The festivities began as you would expect them to – with Justin Bieber accompanying Floyd Mayweather Jr. to the ring.
Things could only get better from there.
Even though Miguel Cotto’s face was emotionless in the lead-up to the fight, you could almost feel the uncertainty radiating off him. Mayweather, conversely, was all smiles and oozing confidence from the getgo. Every boxer goes into every bout giving themselves a fair shot at a win – but Cotto isn't stupid. He knew the odds were stacked against him. (And not just because Vegas made that abundantly clear.)
Right out of the gate, we saw two particular sequences that epitomized what this fight was all about. First, Mayweather threw a lazy hook that Cotto easily blocked. This is important to note because Cotto isn’t a scrub. He may not be on Mayweather’s level, but the undefeated champion certainly wasn’t going to roll over him doing nothing. After that, though, Mayweather showed all why he was who he was when he started attacking Cotto’s stomach – with a decent amount of success. Ultimately he won the first round, but not by a lot.
The second round was interesting. Almost immediately, Mayweather came out swinging – landing several quick jabs and a couple of combos. His countering was also really on point in the second. Aside from Cotto randomly trying to pick Mayweather up, he didn’t really show much life early in the first part of this round. Totally lifeless, actually. But then, for whatever reason, he realized that he could have a lot more success if he trapped Mayweather between the ropes. Once he did that, he was in prime position to attack the undefeated champ’s body – which he did quite effectively. Round 2 went to Cotto, without a doubt.
It was more of the same in the third round. Cotto had seemingly found his winning formula. Plenty of body shots, all finding their mark. It looked as though Mayweather was trying to fight back with a few poorly-thrown combos, but the counters just weren’t finding their marks. Cotto took the third round as well.
In the fourth round, Mayweather came out looking to prove why he was the favorite coming in. Clearly having adjusted from the earlier three rounds, the undefeated champ came out with a series of jabs that threw Cotto off his game. A well-timed couple of rights seemed to stun Cotto for a bit. He ultimately recovered enough to trap Mayweather in the corner again, but to little avail. Mayweather was able to counter just about everything thrown at him. In the end, Mayweather took this round.
Cotto realized that he had lost the prior round, and he came out in the fifth looking to make up some ground. Once again, he was able to trap Mayweather in the corner early and deliver some very impactful blows. Unfortunately Mayweather wised up to the fact that Cotto was leaving his head open while he was going for the body shots, so Mayweather wound up getting a number of clean lefts in to close out the round. This one was close – but ultimately the undefeated champ took it. (Which is the general rule of thumb, by the way. When in doubt, give the round to the more famous guy.)
The sixth featured a lot of back-and-forth, but the highlight was undoubtedly a left hook to Mayweather’s dome that looked like it had some legit force behind it. Between that and the on-the-mark jabs that Cotto was landing, it really felt like he was beginning to believe he had a real shot at winning this one. Mayweather kept smiling throughout trying to cover up for the fact that he was getting more of a fight than he expected, but he also wasn’t seriously hurt at any point. He was bleeding a bit from the nose and Cotto had some redness on his face, but neither guy was seriously shaken. Round six went to Cotto.
With a bit extra urgency, Mayweather came out swinging in the seventh. Jab. Jab. Jab. Once Cotto started trying to defend against the jab – boom, combos. Mayweather was looking to be methodical in this one, not hasty. He was picking his moments, but when he spotted an opening, he connected seemingly every time. He won the seventh round, obviously, but more importantly this was the point where Mayweather seemed to finally get his mojo back.
The eighth opened up largely in the same fashion as most of the other rounds. Mayweather landed his jabs, Cotto targeted the body. Nothing really stood out about this round other than the fact that Cotto was still moving surprisingly well. Some folks figured Mayweather’s superior conditioning would overwhelm Cotto by this point in the fight – but that didn't happen. Cotto landed more impactful blows, so this round went to him as well. Again, Mayweather was bleeding from the nose and mouth here, but it really didn’t seem to be effecting him at all. For a guy who doesn’t get bloodied up often, he handled it extremely well.
In the ninth, perhaps feeling the momentum swinging, Cotto came out throwing serious punches to Mayweather’s body. Mayweather wasn’t shook, though. He responded with some nice counters, ultimately balancing out anything Cotto did in the early going and then doing some additional damage after that. Round nine went to Mayweather, but again it was close.
The tenth is where what we expected to see happen actually started to happen. Cotto was still swinging with enthusiasm, but the blows weren’t connecting like they had earlier. Mayweather, meanwhile, looked like he wasn’t missing anything. Jabs, counters – nearly everything he was throwing wound up landing. This round went to Mayweather, and it wasn’t anywhere nearly as murky as the prior Mayweather rounds were. He won this one – clearly.
Mayweather came out swinging in the 11th, but his punches didn’t seem to be landing with much behind them. The lack of force actually seemed to surprise Cotto a bit, because he immediately went in for the body attacks with a bit of extra enthusiasm after he felt the love taps. Unfortunately that enthusiasm didn’t translate into effectiveness, as Mayweather was able to counter the body blows and ultimately land two hard hits – one right, one left. He took the 11th.
Building off the momentum from the prior two rounds, Mayweather came out aggressively in the 12th. He could feel himself regaining control of this fight. At one point, the undefeated champ landed a deadly left that looked like it had enough force behind it to take Cotto to the ground – but he stayed up…barely. From there, Mayweather just did his usual elusiveness bit around the ring, landing punches when he saw a window – but knowing that he had won the fight.
Cotto put up a very impressive effort. Far better than anything anyone had expected. But in the end, Mayweather was just too good.
Judges: 117-111 117-111 and 118-110, all for Mayweather
This bout was eerily reminiscent of what we saw last November from Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. Tough, tough battle, with the better fighter emerging victorious.
We have to get Mayweather vs. Pacquiao after this, right?
So what happens next?