By Rick Reeno
LAS VEGAS - According to World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman, it was Miguel Cotto's decision to be derecognized as their middleweight champion.
Cotto and the sanctioning body were unable to reach an agreement on the sanctioning fee for this Saturday's fight, when the Puerto Rican star takes on Mexico's Saul "Canelo" Alvarez at the Mandalay Bay.
As part of the agreement with the WBC, Cotto was obligated to pay mandatory challenger Gennady "GGG" Golovkin a step-aside fee of $800,000. While Cotto agreed to pay the step-aside, he refused to meet the WBC's demand of $300,000 to sanction the fight with Canelo. He offered $125,000 - which the WBC rejected.
"I don't need a belt to fight Canelo. I keep $1.1 million in my banking account, it's better for me," Cotto said.
"We're having so much problems right now, in these days, with boxing organizations, because they make too many champions in one division. And then every guy believes they have the right to face the champion right now, like Golovkin, and I have to pay him $800,000 bucks just to move away to make the fight with Canelo. It's not fair for me. It's not fair to the boxing. It's not fair for us as the boxer and it's not fair for the fans."
Sulaiman says the step-aside fee has nothing to do with the WBC, that Cotto's team and Golovkin's promoter, Tom Loeffler of K2, worked out the details of that arraignment.
"He's a very dear friend of mine. The step aside agreement that he signed, and his company signed with K2., has a confidentiality agreement so anything contained in such a document I can not discuss. The sanctioning fees are clear, they are in the rules. They are posted on the website, it's 3% of the fighter's total income. Since this is such a huge fight, the WBC decided to cap this amount to $300,000 - which is much less than 3% of what Cotto and Canelo will make," Sulaiman told BoxingScene.com.
"The WBC, for two years, participated the process for the WBC to make Cotto-Canelo in many ways - including helping step-aside agreement reached with Marco Antonio Rubio so Cotto could fight Martinez. So that same rule that applied and helped him become champion, is being questioned by himself."
"He is the only who decided not to abide by the WBC's rules, regulations and conditions. He is the one who decided to abandon the title. We did not take any action. We gave him time, flexibility. We extended the deadline four times. I communicated many, many times with him, with his promoter, with Canelo on this subject. It is all on record. I just feel very, very sad because losing a champion is very uncommon."
Cotto claims that he advised the WBC of his position on the matter several months ago, and Sulauman waited until the last minute to press him on the money - a series of events which Sulaiman firmly denies.
"That is completely inaccurate and false, and what I would say is for Miguel to talk to his team and his promotion. We are a non-profit organization, this is not about money, this is about principle, the WBC is not collecting a large amount of fees, this is not about," Sulaiman said.