This past weekend boxing fans had to shell out nearly seventy dollars in order to watch boxing's best pound-for-pound fighter, Floyd Mayweather 43-0 (26) fight WBA junior middleweight title holder Miguel Cotto 37-3 (30). And as sad as it is that boxing fans have to be gouged to see quality fights like Mayweather-Cotto, this one was an outstanding bout and no one could have felt as if they were fleeced afterward.
Mayweather won a well deserved, hard-fought unanimous decision (I had it 8-4 / 116-112 Maweather) over a game but not quite up to the task Cotto. The fight saw plenty of good give and take action. However, when it was over it was obvious to all that Mayweather is the superior fighter. Actually, watching Mayweather and Cotto proved what it looks like when a genuine great fighter meets a terrific/outstanding fighter.
Boxing aficionados can debate styles and strategies all they want. The trouble with that is it's the fighter who makes the style – not the opposite. Mayweather dictated the terms of the fight aside from a few good runs that Cotto put together. Sure, you'd be correct in suggesting that Cotto waited on Mayweather too much. He was directly squared up right in front of Mayweather in the danger-zone and didn't let his hands go. What a colossal mistake that was for the simple fact that Floyd was too fast and accurate for Miguel to try and wait and then react to what he did. There were so many patches during the bout when Cotto would get close to Mayweather and not make Mayweather do what he didn't want to. Miguel was too cautious and looked as if he was more concerned about going first and missing, and then being countered, which ultimately paralyzed him and opened the door for Mayweather to unload and score.
When Cotto tried to push the fight he did it in runs, something Mayweather quickly picked up on. Floyd knew that during the holes Cotto's inactivity provided that he could fill them and control the round. Again, Cotto's offense wasn't consistent and Mayweather knew he'd get his openings after Miguel's flurries. Lastly, what did Cotto gain by trying to bring Mayweather to him? He was constantly beat to the punch and had nothing to hit after Mayweather scored because Floyd moved back just enough to disrupt Cotto from getting off. That was apparent early and Miguel should've abandoned that tactic before the second round was over. It netted him nothing and put him down further in the scoring.
Before the fight it was said here that Cotto would probably get his faced chopped up if he fought as the attacker, but that didn't turn out to be the case. In reality, Cotto didn't pay much of a price for trying to carry the fight to Mayweather. It was also stated here that if Cotto didn't possess enough of an equalizer in his left hook, he'd have no shot to win. Well, he didn't. As evidenced during the fight, Mayweather was never shook or in trouble one time during the fight. Yes, he got hit more than he has since he fought Jose Luis Castillo 10 years ago, but he never had the look of a fighter who wished he was somewhere else.
When all is said an done, Cotto was trying to fight two styles against a fighter who had an answer for any and everything he attempted. It's easy to highlight what Cotto didn't do, but it's really more about Mayweather and how versatile and great he is. Floyd showed just how physically strong he is and won a lot of the inside exchanges where it was thought to be to Cotto's advantage (just as Sugar Ray Leonard did during his epic bout with Marvin Hagler). And if Cotto couldn't overwhelm Mayweather on the inside, what was left for him to do?
Mayweather did everything against Cotto, he boxed, he slugged, he used the ring, he fought as the aggressor and also fought off the ropes. He excelled in every facet and what's more is — when he was pushed and it looked as if Cotto had something going, Mayweather, like all the greats have done before him, came out in the next round and immediately seized the control back of the fight. This illustrated his character and showed everyone watching that he is every bit as smart, tough and determined as he says he is.
Oh, he's also creative. Of course the broadcast never commented on this. But how many times did Mayweather make Cotto pay with something new he introduced during the fight? That is when he feinted a left hook, then feinted a straight right hand, only to turn it into a lead right hook and nail Cotto perfectly on the point of his chin. That was a thing of beauty to watch.
Because Mayweather has cherry picked opponents for a large portion of his career, he's been open to criticism regarding just how great or terrific he is. But he showed against Castillo in their rematch and Cotto this past weekend, when he's pushed he's very able and capable of answering the call. The problem is he hasn't faced enough of the upper-tier class of opponents who were around to push him.
As of this writing his signature win is beating Cotto. Yet, does that certify his greatness? Maybe, maybe not. It was said here before the fight that Mayweather waited for the right time to fight Cotto. I still believe that. But I must submit, based on their recent fight, I now believe Mayweather would've defeated Cotto at any point during their careers had they met. The fight was competitive between them but it was never in doubt that it was going to be Mayweather's night.
The only fighter who one can make a case for to beat Mayweather is Manny Pacquiao. Well nothing has changed on my part. The more I've seen of Mayweather and Pacquiao as of late, the more I'm convinced that Mayweather will beat Pacquiao by a clear cut decision and control the action most of the way.
The truth is, Floyd Mayweather is no doubt a great fighter. The unknown is we just don't know how great he is.