Let's make one thing perfectly clear. Regardless of how some people scored the fight, Floyd Mayweather did a masterful job in dethroning Miguel Cotto on Saturday night, in what I consider one of his best ever nights. Yes, there have been better performances in the past from Mayweather – his ring artistry in the Corrales and Gatti fights remain his signature performances – but this may have been his most complete performance in showing both his offensive and defensive brilliance. However, despite Mayweather chalking up his 43rd career win, against zero losses, you could say May 5th was the night that finally ended any and all hope of this generation's defining fight involving boxing's biggest and boxing's best, between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacqiuao.
Prior to Saturday night, Floyd Mayweather was in pole position so to speak, with regards to the ongoing saga that is Mayweather versus Pacquiao and in particular, how the fight would actually turn out. Boxing has always been full of triangle theories – if fighter A beats fighter B and B beats C, then surely fighter A beats fighter C. Of course, as any boxing enthusiast will tell you, there is a styles dynamic to boxing that doesn't always allow the sport to work in this manner. Nonetheless, before Saturday night, Mayweather would have been a clear favourite over Manny Pacquiao, based on his dominance – and Manny's lack of – in besting Juan Manuel Marquez.
As we all know, Floyd prides himself on how he managed to master Marquez with relative ease, whereas Pacquiao somewhat struggled with the very same Marquez across three fights. Agree or disagree, I believe it's Mayweather's way of establishing dominance over Pacquiao, without actually having to climb into the ring with him. To further my point, I believe that Miguel Cotto was specifically chosen as Mayweather's opponent on Saturday night to further enhance his percieved domination over Pacquiao – if Mayweather fared better against Cotto than Pacquiao did, then he would have even more reason to claim superiority over his Filipino rival. Bragging rights would well and truly belong to Mayweather.
As we all know by now, things did not quite go according to plan. Like I said earlier, I thought Floyd was brilliant on Saturday, especially in taking the fight to Cotto. However, because Mayweather put on one of his most aggressive displays in recent memory, you could say he may have won the Cotto battle on Saturday night, but he may have lost the Pacquiao bragging rights war. More importantly, events on Saturday night could result in never seeing Mayweather and Pacquiao in the ring together in a competitive way.
Mayweather's wish list.
Make no mistake, Mayweather would have loved nothing more than to top Manny Pacquiao's -12th round stoppage – winning effort over Miguel Cotto. This is why we saw a Floyd Mayweather who threw nearly 400 power punches – almost more than the average number of total punches Mayweather usually throws in a 12 round fight – against Cotto. Mayweather also nearly threw in excess of 700 total punches, a huge output for the normally conservative Floyd Mayweather. Undoubtedly, Mayweather was going for the knockout on Saturday night. The fact that he didn't get it may have resulted in irreversible damage to the ego of maybe the most egotistical sportsman currently walking the planet. As good as I thought Mayweather was on Saturday night, apart from a brief moment late in the 12th round, Mayweather never really looked close to stopping Cotto. Manny Pacquiao on the other hand, managed to hurt Cotto on numerous occasions. Against Mayweather, Miguel Cotto fought as if the trophy at the end of the fight would be his life. Against Pacquiao, Cotto appeared to run for his life.
On Saturday, Mayweather hit Cotto with some really spiteful punches, particularly his overhand right and left uppercut combination. Yet Cotto remained undeterred. On the other hand, Pacquiao inflicted damage upon Cotto even with glancing blows. It's not hard to imagine what Floyd Mayweather must be thinking right now is it?
I consider Saul Alvarez to be one of the hardest punchers in boxing – nobody knocks out the ever durable Carlos Baldomir with a single shot without possessing some serious fire power. Saul Alvarez – who must have weighed around 165 pounds on fight night – hit Shane Mosley with some truly terrible shots on Saturday night. Alvarez was throwing bombs, and I mean…bombs. Shane Mosley's response? He walked right through them. Let's go back to Shane Mosley's fight with Manny Pacquiao. Early in that fight, Pacquiao landed a left hand on Mosley that did not appear to be that big of a punch. Mosley went down. His response upon beating the count? Mosley fought the rest of the fight in survival mode, and then claimed Pacquiao was the hardest puncher he ever faced. Mayweather, who was hurt big time himself in round two against Mosley, didn't really come close to stopping Sugar Shane throughout their bout.
Again, if Floyd believed there was something suspicious with regards to Manny Pacquiao's punching power before May 5th, one can only imagine what he maybe thinking now.
Suddenly, it's Manny Pacquiao who now appears to be in the driving seat. A quick glance at their respective results against common opponents suggests this;
Pacquiao TKO 8 De La Hoya Mayweather SD De La Hoya
Pacquiao TKO 2 Hatton Mayweather TKO 10 Hatton
Pacquiao TKO 12 Cotto Mayweather UD Cotto
Pacquiao UD Mosley Mayweather UD Mosley *
Pacquiao UD/SD/D Marquez Mayweather UD Marquez
* Pacquiao was more dominant over Mosley than Mayweather was. Unlike Mayweather, Pacquiao scored a knockdown and was never hurt himself.
We know Floyd Mayweather thrives on his own perceptions – there is no doubting, he believes his own words. When he says he is the greatest of all time based on the notion that he has never lost a fight, whereas fighters like Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali have, rest assured he believes it. Before Saturday, Mayweather believed he was superior to Pacquiao because of what he was able to do to Marquez in contrast with what Pacquiao was unable to do to Marquez.
It is no secret that before May 5th, one of the biggest stumbling blocks that stood in the way of making the mega-fight a reality was Mayweather's obsessive allegations that Pacquiao's weight jumping exploits were not legit. Now ask yourself, are we really any closer to the fight becoming a reality? During the post fight interview, Mayweather again mentioned Pacquiao's name, claiming that Pacquiao is refusing to take the test. So we are back on the testing protocol are we? Last week it was the purse split, the week before it was the arena, the week before that it was the lawsuit.
The point is, we are probably now further away from the fight becoming a reality than ever before. The fact that Mayweather could not stop Cotto, and Pacquiao could and that Alvarez, a huge junior middleweight could not put Mosley on his keester and Pacquiao could, will further enhance his beliefs that something is awry. On a personal note, I believe Mosley saw every one of Alvarez' shots coming and was able to take the mustard out of a lot of them, whereas Pacquiao caught Mosley on the blindside – it's the punches you don't see that hurt, remember.
Nevertheless, Floyd Mayweather truly believes that something is amiss with regards to Manny's freakish power as he likes to say. In reality, Pacquiao hasn't scored a knockout over anyone weighing 147 pounds or over, yet we have heard Mayweather boast about how unnatural it is for a featherweight to be knocking out junior middleweights.
I've always felt Pacquiao's style, not power, would be very problematic for Mayweather. Yet after Saturday night, I think Mayweather's strength could be more of a deciding factor than I first thought – Mayweather was like a venus flytrap in tying up and man handling Cotto at close quarters. After Saturday night, I now view the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight a lot closer, after originally believing Manny would have the upper hand.
None of this really matters though, Floyd had already, it is quite possible, made up his mind before May 5th that the fight was never going to happen. The events of May 5th have only but enhanced this notion. The fantasy fight that we all crave, will forever remain just that, a fantasy.