Brilliant Mayweather beats Cotto, I face facts

May 7, 2012 in Boxing, Sport

I finally got a chance to watch the Mayweather-Cotto bout fought last night in Las Vegas.

Just the day before, when previewing the fight, despite admitting that Floyd Mayweather Jr had all the advantages, I decided to go out on a limb and pick Miguel Cotto to score a stunning upset. Part of it is because Mayweather is 35 and is going to prison in less than a month. But subconsciously, it may have simply been because I wanted Mayweather to lose his perfect now-43 and 0 record.

And now, after Mayweather defeated Cotto in a unanimous victory (117-111, 117-111, 118-110), I have to give the man props and eat crow. Quite simply, Mayweather was sensational, and together with the game but outclassed Cotto, put together the most exciting fight of his illustrious career — which hasn’t always had a lot of action.

Watching the fight after already having read the fight recaps was a strange experience because it turned out slightly different to what I had expected. I thought Cotto would come out strong and fade in the later rounds, but it was Mayweather who came out on the offensive, being, surprisingly, the more aggressive fighter in peppering Cotto with jabs and right hands. After the first three rounds I wondered how Cotto would be able to get back into it, given that Mayweather was clearly faster, sharper and more accurate with all his punches.

But to Cotto’s effort — the dude is a flat out warrior — he fought back like a champion, busting up Mayweather’s nose and making him bleed profusely from the nostrils and mouth for the majority of the second half of the fight. It was the first time I had seen so much blood on Mayweather’s face. I’m not sure if it was a strategic decision by Mayweather to make the fight more exciting by often exchanging with Cotto in the corners (and if so, good on him), but the fact is Mayweather took Cotto’s best shots and dished back his own, and then some.

The difference between the two fighters was clear. Cotto was more plodding, looking to trap Mayweather against the ropes and the corners where he could unleash furious body blows and powerful head shots. The problem was, even when he got Mayweather where he wanted he still couldn’t do significant damage — for the most part — due to the incredible defensive reflexes and that famous shoulder roll of his opponent.

On the other hand, Mayweather simply controlled distance and pace like a masterful technician. Hate the man as much as you want for being an arrogant show-off, a wife-beater or a racist, but watching him fight last night was an absolute pleasure. He was always moving to a distance that suited his offense, which allowed him to get off first with his lightning quick hands. When Cotto closed the gap, he either opened it up again or closed it up even more so that Cotto couldn’t get off his own shots. When Cotto appeared to be getting the other hand with his relentless pressure, Mayweather just used his arms to tie up Cotto’s gloves. And later on in the fight, Mayweather adjusted and found a new weapon — the left uppercut — that became his most effective weapon down the stretch. He was just flat out better.

Let’s not forget Cotto here because his effort ensured that we were able to see Mayweather at his best — Money himself admitted afterwards, with rare marks on his face, that Cotto was the toughest guy he had ever fought. I had the fight a little closer than the judges in the end with a 8-4 scorecard (116-112), but there was no doubt Mayweather had won it convincingly. There was no feeling that Mayweather would have faded had the fight continued either. In fact, round 12 was probably Mayweather’s best round, in which he rocked Cotto with several vicious left uppercuts and right hands.

Cotto left the ring before interviews, and Mayweather, as usual, was back to his irritating self, basically ignoring all of Larry Merchant’s questions to say only what he wanted to say. Needless to say, Manny Pacquiao’s name came up and it was the usual excuses, showing that there’s almost no point in expecting something to happen at this point.

But that’s still not going to stop people from fantasising about what might happen if they do eventually meet in the ring. And despite years of having believed that Pacquiao has the tools to beat Mayweather, after this fight and Pacquiao’s last fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, maybe I’m not so sure any more.

Supporters from either side are going to point to their common opponents as evidence that their guy will win. Pacquiao beat Oscar de lay Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley and now Miguel Cotto with more ease and in more dominating fashion (though it is impossible to overlook that they fought at different weights — especially Cotto, who weighed 154 for Mayweather and just 145 against Pacquiao; and the popular argument that Mayweather had softened them up first). Mayweather, on the other hand beat Marquez, a guy many believe bested Pacquiao one or two or maybe even three times, with utmost ease (though that was at a catch weight too ).

