by Charles Jay
Some people I’ve talked to don’t think the Floyd Mayweather-Miguel Cotto fight is going to do all that well. I would tend to disagree with that. Putting together two of the top three draws in pay-per-view can’t help but bring a winner, even with Mayweather’s guarantee of $32 million.
Photo: Tom Hogan/ Hogan Photos/ Golden Boy
The question for Mayweather is whether this is going to be one of his final major highlights, with doubt as to his willingness to get in there with Manny Pacquiao.
For Cotto, a defeat would put him at a certain crossroads, in that he will have gotten his paydays against Mayweather and Pacquiao, not to mention revenge over Antonio Margarito, and there are comparatively low paydays in his future, because of the lack of dance partners out there. Sure, you can mix and match him with a few others, but how soon before he is considered irrelevant, especially if he doesn’t make a very strong showing here?
When Top Rank first signed Cotto, they were hopeful of creating some De La Hoya-like excitement, and while they wound up with a useful draw who made action fights, he has still been a guy who’s a cut below the absolute best, a group that includes the 42-0 Mayweather.
Accordingly, it’s the class difference that is central to analyzing this fight.
Some folks feel the difference is a lot more considerable than others. Someone I really respect in boxing thinks this is going to look like Mayweather’s dismantling of Arturo Gatti. I don’t see that happening, because Cotto has more natural ability, more speed, and is, in general, a better fighter than Gatti was.
But there’s no question that his work is cut out for him if he even wants to stay with Mayweather for very long.
It would be no surprise if Cotto got off to a good start; Mayweather is the type who will let you get into the fight. I’m thinking that during this time Cotto really has to do some of his best work. That’s because it will get too late very quickly. Mayweather operates a little like a locomotive, in that it may take a while for him to work up some steam, but then he moves past his opponent in the third, fourth and fifth rounds and works up an accelerated pace, and by the time you’re in the final third of the fight they’ve generally got nothing left except desperation punching, which plays into Floyd’s hands, because he will nail you if you are open.
We all know that we’ve seen Cotto, on occasion, circle the ring and try to create the impression of being a slick boxer. And I wondered whether that could be a useful tactic for him here. But turning Mayweather into the pursuer could have more negatives than positives for him. For one thing, it allows Mayweather to find safety much easier, and it is just not a natural way of doing things for a fighter that possesses Cotto’s assets; It’s just not a “plus” strategy for him.
He needs to be aggressive, with the intention of putting Mayweather in some uncomfortable positions; namely, to make him work three minutes of every round, to use something of a cliche. Mayweather is so confident that the opponent can’t get through his defense that he will often lay on the ropes, with guard up, and find out what his foe can do. This is when Cotto may want to think about going to the body, digging with the left hook, which is the punch he throws best. He needs to get Floyd’s respect, not just the illusion of it.
Of course, it’s Mayweather’s sneaky left hook that is going to be the thing that Cotto has to look out for when he’s close enough. He could get caught with it again and again. That’s why I doubt Cotto will be able to close the distance with any regularity; that, and the prospect of getting hit solid with some kind of counterpunch. Guys just don’t wade in with impunity against Mayweather.
I’ve heard a lot about how Cotto is the “naturally bigger man.” That will have minimal effect, if any. Both these guys have fought at 147 or above for quite a while now, and Mayweather is just fine at 152. Besides, this is not going to be a game of “grab, hold and wrestle.” This is a game of speed and technique, and Cotto, while not a stiff in those areas, simply doesn’t have enough of either.
There is tremendous potential for a greater percentage of clean punches to land with each passing round. I think that Cotto can gut it out for a while, but only until he doesn’t want to gut it out anymore. By that time the preponderance of punches will bring an end to this fight in the eleventh round.