought to the table and did what he had to do to earn a victory. Bradley fought while out on his feet and didn’t go down until the 12th round moments before the final bell. Bradley and Provodnikov managed to steal the spotlight from Rios-Alvarado II, a feat damn near impossible. If this fight didn’t get your respect from Bradley, I don’t know what will.

Prior to his January 2011 fight with Devon Alexander, they both shared the throne atop the junior welterweight division. Then there was Amir Khan. Bradley got a lot of criticism for “ducking” Khan. Khan’s speed and length could have given Bradley some trouble, but Bradley’s mauling, intense stand-and-trade style would have certainly stopped Khan in his tracks. Bradley, in hindsight, would have probably beaten Khan in a similar style as Garcia. You can’t fault Bradley for not taking the Khan fight. His issues with Gary Shaw, then promoter, were still to be uncovered and his signing with Top Rank led him to be fast tracked to a much more lucrative fight with Manny Pacquiao.

Bradley will never get to go back in time and erase the Pacquiao fight and the decision that night. But he can make us all forget. Winning tends to be the great catalyst for forgiveness.

The question is, can he get past Marquez? Marquez, with his newfound one-punch KO power, is a game-changer. Marquez, pre-Pacquiao IV, might have had no chance against Bradley. Styles may make fights, but power is the equalizer. With one punch, the course of Bradley and Marquez’s career could be altered. Marquez, who has already got his space in the hall of fame reserved, can push himself into a higher pantheon of boxing legends.

Bradley’s victory will depend on the rhythm in which he sets, and conversely, doesn’t allow Marquez to set. In Marquez’s fights where he hasn’t done well, he has always been out of rhythm. He was forced to fight his opponents fight. Pacquiao blitzed through Marquez early because Marquez was not ready for the frantic pace. Mayweather slowed it down and made Marquez lead, leading to a knock down and wide decision victory. Bradley’s jab, supreme conditioning, and patience could be the keys to victory. This is perhaps the most interesting fight of the year and if both fighters bring their A game (and father time gets lost on his way to the Marquez residence yet again) we’re in for a real treat. It may be Marquez’s last big fight in his hall of fame career.

Should Bradley get past Marquez, there only leaves one thing left in his legacy to accomplish. Some may say two, but it’s really one. That thing is a fight with Floyd Mayweather. Ignoring everything that stands in the way of these two meeting, a fight between them would be the biggest fight between two American fighters since Mayweather-De La Hoya. If the fight were made and Bradley were to pull out a victory, where would Bradley rank all-time? He would hold the distinction of beating 3 top 5 pound-for-pound fighters in the span of a few years. Few have ever been able to say they’ve beaten multiple pound-for-pound contenders and those that can are in the conversation of greatest of all time.

Or maybe, Bradley is just a good fighter who got a lucky decision against a great fighter. Maybe he will be just another guy who got his 15 minutes and left just as quickly as he came. Judging by the eyeball test, I don’t believe that’s the case. Bradley, like Danny Garcia, strikes me as the kind of fighter who does what he needs to do to win. There isn’t any way you can really explain it other than you just know. Saturday, we’ll find out if Timothy Bradley takes another step toward greatness.

The Identity Crisis of Miguel Cotto

On December 2nd, 2006, Miguel Cotto made his debut in the welterweight division against fellow unbeaten Puerto Rican, Carlos Quintana. Entering the fight, Cotto was exciting in the ring and carried with him an aura of dignity. Watching him, you saw a man who didn’t move so much as stalk. His power jab and left hook to the body became two of the deadliest weapons in the sport. As deadly as his weapons were, he was also vulnerable. This created a formula for drama making his fights must watch TV.

That night Cotto would out duel Quintana and stand alone as the Puerto Rican face of boxing, the heir to Felix Trinidad. 

 For the next year and a half, the welterweight division got to see what all the commotion was in the junior welterweight division. 

Then on July 26, 2008 Miguel Cotto fought Antonio Margarito. The events of that bout have been covered extensively. The important thing to know is that at this point Miguel Cotto, who could bang with the bangers and box with the boxers, believed exactly that. Cotto was confident in who he was, what he was capable of, and that he was able to do whatever was necessary to win. After all, he was undefeated.

That night Antonio Margarito prepared in his dressing room while Cotto did in his. Cotto sat while his hands were wrapped and was assured by his uncle, Evangelista, that Margarito’s hands were being wrapped just the same as his were. There was nothing to worry about, nothing to overlook, this would be a fair fight between 2 warriors.

Miguel Cotto entered the ring and boxed brilliantly for 5 rounds. He was the Miguel Cotto he had always been. He put his full arsenal on display and the fans at Madison Square Garden ate it up. 