Previously, I believed that Pacquiao’s relentless activity, punching power and endless stamina would eventually wear down Mayweather en route to a points win. But I realised that was an oversimplification of the facts. It’s not that Mayweather doesn’t like to throw — he showed against Cotto that he can be a very active offensive fighter himself, landing 179 of 687 punches compared to 105 of 506 from Cotto — it’s just that he prefers to just do enough to win. That’s why Mayweather hasn’t been as impressive as Pacquiao in beating up some of their common opponents.

I was also wrong about Mayweather’s inability to throw combinations. Before this fight I thought he had become more of a pot shot puncher who threw only one or two punches at a time. But against Cotto, he was tearing it up with sick combinations from all angles. These combinations were different to Pacquiao’s, which tend to be quicker but wilder; Mayweather’s combinations were more methodical, not in rapid Pacquiao-like succession but each one was snappy and dead on the mark , and arguably, even more effective.

If the two were to match up now, you’d have to pick Mayweather, with his bigger size, longer reach and superior defense, as the favourite. As much as I like Pacquiao and want him to win, it’s time to face the reality of the situation.

But does that mean Pacquiao is sure to lose? I don’t think so either. After having watched Cotto land a few on Mayweather despite his orthodox style and plodding speed, I still believe Pacquiao has the best chance of beating Mayweather than anyone else on the planet. If Cotto could land some effective punches throughout the fight, then surely Pacquiao, with his blazing speed and footwork, could as well — and with greater snap and power. Pacquiao is also less likely to fade, as Cotto did a little when he put together a string of three solid rounds from around the mid-point of the fight. However, what I see as Pacquiao’s greatest advantages are his southpaw stance (kryptonite against the shoulder roll) and his bizarre punching angles and timing, which could catch Mayweather off guard. That said, Mayweather is better than adjusting mid-fight than anyone else in boxing, so perhaps that’s not saying much either.

What is maybe more worrying for Pacquiao now is Mayweather’s offense. We all know Pacquiao can get a little out of control at times, and against Mayweather, the ultimate counter puncher, he will surely pay for it. It might depend on how disciplined Pacquiao can be, because we know he’s going to be pissed off. I suppose what I am trying to say is that Mayweather might have become more of a favourite after the Cotto fight, but Pacquiao may also have a bigger chance of winning than he had before. Does that even make sense?

At the end of the day, there are going to be people from both camps who are going to defend their guy no matter what. Right now Mayweather seems to have the upper hand, but who knows if that will change if Pacquiao comes out and blasts Tim Bradley away on June 9.

So all of this back and forth banter between the two sides is rather pointless because no one will really know for sure until these two get it on. Unfortunately, right now it looks as unlikely as ever.

Fight Preview: Mayweather vs Cotto

May 5, 2012 in Boxing, Sport

Love him or loathe him, you have to respect Floyd Mayweather’s boxing skills and ability to make tens of millions of dollars every fight. Apparently for his upcoming fight (May 5 in Las Vegas) against Miguel Cotto at the junior middleweight/super welterweight limit 154 pounds, Mayweather is being guaranteed a record US$32 million, which will probably swell up to US$50 million or more because he gets a chunk of the PPV profits.

I have to say, the numbers have surprised me. I felt like Floyd’s star was fading a bit because he’s going to jail after this fight (for beating and threatening the mother of his children) and because the megafight with Manny Pacquiao fell through again for the gazillionth time. Miguel Cotto, while still a dangerous fighter, just didn’t seem like an opponent that would generate this kind of buzz. After all, few would argue that he isn’t quite the same fighter after having suffered brutal beatdowns at the hands of Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao.

However, Cotto avenged his questionable loss to Mr Plaster Hands and has allegedly put those confidence issues of the past behind him. Plus he is fighting at a comfortable 154 pounds, where he has fought his last three fights, whereas Mayweather is coming up to this weight for just the second time in his career (the other being a “split” win against Oscar de la Hoya that was really a unanimous victory). Does Cotto (37-2, 30KOs) have what it takes to hand Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs) his first loss?

Cotto’s advantages

Let’s be honest. On paper, at least, Cotto doesn’t look like he stands much of a chance against the defensive maestro Mayweather. But unlike Mayweather’s last fight against the untested Victor Ortiz, I think Cotto stands slightly more than a puncher’s chance.

