- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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The two-city media tour to New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico is over, and Miguel Cotto is now beginning to train for his next fight -- just not the one many thought he would be getting ready for.
Cotto, the three-division titleholder and one of boxing's biggest stars, has been working out at home in Puerto Rico, but on Saturday he'll leave with trainer Pedro Diaz and his team for the mountains of Big Bear, Calif. Cotto will train at elevation for 22 days and then spend the remaining weeks of his training camp in Orlando, Fla., where he has prepared for his other recent fights.
But Cotto isn't training for the fight that many thought he would be in, namely a rematch of his 12th-round knockout loss to Manny Pacquiao in a 2009 welterweight title bout.
Of the three potential opponents Pacquiao was presented with by Top Rank's Bob Arum for a Dec. 8 HBO PPV fight, Cotto was the one preferred by Pacquiao -- rather than a fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez or a rematch with Timothy Bradley Jr.
But Cotto, a promotional free agent who had spent his entire career with Top Rank (aside from his May fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.) had other ideas. Sure, Cotto was open to facing Pacquiao again -- and when has Cotto ever ducked a tough opponent? -- but he is also a proud man.
Feeling disrespected, Cotto refused to take a deal that wasn't to his liking and rejected Arum's offer. Instead, he decided to work again with Golden Boy, which put on the Mayweather fight, and accepted a fight with junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout for far less money.
They will meet Dec. 1 (Showtime) at New York's Madison Square Garden -- Cotto's home away from home -- which always rocks with his Puerto Rican fans when he fights there. It will be Cotto's eighth fight at the Garden, where his record is perfect (8-0, 4 KOs).
Why would Cotto pick Trout (25-0, 14 KOs), a good fighter with a belt but a virtual unknown, over Pacquiao, the global star? What gives?
Money and weight is what gives.
For the 2009 fight, Cotto's deal with Top Rank called for a guaranteed $6.5 million purse, plus a share of the pay-per-view profits. During the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. promotion last month, Arum told boxing reporters that he offered Cotto $13 million for the Pacquiao rematch and estimated that with strong pay-per-view sales Cotto could earn another $2 million from his share of the profits.
Arum said that when Cotto turned it down, he and Pacquiao went with Marquez for Pacquiao's next fight, just one week after Cotto's.
Cotto vigorously disputed Arum's claim.
"The only offer Top Rank ever made us was the same money as in 2009," Cotto told ESPN.com. "[Arum] made the same offer he made in 2009, and we found it kind of funny. That was the reason we decided not to face Pacquiao. That, and they also wanted me to go down to 150 pounds and give him the same advantage that they gave Pacquiao in 2009, a catchweight."
Cotto said he was surprised to read that Arum said he offered him $13 million.
"Bob said he offered us $13 million, but he never came to us with that offer," Cotto said. "He always offered us the same guarantee he offered us in 2009, with the same benefits, and that's not fair. He offered the exact same amount of money. Of course it's a business, but all we want is fair business. You can say to Bob to tell me he made that offer to me to my face, and you will see his reaction.
"Miguel Cotto always agrees to fight the best. I've never said no to anybody, but you need to treat me fairly in business."
Even if the money could have been worked out, Cotto said the weight was a major issue.
For the 2009 bout he had agreed to go down to 145 pounds, two less than the welterweight limit, and said it took its toll. If he had taken the rematch at 150, it would mean dropping 4 pounds below the junior middleweight limit, which is where Cotto has fought his four bouts since his loss to Pacquiao.
"If he wants a big name and wants to fight the best, no catchweight," Cotto said of Pacquiao. "Making catchweights is easy for them. They make the other guy have trouble making weight and they take advantage of that. I wasn't going to do that again. I am 154 pounds. I am not going to fight at a catchweight and make myself weak."
Once Cotto (37-3, 30 KOs), 31, moved on from the Pacquiao rematch, Trout came into the picture. "No Doubt" Trout (25-0, 14 KOs), a 27-year-old from Las Cruces, N.M., won a vacant belt in February 2011 and has made three low-profile defenses, including a near-shutout decision against Delvin Rodriguez on a Showtime undercard in June.
So even though Cotto will make far less to fight Trout than he would have made against Pacquiao -- although Cotto wouldn't divulge his purse for the upcoming fight -- he sounded satisfied with what he has in front of him.
"When rematches with Floyd or Manny went out of the picture, the best option was Austin Trout, so we picked Austin Trout to fight," said Cotto, adding that he had never seen Trout fight but would leave the video-studying up to Diaz. "He's a world champion, he's undefeated. He's a dangerous fighter and he was the right opponent for me, but I'll still walk out of the ring with another belt."
Cotto said one of his motivations for facing Trout was the opportunity to win yet another title. He has already claimed four belts in three divisions: junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight. He lost his junior middleweight title to Mayweather via competitive decision in one of the toughest fights of Mayweather's career.
Now Cotto wants another strap for his collection.
"In 12 years [as a professional], I never think I am going to reach those things -- all those titles, all the victories -- but I am pretty happy and I will work hard to be champion again on Dec. 1," Cotto said. "I'm happy about this fight. I am going to be in New York, my second home, in front of a huge Puerto Rican and Latin crowd, fighting for them, fighting for my country and fighting for myself."
Cotto reinvigorated his career with an emotional revenge victory against Antonio Margarito in December and seemed to get another lift by his performance against Mayweather, even though he lost.
Cotto performed as well as he has in years, pushed Mayweather to the limit, made yet another exciting fight, and earned a ton of money between his $8 million purse and his share of the profits from the massive 1.5 million pay-per-view buys.
He said he wasn't too down about losing to Mayweather.
"Two or three days after the Mayweather fight, I just realized I did a great job against a great boxer and all I feel is happiness in myself," Cotto said. "I felt good. It gave me more energy to work for more things. I'm happy now and working hard. You can ask [Mayweather] how it was. I know he never faced a guy like Miguel Cotto before."
If Cotto gets past Trout, whose technical style and quickness could pose problems, he would be open to a rematch with Mayweather or a showdown with junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, which would be a big-time fight in the Puerto Rico-versus-Mexico boxing rivalry.
"I'm here for the big names, for the real fights," Cotto said. "I am always willing to fight anybody; I'm ready for anyone as long as there is fair business. Mayweather, fine. Canelo? After this fight, we can sit with his promoter [Golden Boy] and we can figure out something. We can see if we can make this fight reality.
"I'm always a guy who likes to train hard and make really good fights. I'm ready to face anyone in the sport in my division. I'm going to make my best effort to win and always be in an interesting fight."
Miguel Cotto doesn't duck anyone, but he won't lay down to make a fight, either. The Puerto Rican star says short money and a catchweight demand kept him from accepting a Manny Pacquiao rematch.