Cotto justifies catch weight, but should this weekend’s fight carry an asterix?

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Miguel CottoIn a recent interview with Tha Boxing Voice’s Fernando Pimentel, WBC middleweight champion Miguel Cotto gave his thoughts on the stipulations of defending the title that he owns. “154 pounds is the limit of the division below 160…Whatever weight you pick between 155 and 159is middleweight.”

While Cotto’s assertions are technically correct, they don’t address the issue that most fans and media members have raised with the champion’s reign. The problem isn’t that Cotto chooses to defend the middleweight title below the 160 lb. weight limit. The problem is that he is mandating that his opponents do the same.

The middleweight limit is 160 pounds. Any fighter who fights above 154 and at or below 160 is a middleweight. Cotto defending the middleweight title at less than 160 lbs. is his prerogative. However, having opponents, such as Daniel Geale earlier this year, suck down to a weight below the 160 lb. weight limit in a fight for the middleweight title is simply wrong and unfair.

There should also be no such catch weight in the upcoming bout between Cotto and the challenger, a catch-weight “king” in his own right, Canelo Alvarez. The fact that the catch weight exists only further proves that the rules don’t matter so long as your name carries power in boxing, or you’re deemed to be the “A-side”. If your reputation precedes you as a big star in boxing, you get to make your own rules and your opponents either fight you on those terms or they don’t get the opportunity at all.

Cotto isn’t the first “A-side” star to demand that his opponents meet him strictly on his terms or not at all. The sports’ bell cow for years, Floyd “Money” Mayweather, made similar moves during his tenure at the top of the sport (see Marquez, Juan Manuel). However, that doesn’t mean that the practice should continue. As I’ve stated in previous articles on the subject, the weight classes are put in place to protect fighters, not act as bargaining chips in fight negotiations. A fighter, especially a world champion, shouldn’t be able to hide behind technicalities in his quest to avoid fighters at the division in which he’s the champion. And in this writer’s humble opinion, Cotto is using that to avoid who most every observer of the sport sees as the legitimate middleweight champion of the world, Gennady Golovkin.

One hopes that the winner of the November 21st clash, be it Miguel Cotto or Canelo Alvarez, will defend the middleweight title at the weight classes limit. From some of the quotes coming out of the Alvarez camp leading up to the fight, however, that doesn’t seem to be the case. He is claiming to not want to move up to 160 full time for at least a couple of years. If that’s the case, if he wins the middleweight title against Cotto, he should simply vacate it. One of Boxing’s most historically significant divisions deserves a full-time fighting champion. And that champion should defend the middleweight title as a middleweight.