NEW YORK -- World Boxing Association junior middleweight champ Miguel Cotto is a fighter of few words. Ricardo Mayorga, his challenger for a March 12 fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, is a well known for his trash-talking.
So when Mayorga's taunts and insults started during their news conference at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, it was no surprise to see a stone-faced Cotto sitting a few yards down, listening.
"My pants are up higher than Cotto's. I'm going to be the man, and Cotto will be the woman," Mayorga said. "On March 12, Puerto Rico is going to be dressed in black for your funeral. I can see fear in your eyes."
The shocker came when Cotto stepped up to the microphone, dropped his trademark deadpan and had a little fun of his own.
"Welcome all of you to Ricardo Mayorga's first press conference for his circus," said Cotto, speaking even as Mayorga continued to taunt him. "When you spoke earlier, I kept my mouth shut, now you remain quiet. I am a professional and with these tiny pants and these tiny hands I beat Shane Mosley. Do you remember Shane Mosley?
"I am a gentleman, you are a joker and a clown. All your career you have run off at the mouth and in all the big fights you've failed. Just so you know who I am, I am a three-time world champion."
Cotto (35-2, 28 KOs) is fighting for the first time in nine months since taking the title from Yuri Foreman during their fight at Yankee Stadium.
Mayorga (29-7-1, 23 KOs) has held titles in the welterweight and super welterweight divisions. He is coming off a nith-round TKO win on Dec. 17 against Michael Walker.
While he hasn't been active in recent years, Mayorga remains one of boxing's most well-known fighters. And before every fight, Mayorga tries to get under his opponent's skin.
"I didn't know that Miguel could get that upset and excited," promoter Don King said. "I'm proud of you, Miguel."
Mosley stopped Mayorga in 12 rounds on Sept. 25, 2008. Cotto beat Mosley by decision on Nov. 10, 2007 at Madison Square Garden.
Foreman (28-1-0, 8 KOs) returns to action on the undercard. It will be his first appearance since losing to Cotto. He faces Pawel Wolak in a super welterweight bout. Wolak (28-1-0, 18 KOs) is ranked No. 7 by the WBA and 10th by the IBF.
The Cotto-Mayorga card marks the first time King and Arum are co-promoting an event in five years.
For Cotto, not yet up for discussion are the possiblities of rematches versus Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito, who handed him the only two losses of his career. Nor did Cotto want to discuss his potential fights down the road against Andre Berto or Sergio Martinez or his own uncertain future.
"That's to talk about later. Now I'm concentrating on Mayorga," he said.
His first hurdle, he said, is to recapture the spark that got him into boxing in the first place. For that, he is sticking with Emmanuel Steward, who trained him for the Foreman bout.
"We made a pact on the first day," Cotto said. "Emmanuel told me he wants me to go back to being the Miguel I was at the beginning. Not the fighter, but the person who enjoyed boxing."
Cotto insisted there was a time when he didn't like boxing.
"It was when all those problems started and the arguments with my uncle," said Cotto, in reference to a falling out he had with his uncle/trainer Evangelista Cotto in 2009.
Steward, 66, said it was worth coming out of semi-retirement to train Cotto.
"I have found someone very dedicated to the sport. Don't rule him out. Miguel Cotto continues to be a star."