While some observers feel that Floyd Mayweather has been ducking Miguel Cotto or waiting for his decline before eventually throwing leather with him, the WBC welterweight titlist has always known it was his destiny to go head-to-head with the native Puerto Rican.
“I always thought it was a fight that was going to happen,” Mayweather said. “He was with Top Rank, I was with Top Rank. I dominated at 130, moved to 140, fought at 147, I thought, eventually, the fight was going to happen. It didn't happen. I didn't pain none about it. But it's a great thing that he's got his promotional company up and going, I've got my promotional company up and going, and now that we can make the fight happen. I think it's a great thing for the sport of boxing.”
Apparently, the fight with Cotto that never was began in 2005 when “Money” scored a TKO win over Henry Bruseles to take his record to 33-0.
The aforementioned fight was meant to give Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, his promoter at the time, an inkling as to how far Mayweather had progressed in his boxing career, as well as insight as to whether Cotto would have a chance of prevailing against Mayweather.
According to Mayweather, the reason behind this plan was because he had intentions of parting company with Top Rank, however, the one-sided victory against Bruseles put paid to any hope of a Cotto showdwon.
Mayweather and Top Rank went their separate ways while Cotto remained with the company.
“I think that was the tester,” Mayweather said. “Puerto Rican, identical style—if you go back and look at Henry Bruseles, identical style—comes from the Cotto camp, same trainer at that particular time, which was his uncle. And Bruseles, he tried. I gave him the opportunity. He tried, but I was the better man.”
“This fight could've happened a long time ago, when both fighters were with Top Rank at that particular time,” Mayweather said. “But I think Bob Arum saw that I wasn't any ordinary fighter. He saw that I was a sharp individual, had a sharp mind, and that eventually I was going to break off and become my own boss.”
It’s been almost seven years since that fight, and while Mayweather has gone on to register a further nine victories to prop his record to 42-0 and garner the accolade as one of the two pound-for-pound pugilists in the world, Cotto has encountered mixed fortunes.
In July of 2008, Cotto lost his pristine 32-0 record to Antonio Margarito, who was thought to have employed illegal hand wraps to secure the 11th-round TKO—an infraction he was later suspended for following his 2009 bout with Shane Mosley.
Cotto followed that defeat with two wins before eventually falling to current WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao.
However, three victories later—Yuri Foreman, Ricardo Mayorga and a redeeming rematch with Margarito (winning via 10th-round stoppage), “Junito” will finally lock horns with his erstwhile stable mate on Cinco de Mayo for the WBA super welterweight title which is currently in his possession.
Even though Money believes Cotto and Bruseles have similar fighting styles, he’s also of the mindset that the outcome of their contest can’t be based on the Bruseles victory until they actually commence action come fight night.
“We really can't say until he's tested,” Mayweather said. “You've got some fighters that you can knock out in two rounds, or one round. And that's not saying that just because (Victor) Ortiz got knocked out in four rounds (by Mayweather, last September), and Bruseles got knocked out in eight rounds—it all depends on how you make adjustments in the ring, as to how hard your night is going, basically. Because every night is not the same. In the Bruseles fight, I was doing a lot of counter-punching, a lot of sharp boxing. With Ortiz, I was pressing the attack.”
Furthermore, the five-division world titlist sees Cotto as both an undefeated fighter as well as a top-level pugilist, but he’s quick to point out the experience differential.
I think I've got a lot more experience, but he has a lot of experience in the sport now,” Mayweather said of Cotto's professional evolution. “He's solid. And I look at him as an undefeated fighter, because one guy he faced, he fought at a catch-weight, and another guy he faced, of course, got caught cheating. So I don't go into this fight looking at him as a guy with two losses.
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