By Jake Donovan
The biggest fight of 2012 to date has arrived, as Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are set to square off in their blockbuster headliner. The bout airs live tonight on HBO PPV from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (9PM ET/6PM local time).
In terms of trinkets, Cotto’s alphabet 154 lb. title is at stake, as well as a diamond-encrusted belt from another sanctioning body who felt the need to get involved with the event.
For Mayweather Jr. (42-0, 26KO), tonight’s fight is a relatively quick turnaround. The pound-for-pound king began his second tour as lineal welterweight champ in 2010, averting disaster in the second round to dominate Shane Mosley en route to a wide decision. A 16-month hiatus followed, before knocking out Victor Ortiz last September to pick up yet another alphabet belt to add to his already fully stocked trophy case.
There remains the insistence that Mayweather Jr. plans to return in the fall, but how likely that is depends on the level of his opposition. Tonight’s bout will be his last before heading to prison on June 1. Mayweather Jr. is set to serve a sentence of approximately three months as per terms of a plea agreement stemming from domestic violence charges.
No such obstacles exist for Cotto (37-2, 30KO), other than the one in front of him that could potentially end his run as a top attraction. While the Puerto Rican superstar boasts a stellar resume through 12 years as a pro, absent is a truly career-defining win. Damaging losses to Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao are bigger than any of his 37 wins to date.
A victory over Mayweather would forever change that, but the 6-1 odds in place suggest yet another massive uphill climb for the fan favorite.
In the chief support, unbeaten rising star Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez takes on his biggest name to date, as he faces faded former three-division champ Shane Mosley.
Alvarez (39-0-1, 29KO) makes the fourth defense of the 154 lb. belt he acquired last March. Mosley (46-7-1, 39KO) fights for the first time since his non-effort versus Pacquiao one year ago.
Read on to see what the Boxingscene.com staff believes will take place in both bouts
PREDICTIONS – COTTO vs. MAYWEATHER JR.
“I think it will take Mayweather a couple rounds to get comfortable with Cotto. I then expect Mayweather to set the pace and potshot Cotto leading to a stoppage on cuts around the 8th round in what will be a one-sided yet exciting fight.”
– Ryan Burton (Mayweather Jr.)
“Mayweather Jr. TKO10 in a fight (and performance) reminiscent of his Dec. ’07 showing versus Ricky Hatton. Cotto will enjoy early success, but the fight is no longer competitive the moment Mayweather Jr. gets going. The fight will end with Cotto battered on the ropes before being saved by either the referee or via white towel his corner.”
– Jake Donovan (Mayweather Jr.)
“Mayweather UD. A strong, sound and motivated Cotto might very well be - in terms of where his is on the career arc - the best foe Mayweather has met. What's beyond debate, however, is that Mayweather is indeed the best the Puerto Rican has been in with. And in the end, that'll be what matters. Expect the reigning champ to win some rounds, create some headaches and maybe have a lead... but ultimately fail to close the deal amid a down-the-stretch rally that shows "Money's" ability to dig deep.”
- Lyle Fitzsimmons (Mayweather Jr.)
“Mayweather TKO9- it will be interesting early on but slowly Mayweather's accuracy will start to take it's toll on Cotto.”
– Ernest Gabion (Mayweather Jr.)
“Mayweather TKO10 – Cotto gets hit too much and Mayweather hasn’t slowed down a bit yet. Curious to see how he carries the extra weight, but I don’t see it being an issue.”
- Thomas Gerbasi (Mayweather Jr.)
“Mayweather UD. Cotto is enjoying a renaissance with new trainer Pedro Diaz, but Mayweather will not approach him in a straight line the way a faded Antonio Margarito did last year. I expect Floyd to find ways to stay off the ropes for prolonged periods of time and avoid Miguel's left hand to unleash the harder, cleaner shots en route to a decisive--if not dominant--victory..”
– Ryan Maquinana (Mayweather Jr.)
