MAYWEATHER-COTTO: 4 YEARS TOO LATE?
By Tommy Canez
For many boxing fans, Saturday's Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto fight is being delivered way past the expiration date. The public clamored for this fight back in 2008 when both fighters were coming off career best victories. In 2007, Floyd Mayweather had defeated Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton while Miguel Cotto had defeated Zab Judah and Shane Mosley. In 2008, this fight was very intriguing and the public was demanding that these two get into the ring to battle for welterweight supremacy. Instead, Mayweather did the seemingly unthinkable by retiring in the prime of his career in order to avoid the serious threat that Cotto presented. Mayweather claimed he needed to take a long vacation. Boxing fans know what happened next. Cotto went on to be brutally beaten by Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao to the point where many say he is not the same fighter he once was.
A lot has happened since 2008. Miguel Cotto has fought 8 times, going 6-2. But those victories coming against lesser fighters like Alfonso Gomez (KO 5), Michael Jennings (TKO 5), Joshua Clottey (SD 12), Yuri Foreman (TKO 9), Ricardo Mayorga (TKO 12) and his rematch against Antonio Margarito who had a surgically repaired eye (KO 10). His two losses came at the hands of Margarito and Pacquiao. Cotto accumulated a lot of wear and tear on his brain and body in those eight fights which is why he has altered his style to further prolong his career.
Cotto has also went through three new trainers since 2008. First, he split with his longtime trainer and uncle, Evangelista Cotto after the Michael Jennings fight. For his next fight, Joe Santiago who was a longtime member of the Cotto camp, took over as head trainer for Cotto's fights against Clottey and Pacquiao. After Pacquiao beat Cotto to a pulp, Cotto hired the great Emanuel Steward who worked with Cotto for his fights against Foreman and Mayorga. Cotto and Steward had a great relationship but they respectfully and mutually seperated after what Cotto called a "calendar conflict." This created the opportunity for Pedro Diaz, who was the former coach of the Cuban amateur boxing team, to be hired as Cotto's new trainer. In December 2011, Diaz helped Cotto defeat Margarito in the rematch by devising a strategic gameplan that utilized Cotto's strengths. On the surface, the Diaz-Cotto combination seems to be a successful one but success cannot be measured by only one fight. The true test will come this Saturday on Cinco De Mayo if Cotto miraculously defeats Mayweather which is very doubtful.
For Mayweather, not much has changed for him. He remains undefeated and is 3-0 since he ended his retirement in 2009. He has fought only once per year against opponents he knew he could beat. He returned to outclass the smaller lightweight Juan Manuel Marquez and won a 12 round decision at welterweight. In 2010, he fought the past his prime Shane Mosley, who hadn't fought in over a year prior to getting into the ring with Mayweather, and won a 12 round decision in a fight that was competitive for 2 rounds until Mayweather dominated him. (Another fight that could have taken place years earlier). After the Mosley victory, he decided to retire again. He then returned in September of 2011 to face the mentally flawed, underskilled, and young Victor Ortiz and won by knockout in a controversial victory. During this time span, Floyd did not incur any significant damage to his brain or body.
Since Cotto's losses to Margarito and Pacquiao, he is no longer the fighter who beautifully stalked his opponents and walked them down with vicious hooks to the body and head. He is no longer the fighter who can absorb massive punishment and keep fighting. Instead, when he is in against a top notch fighter and things get too hot in the kitchen, he prefers to retreat to avoid getting burned instead of fighting the fire. These days, Cotto relies more on avoiding punches, utilizing the ring, flurrying, and getting out of harms way.
Conversely, Floyd Mayweather's skills remain intact and is as defensively and offensively gifted as he was before he retired. The only noticeable difference in Mayweather's style is that he no longer overuses his legs as he did against Baldomir and instead likes to utilize his new found strength to fight inside the pocket while utilizing all of his skills.
The consensus among boxing fans is that this fight will be another blowout in favor of Mayweather. There is nothing that would indicate otherwise. The boxing public knows that these two fighters have taken different paths since 2008 and that Cotto has incurred the most damage while Mayweather has not. The boxing public knows that Floyd Mayweather has a history of avoiding fighters who are in their prime and instead he'd rather wait them out until they are on the decline before facing them. He did it against Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, and now he is doing it against Miguel Cotto. Very soon, it will happen when he finally signs to fight Pacquiao. Pacquiao's decline is imminent and is 2-3 fights from being noticeable because of his frenetic fighting style. Only then will Mayweather sign on the dotted line and do away with all of the excuses. Only by then, the Pacquiao vs Mayweather fight will also be past its expiration date and delivered too late when fans no longer care and the intrigue is long gone.
Unfortunately, for most boxing fans, they have been deprived of prime vs prime fights that they have clamored to see Mayweather participate in and instead have been given expired leftovers and that are difficult to digest. Boxing fans can expect a bitter taste and churning feeliing in the pit of their stomachs after watching Mayweather beat another big name fighter on Saturday who's best days are behind him and has little to no chance of winning. The small number of fans that believe Cotto has a chance are the loyal Cotto contingent who believe that Pedro Diaz will be the difference maker. However, those same fans should be cognizant of the fact that the same was said when Mayweather fought De La Hoya and Mosley where many believed the trainers would be the difference makers. For De La Hoya, it was the great Freddie Roach who was supposed to be the difference maker. For Mosley, it was the great Nazeem Richardson. Boxing fans know what happened there; two fighters (De La Hoya and Mosley) who were not the same and could no longer pull the trigger as they once did. On Saturday, we can expect more of the same.
Send questions or comments to