Sunday, May 6, 2012 | 2 a.m.
- Mayweather vs. Cotto: Can the underdog turn this megafight into something special?
- Mayweather and Cotto make weight for Saturday night’s super welterweight bout
- Miguel Cotto cites ‘great chemistry’ with his trainer for newfound confidence
- Floyd Mayweather Jr. makes impassioned case against ever fighting Manny Pacquiao
- Floyd Mayweather Jr. working overtime to promote Saturday’s fight against Miguel Cotto
- Floyd Mayweather Jr. takes center stage at media day for his May 5 bout in Vegas
- All MMA/boxing coverage
Floyd Mayweather Jr. climbed the ropes and raised his hands victoriously Saturday night, certain that he had just claimed win No. 43 in his historic career.
The judges agreed, handing Mayweather a decisive unanimous victory against Miguel Cotto. A few rounds earlier, though, this moment was anything but a sure thing.
Mayweather got trapped against the ropes. He left himself open to some combinations. He bled.
And then Mayweather did what he always does. He won.
“When fights are on pay-per-view, you want to give the fans what they paid for, and that's excitement,” Mayweather said. “It comes with the territory when you fight a future Hall of Famer like Miguel Cotto. I had to fight hard, suck it up.”
The judges scored the victory 117-111, 117-111 and 118-110 in favor of Mayweather, giving him the WBA super welterweight title. He moves to 43-0 while Cotto falls to 37-3.
Always confident, Mayweather earned that moment in the corner of the ring at MGM Grand Garden Arena. He also earned another, significantly different, moment that will come on June 1, when Mayweather begins a nearly three-month prison sentence for domestic abuse.
Many speculated that the impending incarceration would affect Mayweather in the ring. With that question answered, the focus moves to how it may affect him moving forward.
The time in prison rules out a fight in September. If he’s going to fight again this year, which Mayweather has said he wants to do, it would most likely be in December. And wouldn’t you know it, Manny Pacquiao should be looking for a fight around the same time, too.
Until the fight happens or both men are in retirement homes, it will always be a question before, during and especially after each man’s fights. When he was interviewed in the ring after the victory, Mayweather didn’t even need to hear the name Pacquaio; he brought it up himself.
“Let’s give the fans what they want to see. Let’s give them Mayweather-Pacquaio,” Mayweather said.
That sounds nice, but this is most likely a posturing move from the man who now owns belts in eight different classes.
Earlier this week, Mayweather did everything but say Pacquaio uses steroids, instead talking about the Filipino champion’s head size and notable moves through different weight classes. Mayweather cited those points as reasons he’d rather protect his health than risk it against someone he believes has cheated.
But in the ring Saturday night, Mayweather said his former promoter Bob Arum is the one holding all this up, not him. He took it a step further in the post-fight press conference.
“The truth is, Bob Arum is not going to let the fight happen,” Mayweather said.
Mayweather said he talked directly to Pacquaio and offered him $40 million. This is the same back-and-forth volley between the two camps, which each want to get the court of public opinion on their side. It will take only a manner of hours for Arum to counter with a question about the split for the fight, which their side demands be 50-50.
The talking points from the last two years, tweaked and repeated over and over.
While that’s still the same, Mayweather’s fight Saturday was different. He didn’t play much defense, instead trading blows with and trying to attack Cotto.
“It didn’t surprise me what Mayweather was trying to do in that ring,” said Oscar De La Hoya, who was promoting the fight. “… We’re going to see a Mayweather who wants to trade with fighters. He wants to be exciting.”
Said Mayweather: “It’s a recession. You guys paid your hard-earned dollars … so I said (expletive) it, I’m going to give you guys what you want to see.”
Cotto didn’t appear at the post-fight press conference because he was taken to a local hospital. Mayweather threw 687 punches, connecting on 26 percent overall, 17 percent of his jabs and 34 percent of his power punches. Cotto’s face looked swelled in the ring, but he did not appear to need immediate medical attention as he talked with Mayweather for awhile and then retreated with his family and trainers to his locker room.
In front of a crowd of 16,047 in person and millions more elsewhere, Cotto gave Mayweather as good a challenge as he’s seen in several years. Cotto put Mayweather in the corner and on the ropes often, hitting him then with a barrage of shots. It was Mayweather’s ability to finally avoid those boxed-in positions that allowed him to attack in the center of the ring and land the bulk of his punches.
“Cotto is a future Hall of Famer. He’s no pushover, and he came to fight,” Mayweather said. “He didn’t come just to survive. He came to fight. I dug down and fought him back.”
Mayweather has been adamant that he’s not worried about going to prison, even telling HBO Sports’ Larry Merchant in the ring that “it comes with the territory.”
If that idea offends you, you’re not alone. It certainly won’t be received well by those in the community who were already upset that Mayweather’s sentence was postponed for his fight. While the fight was a much-needed boost to the Las Vegas economy, many would say that shouldn’t factor into a judge’s decision.
That’s the past, though. The sentence is ahead of him, days that Mayweather views as an obstacle he must overcome. Will it change him in any significant way? And what will it mean for his future fights?
Mayweather said that without a Pacquaio fight, “there’s really not anybody out there for me to fight.” The possible challengers once he’s released will all be young, unproven contenders that aren’t on Mayweather’s level.
They won’t be able to make him earn his moment in the corner of the ring, arms raised high, a divisive champion once more.