Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Credit Where Credit is Due

Mayweather and Cotto received the royal treatment at yesterday's press conference in New York City.

You can say negative things about Floyd Mayweather, Jr. all you want (and I have over the years) but the one thing you can’t say about his next opponent, the Puerto Rican destroyer otherwise known as Miguel Cotto, is that he will be an easy day at the office.

Mayweather has often been criticized by the boxing intelligentsia for hand-picking his opposition and catching guys when they have been much closer to the way down the slide rather than the way up the ladder. In fact, many feel that Cotto, whom he will meet at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas on May 5, is the most dangerous foe the undefeated Mayweather will have faced since he squared off in successive matches against lightweight Jose Luis Castillo nearly a decade ago.

"Cotto is big and he’s strong," said Mayweather during a press conference as he and Cotto make stops in Puerto Rico, New York and Los Angeles as part of the nation-wide press tour to hype their upcoming bout. "I think he’s one of the best guys out there right now in the sport. He’s the best guy that I could get who wanted to fight me."

In facing Cotto at 154-pounds, Mayweather is also venturing into the lion’s den. Cotto is bulkier and thicker whereas the most Mayweather has ever weighed for a bout was the 150 pounds he scaled in 2007 versus Oscar De La Hoya. Cotto, 31 is also four years younger than Mayweather who turned 35 just last week.

With a head-to-head match-up a little more than two months away, Mayweather (left) and Cotto got a good look at one another.

With Cotto, Mayweather is facing a proven entity and what most observers characterize as a "real" fighter. Cotto knows his way around a boxing ring, has only lost twice in 39 career bouts and he has won four world titles in three weight divisions. His eleven-year fistic resume is littered with the carnage of his grinding, come ahead style. Along the way, he has thrilled audiences from Puerto Rico to New York to Las Vegas and become one of the marquee attractions in the game.

The two men are polar opposites in every imaginable way. Mayweather is flamboyant, outspoken and controversial while Cotto is stoic, monotone and introspective. Mayweather’s fighting style is defensive and cautious, while Cotto is best characterized as aggressive and crowd pleasing. Mayweather has barely shed a drop of blood in a career that began 16 years ago, whereas Cotto seems to bleed as a normal course of business.

And Miguel Cotto, he of the quiet confidence and blank expression, figures he can take care of business on May 5th.

Cotto is not afraid of the sight of blood - his own or anyone else's for that matter.

"I’m pretty sure of it", says Cotto when asked if he thinks he can beat Mayweather. "He’s quick...he’s fast....but when you put pressure on him, he closes his mind, you know?"

Cotto doesn't seem as though he's losing any sleep over Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and you get the sense that if nobody ever asked him about Floyd that he'd never bring up the name. Cotto is unimpressed with Mayweather’s undefeated credentials and believes it is as sturdy as a house of cards.

"That’s the thing he has done his whole career, you know? He runs from the really good boxers," says the Puerto Rican. "All along he chose others and I don't know how the people that know boxing can put him in first place, pound-for-pound. If you want to be the best, you have to fight the best."

And that’s why you have to give credit where credit is due, because Mayweather is now doing just that.

February 2012

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