MANILA, Philippines – American boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr. respects Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico as a man, but insists that the reigning world junior middleweight champion still has to earn his respect inside the boxing ring.
Mayweather (42-0) will challenge Cotto (37-2) for the World Boxing Association junior middleweight championship on May 5 in Las Vegas. The unbeaten boxer will enter the ring as a favorite, even though he is technically the challenger to Cotto’s belt.
“I respect Miguel Cotto as a man, always,” Mayweather said during a media conference call, as quoted by Bad Left Hook.
“I think he has a beautiful family. I don’t really know him, but he seems like a cool guy. Yes, I respect him as a man, what else can I say,” he added.
Inside the ring, however, it becomes a different matter entirely.
“Come May 5th, he’s going to have to make me respect his boxing skills,” Mayweather said. “Every fighter, you have to earn that. That’s nothing you can’t just get from me.”
Mayweather said there have been a few fighters who have earned his respect inside the ring.
“(Juan Manuel) Marquez, he earned my respect. He made me earn his respect, a couple other guys made me earn their respect... Shane Mosley made me respect his power,” he said.
Mayweather easily routed Marquez when they fought in 2009, and survived early trouble against Mosley to win via unanimous decision in May 2010.
“When it’s all said and done, I’m pretty sure they respect my fighting skills, also,” Mayweather said.
Mayweather will fight at the 154-pound weight division for the first time since 2007, when he defeated Oscar De La Hoya via split decision to win the World Boxing Council junior middleweight championship.