A pretty fair middleweight tangle should unfold on Saturday night in Brooklyn, but the main topic of conversation at the press conference in Manhattan days out from the clash between Miguel Cotto and Aussie challenger Daniel Geale was the “catch weight” clause in the contract between the two pugilists.
Cotto holds the WBC 160 pound belt, which he wrested from Sergio Martinez last summer. But he's “requested” that Geale hit the scale Friday as a sub-middleweight, that the 31-3 hitter adhere to a 157 pounds or less limit.
Geale, a soft spoken, most unfailingly polite sort, told the media he is OK with that, but his promoter wasn't as accepting. Gary Shaw took pains to tell Cotto he respects the heck out of him, and his career, and his legacy—but catchweight fights shouldn't be in play for title fights, he stated.
Cotto told the press that he had to play the catchweight game a few years ago, when he faced off with Manny Pacquiao. That “welterweight” clash in 2009 was set for a 145 pounds or less limit, and no one really squawked and he didn't make waves, he told us.
His current trainer, “Dedham” Freddie Roach, was in Manny's corner that night, the 35-in-October-year-old Puerto Rican icon said.
Shaw told me that there are no “teeth” in the contract, that there is no penalty called for if Geale, the 34-year-old who held the IBF 160 strap in 2011-2013, doesn't make 157. The plan is for Geale to honor what amounts to a gentleman's agreement…though, Shaw said, it was made clear to him that Cotto reserves the right to call off the fight if Geale doesn't make 157. That, I dare say, would not be in the cards, so I guess we will cross that bridge if we come to it, which we hopefully won't.
Roc Nation, which signed Cotto to a mega-million deal, beating out long-time promoter Top Rank for his services, is promoting the Saturday card. HBO will show the main event.
There is a tentative working plan, if all goes according to the Cotto plan, for Miguel to meet up with Mexican hitter Canelo Alvarez in the fall, on a pay-per-view scrum, should Cotto best Geale. So, there were questions to Cotto about Canelo, and also about future potential foe Gennady Golovkin, who holds some other 160 pound crowns, and will be in Brooklyn Saturday, to scope out Cotto. He is pressing hard for the Puerto Rican to step to the line, and accept the challenge. Patience, Cotto has advised; those mega-fights fan crave will occur but on his time frame, he noted. And, it was implied, on his terms. He's the A side, to the A minus sides Canelo and Golovkin…as for Geale, he seems to get everyone is seeing him as a B-guy…but he stared down Cotto hard at the photo face-off at BB Kings, and nothing in his face suggested he didn't think he'd have his hand raised come Saturday night, no matter what he's tasked to weigh in Friday.
Here is the release which went out after the presser:
MIGUEL COTTO VS. DANIEL GEALE
FINAL PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
WBC & RING MAGAZINE MIDDLEWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPION COTTO
TO FACE FORMER TWO-TIME WORLD CHAMPION GEALE
ON JUNE 6, 2015 AT BARCLAYS CENTER IN BROOKLYN LIVE ON HBO®
PRESENTED BY ROC NATION SPORTS + MIGUEL COTTO PROMOTIONS
NEW YORK (June 3, 2015) -Roc Nation Sports and Miguel Cotto Promotions hosted the final press conference for the June 6 showdown between WBC and Ring Magazine Middleweight World Champion Miguel Cotto and former Two-Time World Champion Daniel Geale on Tuesday, June 2 at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City. Along with the main event participants, undercard fighters Junior Younan and Zhang Zhilei were also in attendance. Other speakers included Michael Yormark (President & Chief of Branding and Strategy of Roc Nation), Hector Soto (Miguel Cotto Promotions), Freddie Roach (Cotto’s Trainer), Gary Shaw (Gary Shaw Productions), Graham Shaw (Geale’s Trainer), Brett Yormark (CEO of Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets), Peter Nelson (VP HBO Sports Programming), David Berlin (Executive Director of the New York State Athletic Commission) and Ululy Martinez (Vice Chairman of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Board of Directors). The press conference was emceed by Brooklyn Nets Public Address Announcer David Diamante.
Here’s what press conference participants had to say:
Miguel Cotto – WBC & Ring Magazine Middleweight World Champion
“I want to thank my lovely family for being here with my. My kids, my wife, my lovely mom. Thank you for always supporting my career no matter how hard it seems or looks to you. I love you.”
