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Mayweather ignores Pacquiao, lauds Cotto’s skills

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Boxer Floyd Mayweather participates in a news conference in New York
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LOS ANGELES >> While Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Miguel Cotto sat on golden thrones behind him at the famed Chinese Theatre, promoter Richard Schaefer gleefully noted that the first film ever played at the Hollywood landmark in 1927 was "King of Kings," Cecil B. DeMille’s silent Biblical epic.

Mayweather hardly needed another reason to think he is God’s gift to boxing, yet the unbeaten five-division champion stayed mostly silent Thursday about his only real rival for that throne atop the sport.

Mayweather and Cotto promoted their May 5 bout at the 85-year-old film landmark just a short walk from the Wild Card Gym where Manny Pacquiao trains under Freddie Roach. Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs) promised an action-packed fight in what’s likely to be his toughest test in a half-decade.

Money May threw only shadow punches at Pacquiao, his sole rival for pound-for-pound supremacy.

"My job is not to worry about other fighters," Mayweather said from his throne. "My job is to fight the guy in front of me."

Mayweather ripped Pacquiao in previous weeks and previous promotional stops after he failed to reach a deal with the Filipino congressman for the fight everybody wants to see. Instead of debating revenue splits and Pacquiao’s courage, Mayweather seemed determined to avoid saying Pacquiao’s name in Hollywood, instead focusing on Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs), the Puerto Rican champion with feared punching power.

"I’m just thankful for where I’m at today in this sport," Mayweather said. "I’ve lasted a long time in this sport by being sharp, having tremendous defense. Whatever his great attributes are, I have to do what I do best."

Mayweather and Cotto will fight for Cotto’s WBA 154-pound belt on Cinco de Mayo at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. Undercard fighters Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Sugar Shane Mosley joined Mayweather and Cotto on the theatre stage.

Mayweather still managed to criticize Pacquiao in more oblique ways than he did two days ago in New York, when he decided Pacquiao is "not one of the sharpest knives in the drawer" after their phone conversation about fighting. Mayweather even managed to turn his praise of his next opponent into a criticism of Pacquiao’s 12th-round stoppage of Cotto in November 2009 — arguably Pacquiao’s most impressive win to date.

"I look at Miguel Cotto as an undefeated fighter, because Miguel Cotto fought one fighter at a catch weight to where he wasn’t full strength," Mayweather said, referring to the 145-pound weight limit for Cotto’s loss to Pacquiao. "Same with Oscar De La Hoya (who also cut down to 145 pounds to fight Pacquiao). I don’t want to fight a guy at a catch weight. I want to fight a guy at 154. He’s solid, he can eat, he feels good, and he can go out there and perform at his best."

When he wasn’t dismissing questions about Pacquiao by deliberately pretending the queries were about Cotto instead, Mayweather complimented his next opponent’s skills — some learned from observing Mayweather at a Las Vegas gym a decade ago, Mayweather believes.

"I think Miguel Cotto has been watching me for a very, very long time," Mayweather said. "Miguel Cotto had a chance to sit at the Top Rank (gym) when we both were fighters at Top Rank, and he used to sit right there and watch me train every day, watch me box. Even some of his movement, I see it comes from me. I’m thankful that fighters can pick up stuff from me and use it and be successful. He’s a solid guy. He’s a good fighter."

Cotto also complimented Mayweather in the latest chapter of what’s been a civil promotion to date. Mayweather got the tallest throne and the biggest spotlight even though Cotto is the champion in this fight, but Cotto rarely shows any interest in the posturing that goes along with boxing.

"Of course, people want to see (Mayweather vs. Pacquiao), but Floyd’s next step is Miguel Cotto," said Cotto, who has won three straight fights since losing to Pacquiao, including an emphatic revenge of his only other loss to Antonio Margarito. "If people want to see that fight (against Pacquiao), they have to wait."

Mayweather also declined several invitations to reprise his criticism of New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin. Last month, Mayweather tweeted his displeasure with Lin’s stardom in comments widely construed as racist.

"I’m not fighting Jeremy Lin," Mayweather said with a laugh. "I thought, in this country, you had freedom of speech. They failed to realize that I said he was a good player."

Mayweather could go on for days with his unique brand of humble-braggadocio, but the rest of the year will be busy for the champion, who turned 35 last Friday. After this fight, he’s expected to spend June and July in a Nevada jail to resolve a domestic violence case, and he sounds interested in being in the ring more frequently in the next few years after fighting just five times in the last half-decade.

"It’s amazing to be at 35 and still be at the top of the sport and get nine-figure deals," Mayweather said. "It’s truly amazing. It’s a puzzle. Leonard (Ellerbe, Mayweather’s top adviser) is a piece of the puzzle. (Adviser) Al Haymon is a piece of the puzzle. I’m just the centerpiece."

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