Floyd Mayweather might have scored the biggest payday in boxing history Saturday night, but Miguel Cotto made him earn every penny of it.
The Puerto Rican champ bloodied and battered Mayweather during the middle rounds of their junior middleweight title bout. But in the end, the super slick skills and speed that helped the Las Vegas-based boxer build his undefeated record, helped keep it a perfect 43-0 as Mayweather recorded a unanimous decision victory inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“You’re a hell of a champion,” Mayweather told Cotto immediately after the bell sounded in the 12th. “You’re the toughest guy I ever fought.”
Indeed Mayweather—who with the addition of Cotto’s 154-pound WBA belt became an eight-time champion in six different weight classes—had to earn the victory in the final rounds in his toughest test since holding off Jose Luis Castillo as a junior lightweight a decade earlier.
Two judges scored the fight 117-111 and a third tallied the contest 118-110, which was greeted with a hearty round of boos from the pro-Latin crowd of 16,047, which cheered wildly with every punch Cotto threw.
But Mayweather turned up his intensity in the final four rounds, winning all on each judge’s scorecard and ending the fight with fireworks in the 12th—unloading a left uppercut that wobbled Cotto and following that up with a flurry of blows that ensured he would get the judges’ decision.
“He’s a tough competitor. I knew I was going to have to come in the ring to fight hard and execute the game plan,” Mayweather said. “Cotto is a future Hall of Famer and he is no pushover. He came to fight. He didn’t come to survive, he came to fight. So I dug down and fought him back.”
Mayweather—nicknamed “Money” for his unprecedented pay-per-view paydays and shrewd self-promotion—set the largest guaranteed bout agreement at $32 million, breaking Mike Tyson’s $30 million mark in the infamous ear-bite championship rematch with Evander Holyfield in 1997.
He said his new engaging style was to please fans who dished out $69.95 for the pay-per-view.
“The main thing is we gave the fans what they wanted to see I’m now older, they paid the money so I gave them a show,” Mayweather said. “When it’s pay-per-view and the fans are paying and coming out to see you, you want to give the fans excitement.”
Cotto obliged as well, blooding Mayweather’s nose in the sixth, which drew a roar from the crowd and a respectful nod from Mayweather.
Behind some big body blows along the ropes, Cotto won the sixth through eight rounds on HBO analyst Harold Lederman’s card.
But Mayweather’s punch rate—he landed 179 of his 687 punches compared to Cotto, who connected on 105 of his 506—and elusive maneuvering helped Mayweather escape for the victory.
“The judges said I lost the fight. I can’t do anything else. I have to take my defeat,” Cotto said. “I’m happy with my fight and with my performance. So is my family. I can’t ask for anything else.”
After the fight, as seems to be the case in any Mayweather conversation in the past three years, the question of a superfight against Manny Pacquaio was brought up.
“Bob Arum is in the way,” Mayweather said of the Top Rank promoter who represents Pacquiao and once promoted him. “He’s stopping the fans from getting what they want. Let’s give the fans what they want.”
Alvarez defeats Mosley
Rising Mexican star Canelo Alvarez kept his record perfect (40-0-1) and might have sent former champ Shane Mosley (46-8-1) into retirement with a lopsided decision victory.
“He is really fast and really good. He can go a long ways,” said the 40-year-old Mosley, of the 21-year-old 154-pound champ Alvarez. “When the young kids start beating you up, it might be time to start promoting.
“I didn’t expect him to be that fast or that good. He is up there with the top. He’s a young tiger. I gave it all I got. I made sure he was worthy. I got beat by a better man tonight.”
While Mosley won the first round on two judges scorecards, he won only two rounds on the other judge’s card the rest of the fight.
Alvarez—who suffered his first-ever cut, when an accidental head butt in the third round splattered blood down his chest—said he’s ready to take on upper echelon fighters.
“This is the beginning of my career. Mayweather, Cotto, Pacquiao … I am ready,” Alvarez said.