Miguel Cotto has been stripped of his world WBC middleweight title just four days before his clash with Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, in what will be one of 2015's biggest PPVs. The World Boxing Council (WBC) claimed Cotto "did not agree to comply with the WBC rules and regulations" and they now no longer recognise the 35-year-old as the holder of the belt.
The statement released by the WBC did not specify what was done wrong, vaguely implying wrongdoing without disclosing what the Puerto Rican and his promoter Roc Nation has or has not done. The statement read: "Simply put: [Cotto's camp] are not willing to respect the very same rules and conditions that applied to Cotto becoming WBC champion."
So what have they done wrong? In Cotto's mind, it is all about the money. As mandatory challenger, WBA and IBF champion Gennady Golovkin was next in line to face Cotto, a status he claimed before the fight 21 November was agreed. The LA Times reports this left Cotto obligated to pay the undefeated Kazakh to step aside and allow the Alvarez showdown to happen first.
According to ESPN's Dan Rafael, Cotto has already paid Gennady Golovkin $800,000 (£525,000). Golovkin accepted the "step-aside fee" with the view of taking on the winner for the belt at a later date.
Cotto's issue has been with paying the WBC a $300,000 sanctioning fee for the Alvarez fight. Rafael claims Cotto and his camp felt they were being extorted by the governing body and refused to pay up. In their original statement, the WBC stressed they stand by their "honourability and will not participate in the abuse of power and greediness," something that has irked Cotto, who feels their decision suggests otherwise.
"The organisation wants four champions in every division just to earn a percentage from everyone," Cotto hit back. "And then we have to pay for their mistakes. This is not fair to me. The WBC told me my offer was not reasonable to them. They told me I was not going to be their champion anymore.
"It was all about money. The fee for this fight was absurd for me. And I prefer to keep the money in my account."
According to the LA Times, Cotto offered the WBC $150,000 to settle the issue. They declined.
So what does this mean for Saturday's fight? Cotto failed to pay his sanctioning fee and will not be billed as the defending champion. Canelo Alvarez did, meaning only he can leave the MGM Arena holding the WBC middleweight belt. But this is unlikely to have little bearing once the bell rings.
Cotto v Canelo is one of the biggest fights of the year regardless of what belt is on the line. It pits two of the sport's finest against each other in another chapter in the compelling history of huge fights between Puerto Rican and Mexican fighters. While Floyd Mayweather Jnr v Manny Pacquiao failed to live up to the hype, Cotto v Canelo could be the fans' pick for Fight of the Year by Sunday morning.