Can you imagine if the events in the movie “Groundhog Day” really happened? Can you imagine having to live the same day, over and over and over? Boxing fans could be mistaken for thinking they were actually living the real life version of “Groundhog Day,” having to tolerate the Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao negotiations, which to no surprise after repeated back and forth jockeying, have failed yet again, for about the millionth time.
As an alternative, Floyd Mayweather Jr. will now face Miguel Cotto on May 5th at the MGM in Las Vegas, in the junior welterweight division, with Mayweather moving up from welterweight.
On paper, the fight appears captivating. Cotto will be at his optimum weight, 154 pounds, he is coming off the back of a three fight winning streak, which has seen him defeat Yuri Foreman, Ricardo Mayorga and his arch-nemesis Antonio Margarito, all at 154 pounds. Miguel Cotto also gives the impression that he has improved under the guidance of Pedro Diaz and Emanuel Steward before him, adding what appears to be better movement and a solid jab to his arsenal.
And so we get to Floyd Mayweather Jr. He will be 35-years-old come fight night, an age that does not normally bode well for a defensive based fighter, who relies a lot on speed and reflexes. Floyd will also be moving up from 147 to 154, further evidence that Mayweather will be up against it on “Cinco Di Mayo.”
One does not have to be a “student of the game” to realize that Floyd Mayweather is taking a huge risk here, right?
When it comes to boxing, Floyd Mayweather is THE “student of the game.” Despite the fact that one of his favourite quotes is that he doesn't watch footage of his opponents prior to fights, Floyd Mayweather will know exactly how Miguel Cotto operates. He will have watched hours of footage, taken in every Miguel Cotto habit, and come May 5th, will have a blueprint on how to capitalize on them. Make no mistake, Floyd Mayweather's boxing IQ is as high as anyone in the sport, if not higher. This not only includes thinking boxers like Juan Manuel Marquez and Bernard Hopkins, but trainers like Nazim Richardson and Freddie Roach. It's one thing knowing what to do, but another thing entirely to apply it in the ring. Floyd Mayweather also has cheetah speed and reflexes to go with his brain and craft. It is merely an illusion that Mayweather is taking a risk against Cotto.
The biggest problem Miguel Cotto will have on fight night is the fact that he is a converted southpaw. More specifically, his power hand, his left hook, will be his lead hand, not the usual rear hand. Cotto's best chance to win the fight is to land his left hook, in particular his left hook to the body. In there lies the problem. Floyd Mayweather is a master at negating lead hand power punchers, such as Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz and even Ricky Hatton. Floyd's defense is designed to neutralise wide looping punches. In order for Miguel to land his left hook, he will have to be squared up to Floyd, and within close proximity. There is no way Mayweather's defensive unit allows for such a wide telegraphed punch. The only shots I've seen land flush on Mayweather are disguised straight punches, from Zab Judah, Chop Chop Corley, and Mosley.
Another problem for converted fighters is their footwork. It is one thing training your upper body to go against your natural directional movement, but to get your upper body in sync with your legs is another thing. If you watch Miguel Cotto fight, he seldom throws punches whilst moving. He moves….stops….then lets his hands go. Floyd Mayweather will have picked up on this. One can see Floyd waiting for the signal, and getting off first every time. Also, if you watch his movement on defense, he backs up in straight lines. This is because his upper body is not linked to his lower body, which leads to him being unable to turn his opponents or utilize head movement. Have a look at the very first punch Mayweather threw in his last outing against Victor Ortiz. Straight right hand, then a step away from the power punch, the right hook. Victor, a converted southpaw, is slow to move because of the confusion between upper and lower body.
If we go, a few years back Floyd Mayweather fought another Puerto Rican fighter named Henry Bruseles, a fighter who bears more than a resemblance to the style of Miguel Cotto. In this fight, we saw Bruseles try and close the distance and land his left hook, much like Cotto will try and do, only to find Mayweather's right arm positioned in such away that his elbow is covering his torso, whilst his right glove is guarding his chin. Cotto will experience this early in the fight, his left hook to head and body taken away and put in the back pocket. After a few rounds of Mayweather making sure that his opponents' primary weapon is eliminated, Mayweather will start and let his straight right hand go, one punch at a time. By the middle rounds I can envision the fight to be all but over, with Mayweather moving laterally, keeping the converted Cotto moving against his usual direction. If Mayweather starts landing clean shots at will, you can expect him to start walking Miguel down. This is Cotto at his most vulnerable, backing up, offering no head movement. While I feel the fight will end up a clear decision win for Floyd, I would not be overly shocked if Mayweather scores the late KO. He has enough power to keep any fighter honest.
Floyd Mayweather is the most versatile, adaptable fighter in boxing, no question. Should Miguel Cotto bring a Plan B or C to the table, you can guarantee Mayweather will have them worked out within a few moments. His A game is to negate his opponent's A game.
Despite the promotional work that will soon be commencing, this fight will not be competitive in this writer's opinion. Floyd Mayweather's skill level does not match his desire for a challenge. He does not take risks in or out of the ring. Every aspect of his boxing world is carefully thought-out. That's why he has selected Cotto, big box office, small chance of winning. Some people say this fight should have happened in 2007 after Mayweather defeated Ricky Hatton. In reality, the result would be the same.
Like Max Schmeling once said about Joe Louis, “I see something.” Floyd Mayweather will have already said the same words whilst looking at Miguel Cotto.