LAS VEGAS -- As often as Floyd Mayweather Jr. has taken on and beaten some big names in his career -- from Genaro Hernandez to Diego Corrales to Oscar De La Hoya -- critics have continued to point to the ones that got away: Kostya Tszyu, Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto. All of them are, it is argued, opponents Mayweather could have taken on but chose not to.
Speaking with reporters this week, Mayweather and adviser Leonard Ellerbe placed the blame for most of those fights not occurring on Mayweather's former promoter Bob Arum, and explained their side of why a clash with Cotto in particular never took place.
"I was trying to fight these guys," Mayweather said. "I was calling all these guys out. I was asking for these guys a long time ago. If I couldn't get 'em, I couldn't get 'em."
Cotto used to be at the Top Rank gym every day, according to Mayweather. ("He was a fan," said Ellerbe. "He was always very respectful.")
"The Cotto fight never happened," Mayweather said, "because Arum was like, 'De La Hoya has gone, Mayweather's done a couple fights with another promoter, I don't know if he's gonna be with me that much longer. So before I let him beat my fighter and leave, I'd rather not let that fight happen."
"We asked for that fight," Ellerbe added. "Me and Floyd both sat in Bob's office and asked for that fight when we were with him. They would never let us anywhere near him."
"No, it's not that," corrected Mayweather. "We asked for the fight and they said OK, but first they used [Henry] Bruseles -- he had the same style, from the same stable -- as a test." ("A crash dummy," in Ellerbe's description.)
"[They said] we'll see how this fight is gonna play out," Mayweather said. "They did, and they said, 'No' [after Mayweather dominated Bruseles and stopped him in the eighth round in January 2005]."
Mayweather has no beef with Cotto -- "I've got nothing but respect for what Cotto has done with his career," he said -- but bristles at the notion that he has ducked him, or any other fighter, for that matter.
Cotto has "always been Todd's personal pet project, coming up through the ranks," said Ellerbe, referring to Top Rank president Todd duBoef. "They would never, never put Cotto nowhere near Floyd. Then, after Floyd became his own boss and he's generating all these record revenues, then all of a sudden when he wins a fight, that's when they start saying, 'Oh, he was afraid of the bogeyman.'"
"When I was with Top Rank, I was the best fighter they ever had," Mayweather said. "That's the [nonsense] Arum feeds everybody. If Arum is paying you all, please let me know. So we got Bob Arum, when I'm with him, he says, 'Ain't nobody can ever beat this fighter. He's the best I ever had.' Right? But then when I left and I become my own boss, suddenly it's, 'He's scared of Antonio Margarito.' All the fighters they say I'm scared of are Arum fighters."