There have been times when Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Miguel Cotto would have set my heart ablaze. May 5, 2012 is not one of those times; Cotto is now past his prime, and Cotto isn't Manny Pacquiao, THE opponent that Mayweather he should have been fighting for the past two-plus years but hasn't. Yet Mayweather is set to fight Cotto on May 5 in Las Vegas, Mayweather and his promoter Golden Boy announced Wednesday, and it's not such a horrible fight that it doesn't kick up a few stray embers in my chest.
One of the many problems with being Floyd Mayweather, Jr. -- alongside the upcoming jail sentence, the intense hatred he engenders with a lot of boxing fans, etc. -- is that when you persistently reject every dangerous-seeming opponent mentioned for you as being unworthy, it becomes head-scratching when you finally get around to fighting one of those people when they're less worthy than at other times they've been mentioned as possible opponents. Just the other week, Mayweather said he wasn't interested in Cotto because Pacquiao already beat him up, making Cotto Pacquiao's "leftovers." And every other year where people have wanted Mayweather to face Cotto, Mayweather has had some other reason why Cotto wasn't worthy, like thinking Cotto is no damn good or that he didn't bring enough money to the table. Now Cotto is still Pacquiao's "leftovers" and every boxing fan will tell you that Cotto is in decline -- some will say steeply so, others a bit more slowly heading downward.
But Cotto does have a few things going for him as an opponent for Mayweather in 2012, as opposed to 2005 (when both men were considered two of the top junior welterweights) or, really, any time prior to Cotto's 2008 loss to Antonio Margarito at welterweight. One thing going for Mayweather-Cotto is that Cotto is, if in decline, still arguably world-class: I have him listed as the 16th best fighter in the world, of any weight, and Ring Magazine ranks him the world's best junior middleweight. Another is that Mayweather is moving up a division to junior middleweight to face Cotto, and while Cotto is no massive junior middleweight -- he's shorter, with less reach, than Mayweather -- he's also a stocky, tank-like fellow who should have a strength advantage at 154 pounds. Another: Cotto's style, one of intelligent pressure with good-if-not-great speed and power, at least theoretically poses a threat to Mayweather, based on past fights where Mayweather has struggled against that type of opponent, even if it's more theory than reality at this point. And, perhaps most importantly for Mayweather, Cotto is among the most popular fighters in the United States; while there are light years between Mayweather and Pacquiao and the rest of the field as pay-per-view attractions, Cotto is definitely in third place, and he has a habit of selling out facilities in New York City, where he draws Puerto Rican fans in droves, so Mayweather's side surely hopes the Cinco De Mayo weekend + Cotto angle somehow fires up Latin types. (Another angle to sell the fight: Mayweather usually plays the villain and Cotto the "good guy," even though some fans will tell you Cotto is a dirty fighter prone to low blows and such, but the black hat/white hat thing is a proven Mayweather marketing tool for his bouts.)
Take all those things. Set aside the fact that Cotto isn't Pacquiao. If you can do that and accept the idea that Mayweather has shown his own signs of decline -- he's 34 to Cotto's 31 -- and if you buy into the notion that Cotto looked refreshed after his rematch victory over Margarito in December, what with a new trainer who helped Cotto find his old self, then maybe you'll see this fight as really worthwhile.
Those are conditions I find hard to buy or accept in sufficient quantities to make this a fight that truly excites me. Mayweather is a bit less fleet of foot these days than he used to be, but he's still an exceptional athlete who has enough brains to make up for any loss of movement. He is a gifted marksman, and Cotto's lack of defense makes him one of boxing's most hittable elite fighters. Cotto hasn't shown major power at 154 pounds, like the kind he used to carry at lighter weights, so Cotto knocking out Mayweather doesn't seem likely -- and Cotto outboxing Mayweather to a decision win sounds even more far-fetched. Cotto did indeed look refreshed against Margarito in their rematch, but part of that had to do with Margarito being even more in decline than Cotto at this point in their careers, so it's plausible if not likely that Cotto's apparent revival was a mirage. And while Mayweather has occasionally struggled against the kind of intelligent pressure Cotto can offer, you have to go back to 2002 and Jose Luis Castillo to find a time when struggles against intelligent pressure translated into such difficulties that Mayweather stood a chance of actually losing.
Outside of Pacquiao, though, I was bound to be disappointed by virtually anyone Mayweather chose. The one exception might have been if Mayweather fought middleweight champion Sergio Martinez at 154 pounds or higher, because then we'd be talking about a particularly interesting and potentially competitive match-up. Among available options, there were worse ones than Cotto, like a very green Saul Alvarez, a very small Robert Guerrero or just about anybody else, really.
