Mayweather vs. Cotto: Counter-Punching Will Decide Fight Early

Jacob BetznerCorrespondent IIMay 5, 2012

Cotto and Mayweather at the fight's announcement.
Cotto and Mayweather at the fight's announcement.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Tonight, boxing legend and undefeated Floyd "Money" Mayweather squares off against Puerto Rican pugilist Miguel Cotto.

Mayweather's flawless 42-0 record is on the line, and the WBA (super) light middleweight title is at stake.

Cotto, the heavy-hitting WBA (super) light middleweight title holder, has lost only twice in his career.  Once to Anotnio Margarito, though it is believed Margarito cheated by using plaster inserts in his gloves, and bowing out to Manny Pacquiao, lasting almost the entire twelve rounds before the referee declared a technical knockout.

Mayweather's undefeated record is no mistake.  After winning three National Golden Gloves at three different weight levels at Michigan State University, the Grand Rapids, Michigan native won a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta.

After representing the red, white and blue, Mayweather turned professional and hasn't lost a fight in 42 tries.

Known for his nearly impenetrable defense and quick counter strikes, Mayweather is known for his ability to wear down and outlast his opponents.  The 35-year-old  still packs quite a punch as exemplified in his controversial fourth round knockout against Victor Ortiz last September.

Cotto, known for his hard, accurate punches grew up south of San Juan, Puerto Rico, often sparring against his older brother, professional boxer José Cotto.

Miguel Cotto beat the first 32 opponents he faced in his professional career before losing to Mexican brawler Antonio Margarito.  The loss was questioned after officials found plaster inserts in Margarito's gloves before his next fight, and Cotto avenged the loss last September.

His only other professional loss was dealt by the lightning-fast hands of Manny Pacquiao in 2009.

Cotto's last five fights have all gone at least nine rounds.  He has fought five times in the last three years, and tonight's fight marks his third in only 14 months.  Conversely, last fought eight months ago, taking only four rounds to finish off Victor Ortiz.  Tonight's fight marks Mayweather's third in two years.

Mayweather may be able to exploit Cotto early by wearing him down and effectively placing his counter punches.  Analysts pointed out stamina issues for Cotto, an 8-to-1 underdog in tonight's fight, in his losses against Margarito and Pacquiao, playing right into Mayweather's ability to wear down opponents by outlasting the constant abuse and counter striking effectively.

However, with an impending jail sentence on the mind of Mayweather as reported by the New York Times, Cotto may be able to exploit and unfocused Mayweather who may not be completely focused at times.  Catching Mayweather off guard early and not wasting punches will be advantageous for Cotto.

A big-time counter punch by either fighter could end the fight in an early round, whether Mayweather connects with a winded Cotto, or Cotto catches Mayweather unprepared.  Cotto seems determined to tarnish Mayweather's flawless record as reported by the Boston Herald, but he's not the first to try.  Meanwhile, a strong victory against Cotto could be used as leverage to secure a fight against Manny Pacquiao in which "Money" could effectively eliminate any and all doubt of who truly is the world's best boxer.