For a long while now, I have been talking about how disappointing it is to watch Floyd Mayweather Jr. win his fights.
I’ve said that ever since his fight with Arturo Gatti, he talks the game of an ass-kicker who doesn’t kick ass; a brilliant fighter who wins bouts flawlessly but boringly, never backing up his harsh pre-fight talk.
I’ve said it would be great to see him embrace that side of himself we saw in his fight with Gatti—that offensive whirlwind that was poetic to the point of being a true symphony of destruction.
And I’d also said I doubted he would ever show us that side of himself again, because he didn’t want to risk getting caught.
Last night, against the hard-hitting Miguel Cotto, Mayweather Jr. made crow out of my words and I am happy to eat them.
It was an incredible, thrilling fight that saw Mayweather Jr. give the kind of performance his critics cannot ignore. In fact, I can’t imagine one thing anyone could say about his fight with Cotto that isn’t in the form of praise.
Last night, Mayweather Jr. did it all, and then some.
It was the kind of fight that is going to stand taller than most—if not all—of his previous victories because of what he risked and how he won. He was both offensive risk-taker and defensive counter-puncher, but this time, he stood and traded.
Of course, Mayweather Jr. is still the very best defensive fighter in the world today, so the damage he took was based on his willingness to get hit; which was something I never thought I’d see.
Last night, he was more than willing to eat a punch and keep fighting offensively; fighting more like Sugar Ray Leonard than the Mayweather Jr. we’ve come to expect. He’d attack, then get hit, then hit back, then get hit back some more, then hit back.
It was simply beautiful.
Mayweather Jr. probably made more fans last night than he ever has in his career. He was bloodied and bruised, and amid it all, he was never really in any kind of true danger; he was dancing with jeopardy, close and tight, always leading.
And that says a lot, given that he was fighting Miguel Cotto.
Cotto did better against Mayweather Jr. than anyone else ever has. He did good work to the body, and even though there was a huge mismatch in speed, he was able to land punches to the head as well.
Never before has Mayweather Jr. looked so roughed up, save for his bout against Emanuel Burton when he was a young man.
And all the while Cotto was landing heavy leather; never did Mayweather Jr. retreat into that near impenetrable defensive shell that’s been seen every fight since the Gatti fight.
Mayweather Jr. showed that he was willing to take a punch in order to land a punch, which is something he didn’t have to do. He could have strafed Cotto at distance and won a safety-first, boring fight while taking little to no damage.
But he chose a different road to victory last night, and in doing so, he defeated many of his critics and detractors in the wisest way of all.
He turned them into fans, serving them whiskey instead of wine.