BOXING NEWS: Some people may not be aware of the deep personal friendship that you and Miguel Cotto share. Tell us about that first of all.
Mauricio Sulaiman: Miguel Cotto has been a dear friend of the Sulaiman family and the WBC for many, many years. We are personal friends, we are like family. Before his training camp for this fight he went to Mexico for four days with his wife, and we spent time together with my wife and our friends. He went down to Mexico for the funeral of my father [Jose Sulaiman] and he has a very special place in our hearts.
How do you now feel that it has come to this?
It’s very upsetting, disappointing and it’s unfair. It’s uncalled for because everything should be concentrated on the fight and whatever happens in the ring. We are very proud to have worked for more than two years to make sure Cotto-Canelo was made, and I’m very proud of that. The WBC was instrumental in this process. It is very upsetting that this has happened, and there was no need for this to happen.
Did you consider delaying the announcement until after the fight to ensure all the attention would be on the fight, and not the WBC’s decision?
No. This has been going on for many weeks, this is not something that just happened yesterday. Cotto and Canelo both knew they had to abide by the WBC’s regulations – which includes the payment of sanction fees – and after many discussions, and many postponements of the deadline they [Cotto] decided not to abide by the WBC.
The WBC have been heavily criticised for this and been called greedy for chasing sanctioning fees in this way. Explain why the WBC need sanctioning fees, and what happens to them.
Okay, boxing is one of the few sports, and perhaps the only sport, where the governing body does not control the business side of the sport. The WBC only controls the administration and the medical side. The WBC is not involved in television rights, in sponsorship, in gates [ticket sales] – we have nothing to do with the business side. We have our organisation, 165 countries affiliated, and our only source of income to administrate the organisation is the sanctioning fees. So why sanctioning fees? Because we own the WBC belt, the WBC name and its accolades so for a fighter to be recognised as champion and to make money as WBC champion, they have to pay 3 per cent of their earnings. In this case [a fight of this magnitude], 3 per cent of their earnings is much, much higher than $300,000 but we capped it at $300,000 which is very reasonable for the size of the fight and we do it to support both fighters. Canelo accepted to abide by the rules, accepted to pay the sanctioning fees and Cotto did not, and he personally called me and said he was not willing to abide by the rules so the title became vacant.
What was the involvement of WBC Interim champion, Gennady Golovkin, in the situation?
Gennady Golovkin has to be commended because he reached a step aside agreement to allow this great fight [Cotto-Canelo] to take place. His team agreed with Roc Nation to allow this fight to take place, and he is not to blame for this – quite the contrary – and he must be commended for wanting this fight to take place.
Why do the WBC recognise an Interim champion when the ‘full’ version of the title is actively being contested? Is there really a need for an Interim champion?
It’s a great question. We are completely against Interim championships. The Interim title only exists when there is a medical or a legal situation. In this case there was a tremendously important case in court with Marco Antonio Rubio. We had to order a court situation because he was the mandatory challenger but [then champion] Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr lost to Sergio Martinez and we could not force Martinez to take the fight [with Rubio]. So it went to court, and the WBC allowed an Interim championship to manage the situation. Rubio allowed Martinez to fight Cotto, and then he fought Golovkin. Golovkin won and has allowed Cotto to fight Canelo. He could have enforced immediate action but there was a mutual agreement and we respected that agreement because we wanted the best fights, and Cotto-Canelo is one of those fights, and then the winner versus Golovkin is huge. This matter is all public, we have the records and minutes of the conventions, and we have only participated in good faith to allow this structure to go forward. It’s very unfortunate that it has turned out like this.
So if Alvarez wins on Saturday, he will be the WBC champion and he will fight Golovkin next?
That is correct.
What happens if Cotto wins?
The title will be vacant and the Interim championship rules state that whenever the Interim champion and the champion do not fight for any reason, then the Interim champion is elevated to champion.
Okay, so the bottom line is that if Cotto wins on Saturday night, Gennady Golovkin will be the new WBC middleweight champion?