LAS VEGAS -- In the week leading up to Saturday's Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto junior middleweight title bout, I had heard rumors that Mayweather had suffered some sort of hand or wrist injury.
Last Tuesday, I spoke to Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's adviser, about it and emailed Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer. They both vehemently denied there was any issue with Mayweather's hand.
Ellerbe called me to refute the rumor. Schaefer more forcefully denied the issue in an email, writing, "Absolutely NOTHING wrong. Floyd is perfect and ready to go. These are all bull---- rumors."
Of course, with a huge fight a few days away, I wouldn't have expected them to come clean with me anyway.
Well, it turned out the rumors were true, that Mayweather did have a hand problem. It also turned out that he was a bit under the weather, making his unanimous decision win against Cotto (in a grueling action fight) all that more impressive.
At the final news conference on Wednesday, Mayweather sounded as if he had a bit of a cold. He said it was because he had just woken to come to the news conference.
During the postfight news conference, however, Mayweather came clean. He said he had been ill and had suffered a left hand injury during his training camp. But he refused to withdraw from the fight.
"I came into the fight weighing 147 [pounds], so I was four pounds lighter than I was [at Friday's weigh-in]," said Mayweather, whose cold caused him to lose weight after the weigh-in.
Cotto weighed 154 pounds -- the division limit -- and put on several pounds after the weigh-in, giving him a distinct weight advantage in the ring.
"I was kinda sick and I was having hand problems," Mayweather said. "So I said, you know what, I still was training in the gym but I was using my hands real light. I didn't get to box the last week like I wanted to. So, you know, things happen. But the main thing is, we got the victory and that's the most important thing."
Because he wants to stay sharp, Mayweather usually has his last sparring session on the Thursday before a fight. But he cut his sparring short by several days for the Cotto fight to preserve his hands, which he said he had to ice regularly. Mayweather has had hand problems throughout his career, although not in recent fights -- none that he has acknowledged, anyway.
"I sucked it up and went out there and did what I had to do," Mayweather said.