Floyd Mayweather defeated a resilient Miguel Cotto to become WBA light-middleweight champion, refining his undefeated record to 43-0 and winning his eight world title.
The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas proved a telling venue for a fight which will be remembered as a true classic, with Mayweather having to overcome his toughest opponent yet. In a month’s time Manny Pacquiao will face Timothy Bradley in the same ring, and Mayweather laid down a marker for ‘Pacman‘ with his most inspiring performance for a while.
Leading up to this fight ‘Money’ was continuingly respectful of Cotto’s credentials, labelling him as a future Hall of Famer and in his opinion an undefeated fighter, because of certain circumstances in his two professional defeats to Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito.
“Miguel is a true warrior, a tough champion and to go into the Hall Of Fame you have to face the best opponents. I will be at my best. I have been here so many times that I know what it takes.”
The Puerto Rican did not disappoint and despite the 117-111, 117-111, 118-110 unanimous decision, he gave the formally named ‘Pretty Boy’ a bloody nose and mouth half way through the fight.
Mayweather has only stepped up into the 154lbs division once before in his flawless career, in the split-decision victory over Oscar De La Hoya five years ago. That match was to become the most lucrative fight ever, and early indications are that last night’s fight against Cotto surpassed the pay-per-view record. In what will be Mayweather’s last fight until he starts his 90 day prison sentence on June 1st for domestic assault, a guaranteed $32m (likely to rise to $50m) will help soothe Mayweather’s bruising and impending punishment.
The initial rounds went to Mayweather, who used his supreme boxing skills to pick off Cotto when he came in. Despite covering his face constantly, Mayweather was able to work on the outside expertly well and left Cotto with a trademark bruised face. The American was happy to sit against the ropes, use his perfect elusive defensive tool of hiding his chin under his left shoulder to nullify the shots and weaved expertly.
Despite this, Cotto eventually upped the antics and from round six started to get the upper hand on Mayweather, landing more shots than fans have come to expect and making the strategist miss more punches than normal. Neither man hit the canvass, although Cotto was rocked by a left uppercut in the final round. In the end despite the high work rate from Cotto, Mayweather’s punching accuracy of 26% proved too much, and he recorded arguably his greatest victory to date, one which he dedicated to the PPV fans who deserved the entertainment.
“When you fight on pay-per-view you have to give the fans what they want, and that’s excitement. Sometimes I thought I was breaking him down, but then he came back strong. I was like damn, he’s in shape.”
Some experts before the fight said Cotto was on the decline, but a spirited performance like this will show the 31-year-old still has a future in the sport, and his new scientific centred trainer Pedro Diaz will keep the faith.
“The judges said I lost the fight, I can’t do anything else,” Cotto said. “I’m happy with my fight and performance and so is my family. I can’t ask for anything else.”
‘The Money Team’, the entourage which included usual sidekick 50 Cent and also Justin Bieber and WWE superstar Triple H, will reflect on a challenging evening for Mayweather, but the 35-year-old, who many argued looked in his greatest shape ever pre-fight, on this performance looks good for his word that he has a few years left in him.
Post-match he did not avoid the inevitable discussions of Pacquiao, but once more laid blame at the Filipino’s feet.
“This fight right here, I was looking to fight Manny Pacquiao. The fight didn’t happen; I don’t think the fight could happen because of Bob Arum. Bob Arum was in the way – he stopped the Pacquiao fight. Let’s give the fans what they want to see. They want to see Mayweather-Pacquiao.”
Mayweather said in the build-up to the fight he would capitalise on the mistakes Cotto would make from his pressuring, and despite the buoyant effort from the Puerto Rican, ‘Money’ showed why he is regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.