And then Margarito began to break through Cotto’s guard. He began to build momentum. Slow and steady as Cotto continued to work, Margarito kept getting stronger. Cotto, like any human, began to fade and collapse under the building pressure.

We’ll never know what was in Margarito’s gloves, but in the eyes of the only person who matters, Cotto was betrayed. Betrayed by his opponent who he believed took an unfair advantage to not only beat him, but to threaten his life. Betrayed by his uncle who trained him and whom he trusted to keep him safe with both a game plan and supervision. The trust of that relationship was compromised.

Evangelista would hang on for a couple more fights before ultimately being dismissed before Cotto fought Manny Pacquiao. We would never see Cotto’s uncle in his camp again. It could be asserted that Cotto blamed his uncle for the loss, for the damage sustained to him that night, and for the lost future he could have had. We may never know how Cotto really felt toward his uncle that night, but it’s a likely story any person could have.

On that July night against Antonio Margarito, the old Cotto died. Cotto got a taste of his mortality and put a reminder in his head to recall for future nights. From here on out, Cotto would set out to never sustain the punishment he felt that night. And thus, he faced a new problem. What was wrong with how he boxed given that he suffered his first defeat?

He went to work to solve the problem. We saw trainers come and go. A young, inexperienced Joe Santiago would be his coach for the Pacquiao fight. Armed with a college degree in something sports-related, it’s believed that Cotto was the real person in charge of the camp. Presumably because he was truly the only one he could trust regarding his career, his future, and his health. The decision would be costly as he suffered another punishing loss.

Next he brought in Emmanuel Steward. The legendary trainer who had rebuilt Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko following devastating losses. Steward noted Cotto’s poor footwork and attempted to rebuild Cotto into a boxer-puncher who wouldn’t expose himself to danger. 

Even though Cotto won a couple of fights under Steward, he never looked like he truly felt comfortable or enjoyed the success. Something was still missing. He left Steward following an underwhelming March 2011 fight with Ricardo Mayorga.

He moved onto the former coach of the acclaimed Cuban national team, Pedro Diaz. Diaz brought in a game plan for Cotto to be a boxer, a mover who scored points like the Cuban amateurs he had trained.

Cotto again had success. He stopped Antonio Margarito in a sweet revenge match. 

But the Diaz partnership would be short lived. Following his impressive lost to Floyd Mayweather, he chose a fight with a slick southpaw giving up a reach and height advantage. A costly mistake. Diaz’s gameplan to bully Austin Trout would backfire in a lopsided loss.

Cotto was at a crossroads. He’d never lost 2 straight fights in his career. He was younger than his contemporaries (Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather) and yet was the first one to face the question of whether or not the end had arrived.

And now Cotto once again went to the bullpen. This time calling upon another Hall of Fame trainer. Freddie Roach, the man who concocted a brilliant plan for Manny Pacquiao to batter Cotto for 11 rounds was now the man who held the key to Cotto’s boxing future.

And the result of his hard work with Freddie Roach yielded an interesting result. This past Saturday, we didn’t see a new Miguel Cotto. We saw the old Cotto. The stalking, body snatching Cotto. Was Freddie Roach the only trainer to figure out the real problem?

It seemed Cotto was simply suffering from an identity crisis. There was nothing wrong other than a lack of confidence. Following his loss to Margarito, Cotto went away from who he was and what made him successful in order to avoid repeating the past. He placed his old repertoire on the shelf hoping trainers could give him a safer toolset to reach the heights he once attained.

And it now appears that all Freddie Roach did was remind him who he is. Maybe there wasn’t anything wrong with Cotto in the first place. I mean, we didn’t see anything new from Miguel Cotto. He didn’t have a new stance or throw any new punches. Perhaps, all Roach did was rebuild his confidence and got Cotto to believe that he is still the man who electrified Madison Square Garden. He was the man who dug deep against Ricardo Lopez and scored a sensational knockout. He was still the predator in the ring that could destroy you with a left hook to the body.

It’s rare in the sport where the ultimate goal is to punish your opponent that a storybook ending exists, but throughout Miguel Cotto’s career he’s conducted himself with dignity. Amidst the sea of villains in boxing, Miguel Cotto for his entire career has been a rare protagonist in the sport. He’s the kind of guy who makes it easy to root for him. Cotto has had a storybook career thus far. He’s the hero who’s gone through adversity, and fallen to perhaps his lowest point.

And now, he’s met the guide who has returned him to his roots and revitalized his passion for the sport. Is it all to set up perhaps his final encounter to finish the story book ending? Maybe the final obstacle is Sergio Martinez, the middleweight king, or Canelo Alvarez.