In less than a week, the flamboyant, undefeated king of boxing Floyd “Money” Mayweather will face off against the hard-hitting and gritty Miguel Cotto for Cotto’s WBA Super Light Middleweight title. On May 5th, fans may finally get their wish and see Mayweather in a tough fight, although that may be a stretch. Floyd has proven time and again that he is just too technically sound, defensively supreme, and accurate to lose. To me, this fight seems more like a stepping stone to the inevitable showdown with Manny Pacquiao for Floyd. But can Cotto shock the world? Let’s find out.
The obvious advantage for Cotto is the fact that the bout will take place at 154 pounds, which means Floyd is moving up in weight to take on the Puerto Rican slugger at his most comfortable weight. Being at this weight, Cotto will have to utilize his power and his relentlessness. In Mayweather’s previous bout with Victor Ortiz, he was schooling the youngster for three rounds. At the end of the fourth, Ortiz was making some headway by pressing Floyd, until he idiotically head-butted and pissed of the champ, which resulted in a somewhat cheap but legal knockout for Mayweather. The point here is that Ortiz was succeeding when pressing. This must be the blueprint for Cotto, but he has to be smart about it. Organized aggression I like to call it.
However, I’ve said it time and again, Mayweather (42-0) has been there before. There’s nothing he hasn’t seen or faced inside the boxing ring. The 37-2 Cotto must recapture his youth and fight the fight of his life to pull off the upset. While Floyd just has to go by the protocol and exploit Cotto’s aggression with his great defense and unmatched counter punching, Cotto has to have a strategy in place to utilize his strengths while stopping Mayweather from making him pay for every mistake. That can and will be a tall task, and it’s why Mayweather is so great.
There’s absolutely no chance that Cotto outboxes Mayweather, nobody can. His only hope to win this fight is to throw power punches and rely on his ferocious, signature body attack. He must press Floyd and land significant shots when he forces Floyd to engage. Oscar De La Hoya attempted this when he and Floyd squared off, and although Oscar was throwing punches in bunches, he was wild and innacurate, and Mayweather won that fight with his accurate counter punches during these exchanges. I see a similar plot unfolding when he faces Cotto.
Let’s run down the checklist. Can Cotto outbox Floyd? No. Can his strategy be based around footwork and trading jabs? No. Can he use speed and skill to beat the fastest and most skilled fighter on the planet? No. So that leaves one shot for Cotto, and that’s power, heart, and aggression all rolled into one. He has to have the edge in power punches thrown and landed, for two reasons. It will keep him close on the cards and increase his chances for a knockout, because if it goes to the cards it’s extremely unlikely he wins the fight.
On the flipside, Mayweather knows the only strategy Cotto can have his aggression and power. He will tailor his game plan around this, like he did against De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez and Victor Ortiz. In all four fights, Mayweather looked like he was giving boxing lessons. I am not sure Cotto can do anything differently than what these guys did attempting to rattle Mayweather. It just doesn’t happen, Floyd is too fast, too technically sound, and too smart defensively. By all logic, he should win this fight assuming he doesn’t let Cotto catch him with a surprise. The only chance I give Cotto is a puncher’s chance. But as we have seen, sometimes that’s the only chance someone needs.
In terms of a prediction, I see a unanimous decision victory for “Money” May as he improves to 43-0. He’s not going to let Cotto get inside often, he will outbox Cotto on the outside and rely on his speed and accuracy to win rounds, while avoiding making a mistake and letting Cotto catch him with too many power punches. I even think Mayweather could possibly get a knockout, especially as the fight progresses and Cotto becomes desperate, but if he’s clearly winning on the cards Mayweather won’t put himself in harm’s way. Rack up another win for the pound-for-pound king, and hopefully after this fight we can look towards his long awaited showdown with the only other premier boxer of this generation, Manny Pacquiao.
Senior Columnist: Jim Racalto
Follow me on Twitter: @HurricaneJ22