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Miguel Cotto ducks Ricardo Mayorga's publicity grab

March 7, 2011 |  2:51 pm


Miguel Cotto had heard enough and didn’t think it best to stick around for the concluding act of the script, especially if it was going to be a sucker punch.

Rather than participate in the traditional face-off with Saturday opponent Ricardo Mayorga at a news conference Monday in Los Angeles, World Boxing Assn. super-welterweight champion Cotto let promoters Bob Arum and Don King stand between him and shuffled off to Las Vegas within seconds, leaving Mayorga to yell, "Where you going, Cotto?"

“He’s the one who ran away; it’s a lack of respect,” Nicaraguan challenger Mayorga (29-7-1, 23 KOs) said afterward. “I’ve never seen that before.”

Cotto was told by a person with his promotional company, Top Rank, to avoid any contact, because the promoter believed Mayorga would let the pre-fight smack talk escalate into physical contact again.

“I wouldn’t do that,” said Mayorga, who’s done it before to Cotto by pushing the champ’s title belt back upon him in a Puerto Rico fray and has participated in other picture-posing drama with Fernando Vargas and others. “I’ll wait until [Saturday]; that’s when I get paid.”

King told reporters earlier Monday that his former two-division world champion “is absolutely insane,” performing a humorous ritual to exorcise the “demons” from inside Mayorga’s head.

That’s a large part of the charm of this Showtime pay-per-view fight at the MGM Grand.

Cotto (35-2, 28 KOs) is the clear 8-to-1 favorite based on his body punching ability and resume that includes victories over Shane Mosley, Zab Judah and Yuri Foreman, but Mayorga brings an unpredictable, wild swinging style that could produce an upset.

How nuts is Mayorga? He tried one final throw against Mosley in his most recent fight of substance, and got knocked out -- with one second left in the bout.

King, of course, is predicting a knockout victory for his fighter.

Cotto, meanwhile, explains he merely needed an opponent before a planned rematch in July with Antonio Margarito and that Mayorga was the “most challenging, biggest name,” rather than Poland’s Pawel Wolak or Mexico’s Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

“He’s gentlemanly when we’re alone, like this morning,” Cotto said. “He’s just trying to sell himself. When I want to put pressure on him and move, I will … if he has better skills than me, I’ve never seen them.”

Cotto called Mayorga an “idiot” on the stage, and Cotto’s Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward said, “Miguel is too much of a quality boxer-puncher,” and predicted a KO by the fourth round. “Left hook to the body, left hook to the chin, wicked left jab,” Steward said.

That would set up the anticipated Margarito date. They fought in 2008, and Margarito blasted Cotto late, winning by 11th-round TKO –- right before Margarito had plaster-loaded inserts confiscated from his hand wraps before his January 2009 loss to Mosley.

Cotto insisted for awhile he’d never let Margarito earn a penny in a rematch, intent that the Tijuana fighter beat him with loaded gloves too, although no evidence of that was ever obtained.

“I’m 100% sure [Margarito] knows what was in his hands,” Cotto said Monday. “I’ll fight him. I just want to take the stick -- the thorn -- out of my body [over that loss].”

The Saturday card, costing $49.95 on pay-per-view, also includes a 10-round super-welterweight bout between Foreman (28-1, 8 KOs) and Wolak (28-1, 18 KOs), and an IBF lightweight title fight between champion Miguel Vazquez (27-3-2, 12 KOs) and Australia’s Lenny Zappavigna (25-0, 17 KOs).

Also, Baltimore Ravens string safety Tommy Zbikowski -- an NFL restricted free agent and former Notre Dame player -- will fight Richard Bryant in a four-round “special attraction” bout.

Zbikowski and Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco have engaged in a Twitter feud, and Arum said Monday he’ll “make that fight” if the NFL labor stalemate continues. Ochocinco has done some boxing training at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Hollywood.

--Lance Pugmire

Photo: Miguel Cotto (at podium) and Ricardo Mayorga argue during a January news conference in New York announcing their upcoming bout. Credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press