“Mayweather TKO12. Mayweather may see Cotto as undefeated, but Cotto's body tells a different story. Since the first Margarito fight, Cotto has had problems with swelling and the accuracy of Mayweather will bring it to the fore. Mayweather won't have an easy night, and should have trouble with Cotto's counter jab, but Floyd's reaction to fighters who bring it offensively has usually been to answer, and with a chip on his shoulder. For Cotto, it will mean a fight where the punishment mounts and one where the late rounds see him too easy to hit. Mayweather has a big chance to score a stoppage late, though a decision win might be the more likely outcome.”
– Cliff Rold (Mayweather Jr.)
“Mayweather UD. A fight that on paper looks competitive just doesn't seem like it will be. Floyd isn't coming off a long lay off like he normally does so he'll be sharper than ever which means bad news for Cotto. Cotto's a very technically sound fighter with a great jab but his wide punches won't beat Floyd's straight ones. Floyd wins a fairly dominant decision.”
- Luis Sandoval (Mayweather Jr.)
Total picks: Floyd Mayweather Jr. 8, Miguel Cotto 0
PREDICTIONS – ALVAREZ vs. MOSLEY
“I think Mosley will give his best effort in years leading to a competitive fight. I think Alvarez and Mosley will both taste the canvas and that Canelo will come out with a unanimous decision around the score of 115-111.
– Ryan Burton (Alvarez)
“Alvarez by late stoppage. Mosley will offer one last brave stand – or at least a lot braver than what was offered in his past few fights. Alvarez will survive a minor scare or two and batter Mosley into submission somewhere in the championship rounds of a largely one-sided affair.”
– Jake Donovan (Alvarez)
“Mosley UD. No sane man picks a 40-year-old fighter who's not won in three years to come in and dominate a kid who's 19 years younger and a more natural fit in a given weight class. However, when that 40-year-old is Shane Mosley, some usually sane men are overtaken by sentiment. Count me in as one who believes the champ is just green enough to fall under the 12-round spell of a three-division champ insisting he's got one more big trick left in the bag.
- Lyle Fitzsimmons (Mosley)
“ Alvarez W12 – Would like to see one last great stand from Mosley, but Alvarez should be too young and strong for Sugar Shane.”
- Thomas Gerbasi (Alvarez)
“Mosley TKO6 – yeah, I said it!”
– Ernest Gabion (Mosley)
“After two straight underwhelming performances against Sergio Mora and Manny Pacquiao, the story isn't if Mosley has anything left but rather whether Alvarez has grown enough since his last outing to take advantage of the situation. I think he'll outwork Mosley on the strength of his body punching combined with Shane's recent lack of aggression.”
– Ryan Maquinana (Alvarez)
“Saul Alvarez TKO6. This fight is brutal, the sort of ritual sacrifice boxing has engaged in for years with a typical hue and cry from moralizers who didn't say enough before the first bell. Mosley hasn't won a fight in years, had just enough gas to go two hard with Floyd Mayweather two years ago, and had terrible reflex and reaction against Sergio Mora and Manny Pacquiao. Alvarez may not be as slick, but he's younger, bigger, and has heavy hands. This looks likes it's going to be beating and one where Mosley's corner has to save him by the mid-rounds..”
– Cliff Rold (Alvarez)
“Alvarez UD. While I'd like to pick an upset, we are far removed from January 2009. A punchers chance will always exist with Mosley but Canelo will prove to be too much for the aging veteran. Canelo has shown some improvements and I just don't see Mosley being able to sustain an attack for 12 rounds.”
- Luis Sandoval (Alvarez)
Total picks: Saul Alvarez 6, Shane Mosley 2
The HBO PPV event begins at 9:00PM ET/6:00PM PT. A “FreeView” portion will offer coverage of bouts deeper on the undercard, with webcasts beginning at 7:00PM ET, airing live on websites for UStream, Crave Online, Sports Illustrated and HBO.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments via e-mail.