Miguel Cotto Stripped of WBC Middleweight Title

Fightland Blog

By Nick Wong

Photo by Jose Mendez/EPA

In another strange twist of boxing drama, now “former” WBC middleweight champion Miguel Cotto has been stripped of his title three days before his long-awaited showdown with Mexico’s Canelo Álvarez. The issue stems from Cotto being unwilling to pay a six-figure fee to the sanctioning body. An official statement from the WBC was released yesterday:

"The World Boxing Council worked tirelessly through a process that began over two years ago to secure the celebration of the highly anticipated fight between Miguel Cotto and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez. The WBC is proud of that accomplishment that is giving boxing fans around the world a very important fight to see. After several weeks of communications, countless attempts and good faith time extensions trying to preserve the fight as a WBC world championship, Miguel Cotto and his promotion [Roc Nation Sports] did not agree to comply with the WBC rules and regulations, while Saul Alvarez has agreed to do so. Accordingly, the WBC must rule on the matter prior to the fight. The WBC hereby announces that effective immediately it has withdrawn recognition of Miguel Cotto as WBC world middleweight champion.

As mentioned in the statement, Álvarez went ahead and paid the $300,000 sanctioning fee, meaning that should he win bout this Saturday night, he will become the WBC champion. Should Cotto win, the championship distinction then goes to interim champion Gennady Golovkin, who is slated to face the winner of the bout anyway, or at least was the idea. Rumors are now generating that Cotto’s refusal to pay is a way for him to avoid the feared Kazakhstani fighter, and if his last post-fight interview told us anything (skip to 3:40 to see), it’s that he’s not exactly enthused at the prospects of a potential showdown.

But when breaking down the numbers, it becomes readily apparent of how astronomical the prices for these matches can get. Per Dan Rafael of ESPN, it is common for fighters to negotiate a lower sanctioning fee since both sides are requested to pay a cool $300,000, plus another $25k from each promoter. Team Cotto had also allegedly paid another $800,000 to Golovkin to forego his title-shot right as mandatory challenger, and instead step aside to allow the bout against Álvarez to happen. Paying another $300,000 appeared too much for the Cotto camp, and though it has not been officially declared that the failure to pay the sanctioning fee led to the loss of the belt, it is the front-running theory.

In the end, Miguel Cotto losing his designation as WBC champion doesn’t really matter all that much. Most people are tuning into the fight because it is likely to be action-packed, and the style of one fighter will match up well with the other. Furthermore, the fight is being contested at a catch-weight of 155lbs, hardly qualifying for an actual “middleweight” bout in the first place. So if there’s anything to be learned from the whole ordeal, it’s that these days belts no longer make the fight, and the way sanctioning bodies have been acting recently, they really shouldn’t. 


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