This is a fight that five years ago would have been one of the biggest matchups of the modern era. Both fighters were unbeaten, both fighting at welterweight - one an artist, one a wrecking ball. As it stands it's still a pretty big one. Resurgent Puerto Rican hero Miguel Cotto faces pound for pound king, the reclusive self-effacing Floyd Mayweather for the WBA light middleweight championship at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas Saturday night.
A favourite bet of mine over the years has been Mayweather to win on points as the market consistently overrates his interest in stopping his opponents and this looks like a good choice to me here. While Floyd has perfectly respectable power he's not a noted knockout artist. He's had two knockouts in the past five years and the first of those against Ricky Hatton was one that came his way rather than through Mayweather seeking it out - the overmatched Brit charging forward time and time again into sickening right leads before the famous check left hook sent him into the ring post.
But what about the KO in his last fight against "Vicious" Victor Ortiz – was that evidence of a new bloodthirsty Mayweather? Hardly. Floyd took two cheap shots as the idiotic Ortiz looked for a make-out session after the reckless challenger aimed a potentially fight ending head-butt at the champ. What a dummy.
A look at Mayweather's two fights before Ortiz gives a more representative sample. Against Juan Manuel Marquez in September 2009 he had the Mexican on the canvas in the second round and in one of his most virtuoso performances it seemed like he could end it at any moment. He chose not to.
For Floyd, it's the journey not the destination. He loves winning rounds of boxing, demonstrating his mastery. While the young Floyd was much more likely to get into a rumble the more mature version doesn't see the point. In his 2010 bout with Sugar Shane Mosley it was obvious in the later rounds that the 38-year-old Mosley was running on fumes and that any sustained attack would likely end the fight. It never came. Floyd saw the fight out, winning a lopsided decision. Finishing inside the distance is just not a big issue for him, particularly as he's moved up in weight and particularly against elite opposition like Cotto. He's a safety-first fighter who treasures his unbeaten record above all else.
Miguel Cotto for his part is a very fine technical boxer with an underrated jab, heavy hands, great determination and masses of experience at championship level. At 31, he’s still young enough to be a threat and his revenge victory over Antonio Margarito was great catharsis for him. The problem for him is that he brings nothing to the table stylistically that can trouble Floyd. Although he hits harder and is likely the better body puncher he's significantly slower and fights with a predictability that Mayweather just loves in his opponents. Once Floyd's familiar feeling-out rounds are out of the way (typically rounds 1-3) I see him winning every round.
Although I give him very little chance of winning the fight I like Cotto's chances of going the distance. He has shown his resilience in his two losses to Margarito and Pacquiao, taking pretty savage beatings before succumbing in the 11th and 12th rounds respectively. Although these were knockouts they came very late and against two fighters who have no reverse gear, who press forward remorselessly. Mayweather is not one of those guys. Remember also that in both fights Cotto went into survival mode late on, backpedalling, clinching and evading. I don't think we'll see him do a Ricky Hatton and get knocked out while searching for the knockout. He instinctively looks to survive, not to win at all costs.
He didn't go 42 and 0 by taking silly risks. Back Money to make money. Take Floyd by decision at 1.90.