“I think that people are making a big issue where there does not need to be a big issue with catch weights. Freddie, back in 2009, made me go down from 147 to 145. Did anyone hear anything about Miguel Cotto disagreeing with the catch weights? No, I was a gentlemen the whole way. Catch weights were our main point to make this fight happen. Daniel and his team agreed to going down to 157 and I hope he can make weight on Friday. I hope to see everyone there on Saturday night.”
“Freddie brings the confidence back to Miguel. He comes every day no matter what he feels and gives his best to me. When you have this kind of person in front of you giving you his best and making sure that you are going to do your best, the only way you can pay him back is bringing your best too. We only talk about boxing when we are in the gym. He’s my trainer there, but as soon as we finish our training session, he’s my friend.”
Daniel Geale – Former Two-Time World Champion
“This is a huge opportunity and I’m very excited. We’re so excited as a team that this fight is taking place. We’ve put a great training camp in for this fight and I’m feeling as good as I ever have. There’s no excuses. I’m going in as the best fighter I can possibly be. I’m hoping Miguel Cotto is the best fighter he can be as well. I want the fans to enjoy a great fight and I believe it will be a great fight. I can’t wait to walk away with another title. I’m going in very confident and I know a lot of people aren’t giving me much of a chance, but I have a huge amount of confidence in myself knowing I’ve completed a great training camp. Knowing that I have put everything that I possibly can into it and knowing that I have such a great team. I look forward to Saturday night.”
Freddie Roach – Cotto’s Trainer
“We’ve had a great training camp. Miguel is in great shape. Our sparring partners on our team have been great. And we’re ready for this fight. Gary’s been making a big deal about catch weights, but they have been around for a long time and he knows how to read a contract and he’s had that contract for a long time now, so I don’t think that’s an issue. We look forward to seeing you at the fight.”
Michael Yormark – President & Chief of Branding and Strategy of Roc Nation
“Led by our Chairman JAY Z and his partners, Roc Nation was founded to work with artists and entertainers to guide them and help them build their careers even beyond the boundaries of the music industry. It is fitting then, that today we stand in a setting named for the legendary BB King – may he rest in peace – an artist and a man that knew no boundaries during a career that transcended his art. In a few short years, Roc Nation itself has expanded beyond the world of music, diversifying in a way that many never thought possible. Today we begin to celebrate a landmark in that expansion, as another legend, World Champion Miguel Cotto, prepares to headline Roc Nation’s first major fight on Saturday night against Daniel Geale, live at Barclays Center and on HBO.”
“When Roc Nation founded its boxing division less than a year ago, we committed to doing things differently, and what you will see on Saturday night will be different. The eyes of the boxing world will be fixed on Barclays Center on Saturday, with celebrities and VIP’s lining the ring and a captivated audience watching at home. They will watch with anticipation, awaiting not only a masterful performance from the champion Miguel Cotto against a formidable opponent, but also an electric appearance from Roc Nation artist and hip-hop superstar Big Sean, as well as the voice of New York Angie Martinez, and a host of other surprises that will make this live boxing experience different from anything you’ve ever seen before.”
“Saturday is the start of something new and fresh for the boxing industry. It is a chance for all of us to show boxing fans, and sports and entertainment fans around the world, that the action on fight night can and will live up to the hype.”
Hector Soto – Miguel Cotto Promotions
“It has been several months of hard work and dedication. Puerto Rico will shine again on the night of June 6 when Miguel Cotto defends his titles successfully.”
Ululy Rafael Martinez – Puerto Rican Day Parade
“We’re really happy this year to formalize a relationship with Miguel Cotto thanks to Roc Nation Sports and Miguel Cotto Promotions. I also want to thank Roc Nation Sports and Miguel Cotto Promotions for contributing to our scholarship fund. They are helping us empower young high school students and college students we provide scholarships to so they can further their education. I’m encouraging everyone planning on coming to the Parade on June 14 to support our man Miguel Cotto On Saturday, June 6 at Barclays Center for the boxing match of the year.”
David Berlin – New York Athletic Commission
“Miguel Cotto and Daniel Geale represent the best in boxing. These are men that carry themselves with dignity both inside and outside the ring. Men who can be respectful because they don’t have to prove themselves with words. Where they prove themselves each and every time they fight is inside that ring.”
