It has come to our attention that Paul Malignaggi has signed to fight Miguel Cotto in New York on June 10th for the WBO World Title. At the time the match was made Mr. Malignaggi was NOT rated in the WBO rankings and therefore should not be considered as a voluntary defense for Mr. Cotto's title. We at Cestus Management are still baffled by Top Rank’s decision to have 140-pound WBO champion Miguel Cotto, defend his title against an unproven opponent, especially considering that our fighter, “Mighty” Mike Arnaoutis has come up through the ranks legitimately to become the top available contender for Cotto’s crown.
In the past eighteen months Paulie Malignaggi has fought only three times against the likes of Sandro Casamonica 34-4-0, Jeremy Yelton 16-1-0, and Donald Camarena 16-1-0. In that same span of time, Arnaoutis has fought seven times, 5 of which for the WBO/NABO Junior-Welterweight title, taking on fighters the likes of Juan Urango 13-0 (draw), Jesse Feliciano 12-2-2 (1 TKO), Jauquin Gallardo 16-2-1 (3 TKO), Roberto Santa Cruz 11-2-0 (MD), Jose Leo Moreno 12-0 (1 KO), and Marc Thompson 14-0 (1 TKO). The aforementioned run that Arnaoutis is on includes three undefeated fighters (Urango, Moreno, and Thompson).
If it is a matter of drawing power to sell out a venue or obtain huge TV audience figures and that is the only reason Top Rank is staging this fight. Then they should consider that “Mighty” Mike Arnaoutis is the first Greek born fighter since 1941, to hold any kind of championship belt (NABO). Just imagine what it would mean for the two-million Greeks who call New York City their home if one of their very own challenged for a world title at Madison Square Garden. The arena would, without question, sell-out. Include the possible TV revenue from the fifteen million Greeks in Greece and Australia who would rally around their fighter and the proven huge all around US following that night would take on a life of its own. Now I ask everyone, can this Cotto opponent generate that kind of live gate and television audience? I think that everybody knows the right answer to that question.
As a concerned participant I would like a clarification of Mr. Cotto's mandatory obligation to the highest available contender which we believe is due in September or October. Certainly if Mr. Cotto decides to fight an unranked opponent and therefore dishonors the WBO we want to make it crystal clear that he should not put himself or the WBO in a position that requires a rematch clause that would hinder the champion’s ability to fulfill his obligation to the long waiting and deserving highest mandatory challenger.
Having said our piece, Cestus Management understands that the Cotto-Malignaggi fight is a done deal and the public will just have to wait for Greece’s favorite son to get his well deserved title shot. The WBO mandatory defense is up by no later than October 2006. We are putting Top Rank on notice that should Malignaggi injure himself in anyway; “Mighty” Mike Arnaoutis will be ready willing and able to take his place immediately for the June 10, 2006, date. Now, after the Cotto-Malignaggi fight takes place, we will definitely exercise our ranking and we expect whoever is the champion may it be Cotto or by some miracle, Malignaggi, to honor his mandatory defense.