By Hans Olson
In Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel The Old Man and The Sea, there’s a line that reads “man is not made for defeat…[a] man can be destroyed, but not defeated.”
If ever there was a fighter that which is defined by the former, it’s Floyd Mayweather.
No truer can the latter be applied to than with Miguel Cotto.
In as good a performance he’s turned in during his remarkable career, Floyd Mayweather defeated Miguel Cotto last Saturday night in Las Vegas, taking his unblemished record to a staggering 43-0.
And although official scorecards read 118-110, and 117-111 (twice), Miguel Cotto pushed Floyd in a way he hadn’t been pushed since his first meeting with Jose Luis Castillo over ten years ago.
Miguel Cotto has been destroyed before–in 2008 by an Antonio Margarito who many believe had loaded gloves, and in 2009 by a peak-performance Manny Pacquiao–though at an all too unforgiving catch-weight of 145 lb.
Destroyed, but never defeated, Cotto bounced back to win the WBA’s Super Welterweight Championship the following summer against Yuri Foreman.
He lost that belt on Saturday night.
He was defeated, even with the playing field now level, and with a comfortable weight 9 lb. heavier than was his official weight against Pacquiao.
Even with 10 ounce gloves.
Even with a newfound confidence in his abilities under the masterful tutelage of Pedro Diaz (and with the knowledge he soaked up in two prior training camps with the legendary Emanuel Steward).
Last Saturday night, Miguel Cotto (who Mayweather repeatedly said he viewed as undefeated) was finally defeated.
On Saturday May 5, we saw Miguel Cotto at his best.
Unfortunately, everybody’s best isn’t good enough against THE best…Floyd Mayweather.
Sure, Manny Pacquiao remains as a formidable challenge, as does middleweight kingpin Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez. Apart from them, Miguel Cotto represented “the last of the Mohicans,” as Floyd referred to him after the bout.
“You’ve complimented me with your persistence and patience, but the decision I’ve come to is this,” said Madaleine Stowe’s character Cora Monroe in the 1992 film aforementioned by Floyd.
“I would rather make the gravest of mistakes than surrender my own judgment.”
The gravest mistake of Floyd Mayweather at this point in his career would be fighting Manny Pacquiao on anything other than his own terms. His own judgement knows better than to take the bait offered by many of the uniformed.
Floyd Mayweather can and will fight Manny Pacquiao: it just has to be when the time is right.
The time would be right, right now—if Manny Pacquiao wasn’t with Bob Arum and Top Rank.
That last point should be glaringly obvious. Certainly, a Floyd Mayweather fight with Miguel Cotto might have been better in 2007 or 2008, even though we likely would have seen the same result that we saw over the weekend.
What’s the major difference between then and now?
Miguel Cotto is no longer with Top Rank. (Nor did he “sign” with Golden Boy as many have incorrectly stated.)
Many thought it was insane of Floyd to buy out of his deal with Top Rank years ago, paying $750,000 to do things HIS way. If he took a proposed bout with Antonio Margarito then—a fight that Arum offered Floyd a then-career high offer of $8 million—we wouldn’t be seeing Mayweather as the face of boxing today. That decision of Floyd not only helped himself—it helped other fighters.
Fighters like Manny Pacquiao.
Without Floyd’s trailblazing tactics, we wouldn’t see Manny Pacquiao as the superstar he is today. If Floyd took Arum’s offer, we would’ve never gotten Mayweather/De La Hoya. Which means we wouldn’t have gotten Mayweather/Hatton. Which means we wouldn’t have gotten HBO’s 24/7…the very platform that took Manny Pacquiao from hardcore fan interest to superstardom against…you guessed it, Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton.
From the fact that Manny’s incredible victories over Oscar and Ricky rivaled Floyd’s performances (and many believe overshadowed them)…we then get enough public interest and mainstream appeal for the super-fight the world now wants: Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao.
In ESPN: The Magazine’s recent “Money Issue” that Floyd graced the cover of, a column on the “Top-Paid Athletes” worldwide listed Manny Pacquiao’s 2011 earnings against Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez (two other fighters Floyd had previously defeated) at $50,000,000. Floyd Mayweather, came behind Manny at $40,000,000—but what’s important to note is that his earnings came in just one fight, against Victor Ortiz.
Floyd made in one fight 80% of what Manny made in two.
The math isn’t difficult.
In The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago’s most difficult opposition is that of a giant marlin. The symbolism of the marlin as Santiago’s greatest challenge, one that is almost unattainable, is what boxing goes through in the quest to reel in what could be the biggest fight of all time, for “everything kills everything else in some way.”
The fight has been killed time and time again, and we’re likely to see it killed again in the not too distant future.
It appears that the only way we’re ever going to see Manny Pacquiao fight Floyd Mayweather, is if the old man in Las Vegas, Bob Arum, isn’t involved.