It's just that I wish I would have gotten Mayweather-Cotto when I wanted it, not years later. And, especially, it's that I'm sick of saying this about everyone Mayweather and Pacquiao fights these days: "Could've been someone better."
everybody keeps saying that cotto is past his prime what he did to margarito without loaded gloves manny couldn't do which was finish him.manny has looked looked bad in last few fights.and floyd has been a ''cherry picker'' since he made his HBO debute.cotto know is a free agent no arum to tell him to take another for the team with another manny fight.everyone knows floyd never wanted a manny fight if he did he would've split everything 50/50. floyd never wanted to talk about cotto and know his back is against the wall.the only thing that doesn't make sense is the date may 5. nor floyd or cotto are mexican. alvarez would've been an easy sell but alvarez is high risk low pay. in fight stand point it makes alot of sense. I think everyone should enjoy this fight because boxing is a dying sport.after the cottos,mayweathers and pacquiaos are gone there is really nothing else.
Cotto simply isn't fast enough or powerful enough at 154 to hurt Mayweather, especially in his diminished state.
I think Pacquiao faces more risk against Bradley than Mayweather does against Cotto. At the risk of being pelted with rocks and garbage, I think Pacquiao is starting to head south on his career parabola. Bradley is one tough, fast, strong, motivated dude who will not be intimidated by Manny and will fight dirty with his billy-goat dome.
Great article! Happy to see I am not the only boxing fan that has been frustrated with his "dodging" the last 8+ years.
At least he will be fighting Cotto at a weight he is comfortable..NOT a catchweight!!! And Cotto does not have to answer to a greedy Arum (who probably delayed this fight as well).I'm happy for Cotto and his "payday"! Finally makes his worth in a fight without Arum in his pockets!!
I'm a fan of this fight simply because I haven't seen it yet. I also think Mayweather's countering style fits Cotto's style much better than people think. Cotto has an underrated jab, and decent power when he is not backing up (which he does way too much of nowadays) which could make the fight interesting for a while. That said, Mayweather probably wins a relatively easy decision.
I'm happy that Cotto's getting this fight. He's a far better fighter than Mayweather's last opponent and more deserving of the fight, as well.
I'll now spend the next 3 months in semi-denial that Cotto can pull off the upset. Cotto doesn't fight just to survive, so he's got more of a chance of winning than a lot of the Mayweather/Pacquiao opponents of late. I can't see him following Mosley's game plan, for example.
Boxing is not dying. It's thriving outside of the United States, with 50,000 filling soccer stadiums to see the Klitschkos fight. The boxing scene is strong in the UK and other countries, too.
If you think there's nothing in the sport past Cotto, Mayweather and Pacquiao, you're not paying attention. Plenty of exciting fighters, such as YURIORKIS GAMBOA!, Brandon Rios, James Kirkland, Nonito Donaire and more.
Boxing needs help with its marketing and PR, no question. It's at least 10 years behind most other major professional sports in that regard. But people always have desired seeing men try to dismantle each other with their fists, and that's never going to change.
I dunno, Cotto finished Margarito in part because his eye swelled up badly in part due to Margarito getting a broken face and messed-up eye courtesy Pac. Pac-Margarito should've been stopped, too, in my opinion.
I think Alvarez is low-risk. But I think it would've been viewed as more of a mismatch, so it won't happen until Alvarez convinces 25% of people that he has a chance.
Boxing isn't dying. Crazy talk. I've been around long enough to hear people say the exact same thing you said about other fighters. "After Tyson, there's no one left... after Oscar's gone, there's nothing else."
@PaulKelly I agree with you on both counts, Paul, although if there are concentration issues, the Marquez fight could serve as something as a wake-up. (I highly doubt this theory, but hey.)
The best fight Cotto fought over his post-Margarito I career was the first six rounds of the Pacquiao fight; nothing he's done over the thinnest of paper champions (Jennings, Foreman), fading sluggers (Mayorga, Margarito II), or a loss turned win only by the magic, largely self-induced unluckiness of Joshua Clottey really stands up well under the light of day.
Meanwhile, although his aesthetics and lack of power aren't too appealing, Bradley still qualifies as a young craftsman, and the best in the world at 140, going against a fading not-really-welterweight. If he had any real power, I'd pick Bradley. But no result outside of a Bradley stoppage would shock me in that fight. Mayweather may have gotten old while we weren't watching, since we see no little of him these days, but I highly, highly doubt it.
@BFFoolio He's faced some good opponents over the last 8+ years. But too often, he's not faced the best available opponent when that person was at his peak.
All good points. Although Arum USED to be agitating all the time for Cotto to get a Mayweather fight.
@scottchristianson4 That's a low standard for being a fan of a fight! JK.
Cotto's jab is excellent, which very well could help him with Mayweather. But I think your "probably" is correct.
@Jane Doe Thanks Jane. Love that you said "love ur talking."
@ThePJ You have a point!
@beccapooka I'm generally happy when fighters I like get paid, but I wish Cotto wasn't going to be subjected to a few months of classless remarks for the honor.
Cotto has, at times, fought to survive -- see Margarito I, Pac. But I hope he stays aggressive against Mayweather even if things don't go swell for him.
@tstarks Maybe I'm reacting to the expectations game, but I'd be nervous for Cotto if he fought Alvarez. Cotto is better, but Alvarez is younger and I'm sold on him as a damn good fighter. It took me a while to come around, but every time he fights I'm more and more impressed.