“Now that I am with the commission, I no longer root for fighters. I’m in a neutral role, but I do root for fights. I root for fights when fighters come into the ring and they fight hard but they leave the ring safely. I root for fights that satisfy the fans and fights where the right man has his hand raised at the end. That of course is where the New York State Athletic Commission comes in.
“This promises to be a competitive fight. Obviously a competitive fight means it’s a hard night for judges, but what I’m committing to the fighters and fans is that we are going to have competent, qualified and neutral officials in place and the right man is going to have his hand raised at the end of the fight. I wish both men good luck on Saturday night.”
Brett Yormark – CEO of Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets
“We’re expecting a great night on Saturday night. So, hopefully we see all of you. Tickets are still on sale. Saturday night represents our 13th night of championship boxing at Barclays Center since we opened the building 32 months ago and boxing plays a huge role in what we do in Brooklyn.”
Peter Nelson – Vice President, Programming, HBO Sports
“We look forward to two fighters who have always rose to every challenge that has been put in front of them. Daniel Geale had a lucrative opportunity at one point in time to make his HBO debut and he actually decided instead to go to Germany, to Felix Sturm’s backyard, fight him for his world titles and ended up lifting the titles away from him. He is naturally the largest opponent that Miguel Cotto has ever fought and he’s stepped up to every challenge that’s ever been put in front of him.”
“Miguel Cotto…the last time he stepped into the ring, he entered it an underdog and he ended up leaving it the lineal middleweight champion. He joined just a handful of fighters ever to win four world titles in four separate divisions and he was the first man from Puerto Rico ever to do so. He performed what I saw as one of the strangest punches ever in boxing when he touched a man on the temple and it caused his knee to twist into a knot. I’ve never seen that happen. It was an extraordinary performance.”
“We look to see in this fight, fighters who are going to give us moments of great bravery and great courage. These are the kind of men we want to have on the network. That’s what makes great fights.”
Gary Shaw – Gary Shaw Productions
“I have a personal problem with catch weights. We accepted the catch weight of 157 and I’m not here to complain about the catch weight. We’re going to make the weight. It’s going to be tough. I believe that if a fighter wants to fight at any weight that he wants to fight at, he has that opportunity, but he shouldn’t stop the opponent from fighting at the sanctioned weight which in this case is 160.”
“I believe Daniel Geale is going to win the fight. I believe that Miguel and his team made a mistake. If they were looking at the Golovkin fight, thinking that’s the Daniel that is going to come into the ring…it will not be that same Daniel Geale.”
“It’s truly an honor to represent Daniel Geale because he’s a different young man. The first time I met him, I flew to Germany. I looked around and I couldn’t identify Daniel Geale. Little did I know, he was standing against the back wall. After taking my seat at the dais, Daniel Geale walked up. I looked at him and I said “we’re in trouble! This kid looks like a choir boy not a fighter,” but he gave it all he got and he won the fight. He’s a family man. Doesn’t travel with an entourage. Always on time. Trains hard. Does everything that a true champion has to do.”
Cotto vs. Geale, a 12-round fight for Cotto’s WBC and Ring Magazine Middleweight World Championships, takes place Saturday, June 6 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and will be televised live on HBO. The fight, which is presented by Roc Nation Sports and Miguel Cotto Promotions in association with Gary Shaw Productions, will be the official kick-off event of the 2015 National Puerto Rican Day Parade Week and is sponsored by Cerveza Tecate, Jaybird, TapouT, Tequila Cazadores, Venue Kings and Nüe Resource. In addition to the great action inside the ring, the event will feature several notable Roc Nation touches that will further serve spectators with an enhanced fan experience, including Roc Nation and Grammy nominated artist Big Sean taking to the ring for a special performance prior to the main event. The event will be hosted by notable emcee “The Voice of New York” Angie Martinez and will also feature hit master DJ Lobo who will serve alongside Martinez throughout the night. Tickets priced at $500, $250, $200, $150, $100, $80, $50, $35 and $25, not including applicable service charges and taxes, are on sale now and available for purchase at www.barclayscenter.com, www.ticketmaster.com and at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center. To charge by phone, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Doors open at 6:00 PM, the first fight begins at 6:15 PM and the HBO telecast begins at 10:30 PM ET/PT.