If Miguel Cotto wants to beat Floyd Mayweather
By Kirk Jackson
There are several things defending WBA Super Welterweight Champion Miguel Cotto must do if he wants to retain his championship against Floyd Mayweather this upcoming Saturday:
Photo: Gene Blevins/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy
Effectively use the jab. Jab the shoulders, wear down his body. Throw sharp jabs to the head, throw double jabs. You cannot throw one jab at a time on a consistent basis, because Mayweather will time your jab and counter all day. He will use his pull counter, and get into a groove where he will start operating like a surgeon. Using the jab can throw off Mayweather’s timing and neutralize his speed. It can also set up Cotto’s offense and defense. This is going to be his most valuable weapon.
Attack the body. Attack the body every chance you get, focus exclusively on the body. The head can move, the shoulders can shift, but the torso is easier to follow. Remember, Mayweather’s toughest fight came against the likes of the bigger Jose Luis Castillo back when he and Mayweather fought in 2002. What was so effective for Castillo, was he went to Mayweather’s body early and often, and as Mayweather’s hands dropped to protect his body as the fight progressed, Castillo was able to land some effective head shots on Mayweather. Historically, Latino fighters are great body punchers, and Cotto is known as one of the premier body punchers in the sport, although we haven’t seen the vicious body attacks from him in recent fights. He needs to get back to that.
Keep your composure. Mayweather is the master at mind games. Whether it’s talking trash in and out of the ring, being boisterous at weigh-ins, press conferences or episodes of the promotional hype show 24/7, Mayweather is always trying to find a mental advantage. The usual stone-faced Cotto does a great job of keeping his emotions in check; he even did so against the likes of cigarette smoking, wild-man Ricardo Mayorga. Cotto needs to maintain his poise and resolve, even when faced with dire circumstances, because when a shark smells blood it will strike. If Cotto shows signs of mental or physical fatigue like he did against Antonio Margarito in their first fight, or like he did against Joshua Clottey, Mayweather will capitalize and may possibly get a knock out. Also, we have seen what happens when a fighter loses his composure against Mayweather. Victor Ortiz grew frustrated and resorted to head butting, which ultimately led to his knock out. Ricky Hatton over-pressed on his attack and left himself open for a signature, fight-ending check left hook from Mayweather, that sent his hopes crashing into the corner ring post. Arturo Gatti over-pressed for his attack and proceeded to swing wildly after suffering a knock down from Mayweather in the first round of their 2005 fight, and the list goes on.
Make it a tough fight and apply constant pressure. Make things rough for Mayweather, make it a dogfight, and give him hell. Cotto is probably going to have to walk through a hailstorm of punches in order to do so, but Cotto is a few years younger, physically stronger and Mayweather is moving up in weight to face Cotto. Try to apply pressure similar to what Hatton did against Mayweather in their fight back in 2007. Although Hatton wasn’t able to land any significant punches, Hatton made the early rounds tough for Mayweather, often knocking him off balance and affecting his spacing. Crowd Mayweather, throw in a few low blows, rabbit punches, make it ugly, because if you allow Mayweather time to think and you stand back and box with him, you’re going to lose every single time.
Remember what you’re fighting for. You have the rare opportunity to dethrone the sport’s top fighter, a guy who is undefeated and who will ultimately go down as one of the all-time great fighters. This is your chance to make a significant mark in history: dare to be great. Whether Cotto is able to implement all of these tactics remains to be seen, but his chances of success will certainly increase if he is able to apply at least some of these strategies.
Many have tried, many have failed: this Saturday we will see what Cotto can do.