First of all, as mentioned above, 154 is a better weight for Cotto than it is for Mayweather. This was proven when Cotto weighed in at the limit while Mayweather came in 3 pounds light at 151. Even though he won, the last time Mayweather fought at 154 he wasn’t as impressive as he had been at 147, which makes one wonder whether the added weight will make a difference.

Secondly, Cotto is four years younger than Mayweather at 31 years of age. Granted, Cotto has a lot more mileage on his boxing pedometer than the rarely marked Floyd, but as they say, age can catch ip to boxers in a hurry. I doubt it will happen to Mayweather in this fight, but if he loses, I’m sure it will be one of the first excuses brought up.

Thirdly, Cotto has the tools, as least theoretically, to bother Mayweather. No one has been able to execute the plan, by the way, but the supposed blueprint to beat Mayweather involves a nice, stiff jab and a lot of powerful body shots. Cotto has both of those things and the mental discipline to carry out the game plan. And he should be stronger than Mayweather at this weight. I wouldn’t say he is a devastating puncher but he definitely has the requisite power to hurt the Pretty Boy.

Fourthly, Mayweather could be distracted by his upcoming jail sentence. He hasn’t shown it so far, but it’s hard to believe that it isn’t lingering in the back of his mind. Interestingly, some commentators have pointed out that Mayweather relentlessly taunted the late Diego Corrales before their bout because Corrales was heading to prison for domestic violence against his pregnant girlfriend. Oops.

Lastly, Cotto said he has renewed his passion for boxing after his revenge victory against Margarito last year. I don’t know if he’s just saying this to mess with Mayweather (remember, Cotto was named as one of the guys that Floyd was “ducking” years ago), but if that’s true then we might see the Cotto of old that was considered one of the most dangerous fighters on the planet.

Mayweather’s advantages

Okay, Mayweather pretty much has an advantage in everything else. Mayweather is taller (5’8″ to 5’7″), has a significantly longer reach (72″ to 67″), has taken much less damage over the years, has better defense, is quicker, more durable and more skilled in just about every way. And to top things off, they are fighting in his hometown of Las Vegas. It’s hardly even fair.

Prediction

Common sense dictates that Mayweather should dominate. So many of his opponents have said the same thing: the dude is simply in a different class. You might not be able to see it on the screen but when you face him you find out the hard way.

But there’s something about this fight that just feels a little different to me. I’m no clairvoyant but when every expert predicts that a fight will turn out a certain way (in this case, Cotto being competitive early on but Mayweather turns it up and peppers him into a beehive for a late stoppage or unanimous decision) — the outcome usually ends up being entirely different.

You’d be crazy to pick against Mayweather here, and arguably, in any fight (I’ve never picked against him before), but you know what? I’m feeling kinda crazy. All the analysis in the world isn’t going to be able to foresee how the fight will pan out. My head says Mayweather with ease, but my heart says Cotto in a stunning upset (and putting an end to those Pacquiao-Mayweather dreams). And I have to go with my heart.

Tomorrow I’ll either be eating crow or saying I told you so.

 

Pacquiao to take on Antonio Margarito!

July 25, 2010 in Boxing

It’s official: Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather Jr is dead — at least for 2010.

After the negotiations for the biggest fight of the decade between the pound-for-pound champs fell through (again), it has now been decided that Pacquiao will now take on disgraced cheater Antonio Margarito, preferably in Las Vegas on 13 November 2010 (provided Margarito can get licensed, or else it may have to be in Mexico).  The fight will take place at 154 pounds, giving Pacquiao the opportunity to win a world title in an unprecedented 8th weight class.

Look, boxing fans around the world have every right to be furious with this outcome.  I don’t want to go over this again (read here) but the entire Pacquiao-Mayweather thing has become a total farce.  First it was the drug testing, then it was the gagged negotiations that appeared to be finalising, then it was the “deadline”, and then it was the denial that negotiations ever took place.  Whatever the reason for the fight between the two best boxers in the world not being made, it doesn’t matter anymore — they should all be ashamed of themselves.

But it’s not just the disappointing fact that Pacquiao-Mayweather isn’t happening that has me all riled up.  It’s the fact that Pacquiao will now be taking on Margarito instead.

