Photos by Sumio Yamada
FLOYD MAYWEATHER Jr. vs MIGUEL COTTO
While Floyd Mayweather Jr won’t be facing Manny Pacquiao any time soon, the two welterweight superstars have interesting tests scheduled in Las Vegas, with Pacquiao meeting undefeated Timothy Bradley on June 9 while Mayweather moves up to light-middleweight to challenge Miguel Cotto for the WBA “super” world title tonight.
On paper, tonight’s HBO PPV view fight from the MGM Grand is intriguing. Cotto has lost only twice, he is the naturally bigger man defending a legitimate championship, and he looked rejuvenated in his last fight when outclassing Antonio Margarito to exact revenge for the brutal beatdown inflicted by the Mexican fighter in 2008.
In reality, though, this is a fight that Mayweather should dominate: The oddsmakers have made Mayweather a 7-1 on favourite.
Cotto is an accomplished boxer, and he can punch with authority. He has had many tough fights, though, and I wasn’t sure he would be the same fighter after the losses to Margarito and Pacquiao, fights in which he suffered career-shortening punishment.
I have to say that Cotto has come back to give better performances than I expected from him. Cotto boxed beautifully at times in his three wins at light-middle after losing to Pacquiao, with Emanuel Steward in his corner for the bouts with Yuri Foreman and Ricardo Mayorga while Cuban coach Pedro Diaz worked with him for Cotto’s revenge victory over Margarito.
It is tempting, then, to think that Cotto is back to his best form. However, in hindsight, Foreman was too inexperienced and too lacking in punching power to pose a threat, while Mayorga and Margarito were too slow and too easy to hit.
Cotto will be the heavier man in the ring tonight but I don’t see him able to bully Mayweather, and in a set piece boxing match it should be Mayweather’s fight all the way — his punches are faster and I believe he has the better left jab.
Mayweather is an astute student of the game and I believe he has selected Cotto as his opponent for a reason. While Mayweather is respectful in his comments, I get the impression that he sees Cotto as being made for him.
Boxers don’t always back up their pre-fight utterances, but Mayweather has promised something dramatic, “an unbelievable show” as he put it at one of the press conferences. I feel that Mayweather is going to be looking to do damage.
Cotto is four years the younger man at 31 but Mayweather looks much the fresher fighter. Cotto is going to be facing a fighter on a level far above Foreman, Mayorga and Margarito.
In this fight I suspect that Cotto is going to get hit hard and often.
We don’t think of Mayweather as being a very hard hitter, of course, but his punches are sharp. I thought he was on course to stopping Victor Ortiz in the later rounds in his last fight but Ortiz’s lapse in concentration gave the opportunity for an earlier ending.
It seems unlikely that Mayweather can stop Cotto, but not beyond the realm of possibility. I think back to the way Shane Mosley was hitting Cotto with right hands, at the punishment Cotto took in the early rounds against Zab Judah, and the difficult win over Joshua Clottey. Pacquiao twice floored Cotto but seemed to ease up — something Pacquiao has been doing rather a lot lately.
Cotto is an excellent ring mechanic but Mayweather is a master boxer who just might deserve to be ranked with the greats. Cotto pledges to “make Puerto Rico proud”, and we can be sure that he will do his best and give a courageous effort, but I think the oddsmakers have it right: I feel that this is Mayweather’s fight to lose.
I believe that Cotto will make a spirited, gutsy showing but I simply can’t see what he can do to win. If Cotto tries to be the big man and brings pressure I can visualise him getting picked off by counter punches, and I don’t believe he can outbox a fighter who is surely the best pure boxer in the business.
This isn’t an easy fight for Mayweather but at the same time it is one where I think his star will shine brightly — Cotto is, I think, going to bring the best out of Mayweather.
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