It's March and that means tournaments are on the mind. Why should we let hoops have all the fun? TSS presents our welterweight tournament extravaganza. Salivate over these matches and share your comment on who you think will be the last men standing.
TSS Welterweight Tourney: First Round Matches
#1 Floyd Mayweather (39-0) vs. #8 Joshua Clottey (33-2)
This matchup pits a classic boxer in Mayweather against Clottey, a solid all-around fighter. Unlike most top seed/bottom seed matchups, this one doesn't figure to be a gross mismatch. Among Clottey's many assets, his speed will likely be the trait that gives Mayweather the most problems, at least initially. Clottey's quick right hand found Antonio Margarito's melon with alarming frequency early in their encounter, and his handspeed allowed him to rattle off countless combinations against Diego Corrales. Against both Hatton and Judah, the only moments when Mayweather seemed at all bothered was when both fighters made their handspeed a factor.
However, in all of his thirty-nine professional fights, Floyd has always proven that he is the faster, smarter fighter. He would eventually do the same against Clottey. While Clottey's quickness and determination could make for some slightly uncomfortable moments early for Money May, class would gradually show. Mayweather's elusiveness would make Clottey hesitant, make him second-guess his every move, which would allow Floyd to fight at the measured pace he prefers.
But let's not kid ourselves by thinking Floyd would stop Clottey. Floyd is at the top of the division due to his intelligence, speed, and defense, not by virtue of his punching power. Once Mayweather figures out he can take Clottey to school without risking much, he will be on cruise control the rest of the night, ignoring the boos from the crowd. In that sense, Floyd is like a lighter-hitting Roy Jones, in that he won't take any risks unless absolutely necessary.
The Pick: Mayweather by unanimous decision, in a fight that is about as exciting as listening to Peter Cetera in your dentist's office waiting room.
#3 Shane Mosley (44-5) vs. #6 Carlos Quintana (25-1)
A close examination of Carlos Quintana's biggest wins proves true the old saying that styles make fights. Against Joel Julio, Quintana used his sound fundamentals to exploit Julio's over-aggressiveness in a clinical performance. Against Paul Williams, Quintana again put his solid skills on display, but his victory was also due to his work rate. He was, quite surprisingly, able to outhustle the usually machine-like Williams.
Against Mosley, however, Quintana is not likely to find the same type of success. He wouldn't be able to outbox Mosley as easily as he did Julio. Mayweather aside, there just aren't any welters out there who are craftier than Mosley, even at age 36. While Quintana has a good jab, he does not possess the power of Vernon Forrest, nor does he have the size and strength advantage Winky Wright enjoyed against Mosley. So much for Plan A.
Unfortunately, Plan B wouldn't go much better. Quintana would be just as unsuccessful in trying to outhustle Mosley. Against Luis Collazo, and even in some of the late rounds against Cotto, Mosley has recently proven himself able to outwork his younger counterparts. Once both gameplans fail for Quintana, he is essentially out of options.
Luckily for Quintana, the “styles make fights” adage could also work in his favor, to a degree at least. Though Mosley is a tried and true warrior, he's not the offensive juggernaut that Quintana found in Miguel Cotto, his only conquerer. As a result, Quintana is not likely to get caught, gutted, and served like he was against Cotto. He'll just get outclassed and outworked.
The Pick: Mosley by unanimous decision, somewhere in the neighborhood of 116-112.
#2 Miguel Cotto (31-0) vs. #7 Paul Williams (33-1)
In the aftermath of Williams' convincing, aura-shattering defeat to Carlos Quintana, a matchup with Cotto, even if only hypothetical, would have many fans dispatching the homicide unit.
Not so fast.
Though Williams was exposed a bit against Quintana, it was a reasonably competitive fight, not the thorough domination that it's been characterized as since then. Even on an off night, Williams made Quintana work awfully hard to earn the biggest win of his career.
Against Cotto, Williams would bring things to the table Cotto has yet to deal with in his pro career. Williams' freakishly lanky frame in itself is enough to throw most welterweights for a loop. Also, Williams has a withering work rate for which Cotto must be prepared. Cotto's never faced anything like this, and it would be interesting to see how he'd handle it.
The guess here is that he'd handle it pretty well. It wouldn't be surprised to see Cotto, who can be a slow starter, have a few problems with Williams' physical assets in the early rounds. However, what would prove to be Paul Williams' undoing is his penchant for fighting inside. If he lets Cotto inside his octopus-like reach, he immediately relinquishes every physical advantage he possesses. Cotto has, hands down, the best body attack in the game, and Paul Williams has a lot of body to attack. By the middle rounds, Cotto would find his way inside Williams' wide punches and start slashing away at his gaunt midsection. Williams' toughness would probably allow him to hear the final bell, but he would be in full-on survival mode by the end.
The Pick: Cotto by unanimous decision, sweeping the last six rounds or so.
#4 Antonio Margarito (35-5) vs. #5 Kermit Cintron (29-1)
Forecasting this matchup is particularly intriguing, since Margarito and Cintron will be locking horns in a highly-anticipated rematch on April 12. When first they met, Margarito dealt Cintron a career-defining loss in what proved to be an ill-advised step up for a very green Cintron. Jitters, inexperience, and, most importantly, Margarito's punishing fists caused Cintron to implode before our very eyes.
Ever since that night in April 2005, Cintron has been seeking redemption. He brought in Emmanuel Steward to hone his game, and the result has been steady improvement. He has scored five consecutive knockout wins since his only loss. Meanwhile, in his only significant fights, Margarito has gone 1-1, winning a tough decision against Clottey and losing a close decision to Williams.
With a vastly improved Cintron, this bout has legitimate competitive suspense despite the outcome of the first encounter. Going into the rematch, Margarito remains the big, strong, bruising welter he was the first time around. He must be hoping that his aggression and muscle will get the job done a second time as well.
Cintron, however, is a much more versatile fighter now than he was three years ago. Thanks to Steward, things seem to be coming more naturally for Cintron, a fluidity that just wasn't there early in his career. Considering the styles of both fighters, the ingredients are there for combustion. The question is, who will be the last man standing?
It's a risky guess, but Margarito was hammered by right hands with startling regularity early against Clottey, and he wasn't exactly hard to find against Williams. Cintron has proven himself better able to find the target in his recent fights. Ask Walter Mathysse, who was supposed to be a stern test for Cintron. Instead, he found himself counting the ceiling tiles after eating some scary shots from Kermit. Tony has a tendency keep that left hand a little low, and if Cintron has one opportunity to land that cannonball right hand, he may not need a second chance.
Going way out on a limb here, but what would a tournament be without an upset?
The Pick: Cintron by fifth-round KO. (TSS not responsible for any moneys lost in betting on this bout.)
That leaves us with the following matchups in our Final Four:
#1 Floyd Mayweather vs. #3 Shane Mosley
#2 Miguel Cotto vs. #5 Kermit Cintron