@tstarks@BFFoolio I agree, I should have been more descriptive, the one that still blows me away is why doesnt anyone talk about Mayweathers early retirement right after his "win" against Oscar DeLaHoya? Wasnt there a automatic rematch clause in his contract if Oscar lost the fight? Starnge to me that Floyd retires right after the fight, then comes out of retirement soon after Oscar announces his retirement. That was the point I was trying to make, he picks and chooses his opponents very wisely so he can have the upper hand.
@tstarks I guess Cotto fought to survive some in those fights, but neither fight went the distance and he fought longer and harder against Pacman than any recent opponent with the exception of Marquez. What Mosley did again Pac and Floyd was a much different kind of fighting to survive. Mosley seemed to give up pretty quickly in both of those fights and then just tried to hang on until the final bell.
@PaulKelly@beccapooka I used to be a Canelo skeptic and a Chavez skeptic. They've both come around some, though, and are starting to beat increasingly threatening opposition. I share the exact view you do, PK: they might both have low ceilings, but they're both legit.
Canelo-Kirkland is a real fight, too. Canelo could get the better of Kirkland with sharper, shorter punches, or Kirkland could bumrush him. Either way, it's a high-contact affair with no obvious victor.
And becca -- I meant, Alvarez is low-risk for Mayweather. Cotto-Alvarez is a pretty even-money fight.
@beccapooka@tstarks The parallels between Alvarez and Chavez Jr. are pretty remarkable. They fight two opponents every time they step between the ropes -- their foes and skeptics who dismiss their legitimacy as world-class fighters.
Yet both Canelo and Chavez are beating both opponents every time they fight. I don't know how far either will rise in the P4P lists during their careers, but both have proved beyond doubt that they're capable, legitimate fighters who can pose a test for almost anyone in their weight classes.
I think Mayweather is the only fighter at 154 that Canelo can't touch. Same with Martinez at 160 for Chavez.
Otherwise, they're a strong challenge for anyone else. A Kirkland-Canelo fight intrigues the hell out of me, for some reason.
@tstarks@kgberg@HitDog The audio test is telling to me about Roach's condition, Tim. He's becoming increasingly harder to understand due to slurring of words. His vocal volume also is lower, as Freddie needs Ariza to bark most instructions into the ring during a fight. Roach's tremors also seem more severe. I pray for some sort of breakthrough or miracle that stabilizes Freddie's condition. But that's almost never the case with Parkinson's, sadly.
@tstarks@HitDog@PaulKelly I must confess that I...well...I don't like Mayweather. But that's as it should be, since at some level he deliberately makes himself into a svengali of all things sophomoric. But I won't watch the fight partlly because I think Cotto will lose and I don't want to see that. I like Cotto. And he will lose, and people who lose to Mayweather lose in a fashion that's almost worse than simply being beaten up. It seems that when one loses to Mayweather there's an element of humiliation involved. I can only think of one Mayweather fight (and I think he lost that one) in which he didn't manage somehow to make his opponent not only lose, but lose shamefully, in some way. "exposed" in the parlance. He is the rare boxer who turns boxing matches into expositions of his opponent's flaws, making them look ordinary without without taking many risks himself.
@HitDog@tstarks Roach's top guys haven't exactly looked sterling in their recent outings. Many thought Pacquiao lost to Marquez, Khan lost to Peterson, Martirosyan couldn't take out Gutierrez. Roach still is among the world's very best trainers, but I think some of his infallibility is evaporating, for whatever reason.
@tstarks@HitDog Floyd just seems to keep riding this apogee that shows no signs of returning toward Earth. He takes a ton of time off, returns and looks fantastic. If anything, his ring nous is even better than earlier in his career when he could rely more on his physical gifts. The guy also has an uncanny ability to tune out the cauldron of his personal life -- court cases, family strife, etc. -- much like Kobe Bryant does with the Lakers.
But I sense a gradual decline with Manny. He hasn't looked as sharp in his recent fights, although Clottey refused to fight and Marquez always will pose a style problem for him.
Manny has been a much easier target for opponents lately. Foes and opposing trainers are starting to "figure out" his style, as I don't see any new dimension being added to his skills at this state of his career. There is no damaging right hook or new tactic that Roach has added to his quill in the last couple of years.
Plus I sense that unlike Floyd, Manny is having more problems balancing his lives as a boxer and a public figure. Manny has much more responsibility out of the ring with his political career, and I think it's starting to gnaw on his focus.
Plus I sense real chaos starting to unfold in Manny's corner and at the Wild Card. Who is running Manny's corner between rounds? Roach? Ariza? Buboy? They're all yelling at PacMan.
The main takeaway for me from the "On Freddie Roach" show on HBO is that Freddie's condition is worsening. Freddie still runs the show day-to-day at the Wild Card, but he continues to add more boxers to his rolls when his condition is gradually deteriorating. That's not a good combination, and it's could create a vacuum for the ego-driven Ariza, who appears to me to be little more than a fitness coach who styles himself as Freddie's heir apparent and never turns down a chance for self-promotion.