Antonio Margarito?  Really?  The cheater?

It’s slightly more interesting than the alternative, which is a Pacquiao-Cotto rematch, simply because Pacquiao has already shredded Cotto, and Margarito (5’11” with 73″ reach) is so much bigger than Pacquiao (5’6.5″ with 67″ reach).  But Margarito doesn’t even deserve to be in the ring after being discovered carrying illegal hand wraps in his bout with Shane Mosley last year.  And do I even need to mention that Mosley knocked out Margarito in that fight and that since then the cheater has not looked anywhere close to the feared fighter he was back when he battered Cotto into submission (probably because he was also cheating back then)?  Oh, and Margarito can’t even get licensed to fight in the US after the hand wrap debacle?

I believe despite the size difference, the matchup will still heavily be in Pacquiao’s favour (provided he hasn’t lost a step or any focus since being elected to Congress) simply because of his overwhelming advantage in hand and foot speed.  Margarito is the plodding type, which plays right into the Filipino buzzsaw’s hands.  As long as Pacquiao can avoid being tagged by a big shot (he proved against Cotto he could take a few hits), he’ll be able to slide in and out of range and blast Margacheato into a beehive.  If he couldn’t take Shane Mosley’s speed (and telegraphed overhand right), there’s no reason to think he could manage Pacquiao’s.

Nevertheless, let’s face it — the only reason these two are facing each other is because of the cowardice of Floyd Mayweather Jr and the greed of the repulsive Bob Arum of Top Rank.

Mayweather was in the perfect position to take on Pacquiao (who had apparently agreed to blood testing procedures that were “acceptable” to the Mayweather camp, assuming those negotiations took place at all) but wimped out without offering any logical reason or explanation.

Okay, so Mayweather is out of the picture (at least for now) — but that doesn’t mean there’s no worthy opponent out there for Pacquiao.  Arum only offered two alternatives — Cotto and Margarito — just because they are also promoted by Top Rank, which means greedy Arum gets to keep all the money in house.

Arum offered a bunch of totally lame and transparent excuses for Pacquiao not even considering taking on another fighter (which really includes any top boxer between 140 and 154 pounds — Timothy Bradley, Andre Berto, Paul Williams and heck, even Shane Mosley), but we all know the true reason Pacquiao is not taking on someone more worthy.  If Pacquiao can fight the virtually unknown Joshua Clottey, then he can take on any of those guys mentioned above and make it a bigger fight than against Margarito or Cotto.

That said, I’m still going to be watching on November 13.  Darn it.

Looks like Pacquiao-Mayweather may never happen

July 19, 2010 in Boxing

Here’s a quick update on those still wondering whether the megabout between pound-for-pound number 1 and 2 Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr will ever happen.

The answer: probably no.

The second round of negotiations has broken down, and with Mayweather being non-commital about fighting Pacquiao and Pacquiao being tied down by his commitments as a Filipino congressman, it appears unlikely that the two men will ever step into the same ring.

(click on ‘more…’ to read this post)

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Pacquiao-Clottey: Easy Win or Upset?

March 11, 2010 in Boxing

[For the results of the fight and analysis, click here]

I know a lot of people are still up in arms over the failed Mayweather-Pacquiao fight which would have taken place on Saturday, 13 March 2010, had the two sides not lost the plot over drug testing procedures.

Instead, we now have pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao taking on Joshua Clottey at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas (capacity 45,000) on the same day, and undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr taking on Shane Mosley on 1 May 2010.

To be honest, the hype for the Pacquiao-Clottey fight has been relatively low.  And it’s perfectly understandable.

Fist of all, there is the disappointment over the Mayweather fallout.  Secondly, there is the related fury over Pacquiao’s refusal to accept blood testing.  Thirdly, many simply think Clottey is not a worthy opponent.  Clottey’s most recent bout (13 June 2009) was a split decision loss to Miguel Cotto, the man Pacquiao destroyed over 12 rounds on 14 November 2009.

However, there are plenty of factors at play in this bout, most of which have been ignored or downplayed.  Clottey is a much more dangerous opponent than most people give him credit for.

So is this going to be just another easy win for Pacquiao?  Or will Clottey pull off the stunning upset?

(Click on ‘more…’ for the analysis)

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