Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs) and "Sugar" Shane Mosley (46-8-1, 39 KOs) set the stage for the main event Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with a much more interesting fight than boxing experts could have predicted.
Cotto and Mayweather didn't really provide much entertainment until the middle rounds when Cotto was at his best. Mayweather frustrated Cotto early with his unique defensive style. Blocking his body with the same defensive posture perfected by "The Mongoose" Archie Moore, Mayweather leaned back with his shoulder up and twisted out of the way of the worst shots from Cotto.
Cotto landed a few great shots to the body, but Mayweather kept a sharp jab in his face and found the right hook-left uppercut combo frequently. Cotto went back to his corner in the first with a welt already visibly forming near his left temple.
Cotto began finding more holes in the second round, but Mayweather thwarted his advances by ducking down to Cotto's waist and clinching to a break. Cotto caught Mayweather against the rope at one point and picked him right up off his feet at another. Still, nothing seemed to really hurt Mayweather. Rounds 3 and 4 went to Floyd due to his ability to land more accurate shots and stay out of Cotto's effective range.
Cotto unleashed his best on Mayweather in the fifth round to no avail. Mayweather won most of the exchanges working behind a nice mix of quick jabs and power jabs. Cotto did manage to bloody Floyd's nose, though. His aggression might have been enough for at least one judge to give Cotto the round.
Mayweather posted himself in the center of the ring in the sixth. Cotto began to show some bounce in his step and toes, landing stinging body shots and jabbing well to the head and body. He used the same type of tactics to win the seventh round. Mayweather could only land jabs at will, as Cotto began to frustrate him. He baited Cotto in and teed off on him inside the last minute, but his last combo in the round cost him another shot to the head, worsening his bloody nose.
For the first time in a long time, Mayweather looked human and vulnerable. Cotto amped up the pace in Round 8, keeping Floyd cornered with hooks to the body and head. His head-down stance took away some of his accuracy, however.
Though Mayweather began to find the right hook-left uppercut combo that would take him to certain victory, he went back to his corner with a look of frustration on his face at the end of the eighth. He shook his head at Cotto, trying to tell the Puerto Rican he wasn't doing any real damage. The round would be Cotto's last hurrah.
The 35-year-old Mayweather jumped back in the fight in the ninth as Cotto started slapping his punches. He had a nice power jab break through Floyd's defense, but his theatrics seemed to be over. Cotto went into pure slugger mode, plodding and head hunting through most of the remainder of the fight. Mayweather outboxed and outmaneuvered Cotto by keeping his distance and fighting a smarter fight through the 12th and final round.
Two of the fight's judges scored it 117-111, while the other had it 118-110 in a unanimous-decision victory for Money May. Despite successfully adding the WBA super welterweight title to his collection, Mayweather didn't look better than ever, but he handled Cotto's best moments with a toughness that hasn't been seen in any of his recent fights.
Cotto did expose the fact that Mayweather can be tested and pushed against the ropes with the right offensive attack. Unfortunately for all the Floyd haters out there, Cotto couldn't sustain that kind of attack throughout the fight.
As far as a Pacquiao fight, it's not likely to happen next coming off such a performance. Mayweather will no doubt want to be coming off a more impressive and dominant night at the office to be able to better hype a Pacquiao megafight. He knows the longer he waits, the more money will be thrown at both fighters in the long run to actually sign on the dotted line.
In Saturday's other major bout, Shane Mosley began his fight with Saul Alvarez as the aggressor, jabbing steadily as he circled the ring in pursuit of the Mexican champion. Alvarez took on a defensive shell as he waited patiently for an opening. His first three jabs landed, and another nice right hook landed in the round, but Mosley did enough to take the opening frame. It seemed early on that Alvarez would be content to wait for his knockout punches rather than try to box with Mosley.
Alvarez continued to stay in a tight, solid stance through the first few rounds, exploding on occasion with some vicious combos. Mosley let his elbows poke out as he advanced, throwing pot shots with not much power behind them. Mosley managed a short left hook that crashed home and a few other well-targeted punches in the third round, but he took some hard hits every time he scored points on his jabs and flurries.
Mosley kept his hands a little higher on defense, but Alvarez still split the uprights with a reaching jab and a hard straight right hand. Alvarez showed a perfect balance of accuracy and power with his lower punch output. A clash of heads in the round gave Mosley an opening to get back into the fight. Instead of capitalizing on the resulting cut immediately, Mosley took time to rest after action resumed.
Mosley had a better fourth round but he still had to take some tough punches in order to land his own. A brilliant jab landed almost at will for Mosley, but, surprisingly, it was all speed and no power from the 40-year-old Mosley. Canelo dug in with uppercuts and hooks to the body and head, landing huge right and left hook bombs to Mosley's head toward the end of the round. Shane stepped up the pace in the fifth, working harder and landing more shots. Alvarez continued to fight in spurts, and the cut that opened up in the third didn't pose a problem at all.
Round 6 featured both men touching gloves near the end of the frame to signify mutual respect. It was also the round Mosley's comeback hopes began to fade. He worked behind an almost perpetual jab as he chased Alvarez around the ring. The Mexican did not look very confident having to fight backing up, but by round's end he looked much better. A right hook to the head landed near the middle of the round, and Alvarez followed up with a few amazing combinations as the round came to a close.
Mosley should have been turning it on in the seventh round if he really wanted to win the fight. He fought admirably and kept moving forward, but Alvarez was the one who put himself way ahead on the scorecards in the later rounds. He started by unleashing some wild hooks and clean uppercuts in the seventh. Throughout the back and forth slugging in the round, Canelo looked to be picking the best moments to land some amazing combos. Mosley began clinching, leaning in close, and slowing down. He showed brief flashes of power here and there, but it was easy to see Alvarez was getting to him.
Mosley had one of his best rounds in the eighth, even taking time to give Alvarez a shoe-shine combo to the head. Alvarez had a particularly nice uppercut land in the round, and a few other well-placed bombs, but Mosley wasn't hurt in the frame and totally outworked the 21-year-old Alvarez.
The fighters exchanged some even slugging early in the ninth, with Mosley charging and plodding forward after his opponent for much of the round. Alvarez seemed uncomfortable early in the round, unable to find a rhythm, then suddenly unloaded some of his best punches in the fight with about a minute left in the round.
The final three rounds were more of the same, and Mosley fought hard despite not being able to land much of anything that hurt Alvarez. He took punches and gave them as hard as he could until the final bell, but the significantly younger Alvarez was just more accurate and powerful, showing the judges he could hurt and stagger Mosley. His own chin never seemed rattled.
The ringside judges scored the bout 119-109 on two cards and 118-110 on the other, with Canelo comfortably coming out on top to retain his WBC super welterweight title. Alvarez performed well but showed some major weak spots in the fight, opening up the possibility for an Alvarez-Mayweather bout in the near future.