After Floyd Mayweather’s victory against Miguel Cotto, I asked Roy Jones Jr. and Evander Holyfield to give their take on the action. Both Hall of Famers disagreed with my 9-3 scorecard in favor of Floyd Mayweather. Both said Cotto won more rounds and used the same words to describe their point – ring generalship.
Nearly all sitting ringside were in agreement that Floyd Mayweather beat Miguel Cotto. By how much he won, and how he got there, is a different debate. So I asked the two legends to find out the answer.
Roy Jones Jr. and Evander Holyfield have had their share of dominant victories and close, controversial decisions. In 1999, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis fought to a draw when many thought Lewis deserved the nod. In 2003, Jones won a decision over Antonio Tarver that some still dispute. Yet Holyfield and Jones were in agreement about what transpired between Mayweather and Cotto.
Roy said, “Cotto deserved more rounds because he is the champ and he fought his fight. Floyd won the fight, but it was fought at Cotto’s pace. They fought Cotto’s style. And he is the champion. You have to make the champ adapt. Floyd did not do that. He fought Cotto’s fight. I think Floyd won. But I disagree with 118-110, or even 117-111. Come on, you mean to tell me Cotto only won two rounds? He wasn’t shook until the end.“
The lines blur between publicly recognized champions and the linear ones in boxing. Names announced first in the ring, and how many “champions” there are per weight class promotes confusion.
After the fight, Miguel Cotto, the recognized 154-pound champion going in, stated that he respects the judges’ decision but he thought he did enough to earn the victory. Jones does not fault the Puerto Rican for the mindset.
“I don’t blame Cotto for feeling like he won,” Jones said. “Because look, if you are champion and I fought you the way you want me to fight you, you would think you won too.”
The expression ‘ring generalship’ has a different meaning to those that have been in the trenches and have a distinct level of understanding of the fight game. To the common eye, boxing is black and white, blood and guts, win and lose. Jones,Holyfield, and many others with experienced eyes have a developed point of view.
“It was a close fight,”Holyfield said, echoing Jones. “See, that’s the thing with some of these judges. You never know how it will go. The system is flawed. If it’s close, who is to say they won’t give a round to one guy or the other guy? It hurts the fighters. The system is inconsistent.”
After the tenth round of the exciting Mayweather/Cotto bout, I leaned to quickly ask veteran boxer Ishe Smith how he felt about the action. When he started talking I knew I was on to something because fighters see details. They point out subtle mannerisms seldom seen by the average fan. They look at pace, body control, poise, movement and dirty tactics among other things. Smith pointed out Cotto’s roughhousing before referee Tony Weeks. (Granted Smith was in Floyd’s camp.)
I hear the same language from Andre Ward. Ward walks me through a fighter’s mind when we watch together, tells me why they move or punch the way that they do, and what he would do if he was in that particular position. Boxers have a stronger level of understanding to the elements of the game. There is no way around it.
A few weeks before Mayweather/Cotto, Ward, his managers Antonio Leonard, James Prince, and I had an interesting discussion about Floyd Mayweather’s split decision victory over Oscar De la Hoya five years ago. Most thought Floyd won 8 rounds to 4. Maybe nine rounds to three. But one official judge for the bout scored it 115-113 in favor of Oscar De La Hoya.
Imagine the impact on the sport if one of the other two judges saw it the same way.Mayweather would no longer be undefeated, Oscar De La Hoya’s legend would be even stronger, who knows if there would be a rematch, and Floyd’s persona would have been forever altered. Just like Biff Tannen going back to the future to use the Sports Almanac. The world of boxing can turn upside down because an imperfect human being like you and me, who watches the same sport we do, has a bad day.
After the 10thround of Mayweather vs.Cotto,Ishe Smith said, “It’s close, maybe 7-3 or 6-4. I don’t trust these judges. They might be seeing a different fight. Crowds going crazy every time he (Floyd) gets touched.”
I said, “But Floyd’s never been hit like that.” Smith said, “I know, that’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if Cotto is up on one of the scorecards.”
In the end, official judges scorecards read 118-110, 118-110, and 117-111 for the winner Floyd Mayweather.
Twenty years from now people are going to remember that Floyd Mayweather beat Miguel Cotto; it will not matter how he got there. But it might have mattered if two judges felt like Jones,Holyfield, and Smith to greater degree.
Follow Ray on Twitter @Raymarkarian
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