Unbeaten Mayweather master of hand-picking foes

The boxing news conference began at its customary 30 minutes beyond scheduled time – heaven help these fighters and some managers/chief enablers if they can’t pick out the proper sunglasses to wear inside and look foolish – and Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions talked about Ignacio Zaragoza addressing the troops in 1862.

And the conspiracy theorist in me awakened.

The rest of me remained asleep, because if you’ve heard others quote Mexican soldiers saying things like, “You have behaved like heroes for the reform,” and, “On uncountable occasions, you have made our adversaries bow their heads,” well, you’ve heard it 1,000 times.

Melissa Saragosa is the reason Floyd Mayweather Jr. is fighting tonight, a justice of the peace who in January failed to do her job by not upholding an original scheduled reporting date.

She granted Mayweather’s request to postpone his 90-day jail sentence for pleading guilty in a domestic violence case, allowing the fighter to set a junior middleweight title bout against Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand Garden on this, Cinco de Mayo.

Saragosa missed the part that, at the time, only a date at the MGM was being held and no contractual agreement with anyone was in place. Not with an opponent or on any terms. Nothing.

Ah, judges. Some tend to struggle with important details.

Zaragoza with Zs.

Saragosa with Ss.

It might prove the most interesting storyline about this matchup.

I would have loved to have seen this five years ago, a popular theme for any Mayweather fight since he won a split decision against Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. If you don’t think Mayweather since has hand-picked opponents he is sure to beat and thus continue to own an undefeated record, you’re undoubtedly in possession of a “Money Team” warmup suit and indoor sunglasses.

It is now, without question, all about the digit zero to the right of his win-loss ledger for Mayweather.

Cotto hasn’t been the same since suffering his first professional loss in 2008, a night when Antonio Margarito began an onslaught in the seventh round and had Cotto bleeding profusely by the 11th.

It wasn’t proven that Margarito used illegal hand wraps until he fought Shane Mosley six months later, but Cotto’s beaten and bloodied face eventually drew much suspicion about that ’08 loss.

He has won five of six fights since, including ones over Joshua Clottey and a rematch with Margarito, but many believe Cotto never recovered from that initial defeat.

Cotto cuts easily. Mayweather is a minus-750 favorite.

For those in the Mayweather betting corner, you’d get better odds on Saragosa not basing her next judgment on the economic bottom line from a sporting event.

“I don’t know if there is truth to the fact this would have been a better fight” five years ago, De La Hoya said. “That might be the case. I did see something in Cotto’s last fight (the rematch against Margarito in December). He had his confidence back, which he was lacking the first time they fought. Now, is that going to help him and take him back five years, who knows? Who knows what Miguel Cotto we will see? But I do think this is going to be a Cotto who is 100 percent ready for whatever Floyd brings to the table.

“We know it’s going to be huge. We know pay per views will sell. We know the arena will be sold out. Boxing needs this to be a great fight. Regardless of who wins, we want and we need a great fight.”

De La Hoya and others give Cotto a chance because of a man named Pedro Diaz, the fighter’s trainer once in charge of Cuba’s boxing program who joined the Cotto camp for the second Margarito fight.

Diaz supposedly has rejuvenated Cotto. Given him back swagger. Made him believe again.

Mayweather’s camp also has been said weary of Diaz. After the history lesson by Schaefer on Mexico’s unlikely victory over the French forces, Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe on Wednesday took bizarre shots at Diaz about keeping his opinions to himself.

Diaz’s crime: He said Cotto would be victorious.

The shame.

Then again, maybe it was just a case of Ellerbe trying to wake everyone up.

“(Five years ago) I was so young, not a mature boxer,” Cotto said. “(Mayweather) was a great champion over me at all levels. But now, we are the same. Nobody has found a way to beat him. I will be that person.”

I doubt it. There is a reason Mayweather after tonight will have made $80 million in the past two years fighting Mosley, Victor Ortiz and Cotto.

Mayweather is a terrific defensive fighter and an astute businessman and, most of all, knows how to pick opponents who are incapable of staining his unbeaten mark.

Floyd wins again tonight. His bank account swells. He continues to tweet winning betting tickets and never losing ones. The zero remains on the right side of the ledger. The city makes millions of dollars.

And somewhere, incredibly, Melissa Saragosa is content with her decision.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.

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