Miguel Cotto won the middleweight championship belt but he refuses to pay to keep it.
The World Boxing Council stripped the lineal champion of his title just days before his Saturday night superfight with Canelo Alvarez. The WBC obliquely references contractual “conditions,” “rules,” and “regulations” that Cotto refuses to obey. They nowhere mention the specific reason: Cotto’s unwillingness to pay the WBC $300,000 for the privilege of defending its green belt.
“After several weeks of communications, countless attempts and good faith time extensions trying to preserve the fight as a WBC World Championship, Miguel Cotto and his promotion did not agree to comply with the WBC Rules & Regulations, while Saúl Alvarez has agreed to do so,” the Mexico City-based promotion announced in a press release. “Accordingly, the WBC must rule on the matter prior to the fight. The WBC hereby announces that effective immediately has withdrawn recognition of Miguel Cotto as WBC World Middleweight Champion. If Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez wins the fight against Cotto, he will be recognized as the WBC middleweight world champion.”
Cotto reportedly paid the WBC a step-aside fee for its #1 contender Gennady Golovkin and his promoter, Jay-Z, already gave the WBC $25,000. Pressed for additional money, Cotto essentially told the WBC: “No mas.”
Cotto won the lineal middleweight championship in a demolition of Sergio Martinez at Madison Square Garden on the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day Parade last year. The alphabet soup sanctioning body’s move to strip him of the title does nothing to cut the line extending from Cotto back through Bernard Hopkins, Marvin Hagler, Carlos Monzon, Sugar Ray Robinson, Tony Zale, and other legitimate, the-man-who-beat-the-man champions.
The WBC vacancy further confuses matters for middleweights. Not only does the lineal champion no longer hold a belt, but the man most dub the best fighter in the division, if not in all of boxing, Gennady Golovkin, can’t seem to land a fight with Cotto, Alvarez, Andy Lee, or anyone else worth fighting around 160 pounds. Boxing happens.
The WBC repeatedly favored Don King-promoted fighters for decades, stripping Leon Spinks of his heavyweight belt, for instance, when he agreed to a rematch with Muhammad Ali rather than fight the King-promoted Ken Norton, who had recently lost to Ali. The WBC initially refused to recognize Buster Douglas after he knocked out Mike Tyson as the heavyweight champion at the behest of King but quickly relented due to public outcry. King, 84, no longer holds much sway in boxing circles but the WBC continues to raise eyebrows. Despite its reputation, the sanctioning organization maintains: “The WBC stands by its honorability and will not participate in the abuse of power and greediness, which has taken our boxing world to regrettable actions from different parties.”