FLOYD MAYWEATHER notched up his 43rd career victory and maintained his undefeated record with a unanimous points victory over MIGUEL COTTO to become the new WBA super welterweight champion at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas last night.
Mayweather proved himself yet again as the pound-for-pound boxing king but Cotto made sure that it wasn’t going to be an easy night for the outspoken 34-year-old.
Cotto stretched Mayweather to his limits, fighting like a true warrior with excellent combinations and body shots that made Mayweather uncomfortable throughout. However, Mayweather found a way to win, not out of desperation as many fighters have tried but using his frighteningly accurate punch precision and excellent boxing skills to out point the Puerto Rican.
The judges scorecards reflected somewhat unfairly on Cotto, with the fight being scored 117-111, 117-111, 118-110 all in Mayweather’s favour despite the fight being tight, with at least three rounds being open to serious debate.
Mayweather started the fight looking to punish Cotto immediately with his punch precision, dipping low and springing forward, stinging Cotto with a couple of head and body shots, using his time well to win the first round comfortably.
It appeared that Cotto was going to have to work harder for the points, as despite being younger, he was clearly slower than the lightning-fast “Pretty Boy”. The 31-year-old champion caused an almighty roar from the 20,000 fans in attendance when he knocked Mayweather’s head over the ropes and continued his assault to win the second round.
The light middleweight division is Cotto’s natural weight, Mayweather has only fought at this weight once before and that was against Oscar De La Hoya seven years ago. Mayweather was beginning to feel strength that Cotto possesses with Mayweather’s corner looking slightly anxious at the fact that the challenger was giving away rounds, something he is certainly not used to.
Cotto started to unload on Mayweather but ended up on the receiving end of some blistering combinations and a serious of uppercuts and rights that swung the round Mayweather’s way.
At the halfway mark, Cotto was searching for a single power shot that could change the momentum of the fight and almost got it when he stiffened Mayweather with a left jab that resulted in blood oozing from Mayweather’s nose. The last time Mayweather was rocked was against the wiley welterweight legend Shane Mosley two years ago and left the fight looking more scarred than he has done for years.
Cotto was still trying to slow down Mayweather with hefty combinations but to no avail, as Mayweather drew on his vast reserve of fitness to pepper Cotto from range.
However, Cotto then stormed back in the eighth round as he worked well to deter Mayweather, wobbing and weaving to pounce on his head and body, leaving the world number one shaking his head as he returned to his stool.
Mayweather, however kept his cool but had reverted to a toe-to-toe exchange that Cotto was delighted to be drawn into, belief was beginning to build that Cotto could well pull off one of the greatest boxing upsets.
With only two rounds remaining in the fight, Cotto still could not find the perfect shot to defeat Mayweather, as the challenger countered on the inside with piercing uppercuts and short rights.
Cotto knew he needed a stoppage to win but Mayweather fought tremendously to deny the WBA champion any glory. Mayweather sliced and diced the Puerto Rican in the twelfth and final round, pummeling him with combinations and shaking him to his boots with an uppercut in the centre of the ring.
They were trading blows until the final second, after which the two men embraced knowing they had brought a classic fight back to the spiritual home of boxing.
Mayweather was cut and bruised, his stamina had rarely been tested like this before but he won the fight like a true champion, no controversy like his previous outing against Victor Ortiz.
Speaking to the media after the fight, Mayweather said to Cotto: “You’re a hell of a champion.
“I had to fight hard against a future Hall-of-Famer, no push over. He came to fight, not just to survive. As for the cuts, they all come with the territory. I wanted to fight Pacquiao this fight but couldn’t make it happen. I still want that fight, when he takes the test.”
Miguel Cotto said afterwards: “The judges said I lost the fight.
“I can’t do anything else. I have to take my defeat. I brought my best and I did my best every day in training and I did my best tonight. I’m happy with my performance. So are my family. I can’t ask for anything else.”
Now that the dust has settled with this fight, Mayweather must now pay the price for his actions outside of the ring. Mayweather will start a 90-day prison sentence at Clark County Detention Center on June 1st on accounts of domestic violence against his former partner.
However, Mayweather has been awarded a rather generous parting gift; a cheque for $32 million dollars for his purse and yet-to-be calculated pay-per-view revenue which could take his earnings to just over $50 million.
The will they-wont they argument with Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao is sure to rumble on but it should be pushed aside for now. Mayweather put in a fine performance to stake his claim as the pound-for-pound king. Pacquiao will need to put on a much improved performance against Timothy Bradley on June 9th if he is to regain that accolade, after a highly contentious decision against his old foe Juan Manuel Marquez.
This fight was supposed to be a consolation fight for Mayweather-Pacquiao, instead we got a classic, no politics, no controversy, just a thrilling night of world-class action.