By Chris Robinson
In the span of a little over a month, two fights will dramatically shape the sport’s landscape when WBA junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto meets Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 5th and WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao puts his title on the line on June 9th against ambitious junior welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley.
Deep into his training in Indio, California, hopes are high in the camp of Bradley, who is undefeated with 28-0 record with 12 knockouts. Having spent a few days with the 28-year old champion last week, his confidence is striking to the point where he repeatedly chanted ‘Easy work’ when envisioning how the Pacquiao fight is going to play itself out.
With his Filipino rival embedded into his psyche these days, Bradley still showed enthusiasm when discussing the Mayweather-Cotto melee.
“It’s going to be a really good fight,” Bradley stated to me recently. “I think that Cotto’s going to put up a really good showing in the early rounds. If his conditioning is there, I think he can put up a good fight. But I’m definitely going to favor Floyd Mayweather in this fight, because of just pure speed and Mayweather comes in condition. Good timing, cat-like reflexes, great defense and tremendous offense. I’m going to go with Floyd Mayweather on this fight.”
Digging a little deeper into Bradley’s thoughts on Cotto, the Palm Springs native can’t overlook the horrific beating that the Puerto Rican star suffered at the hands of Antonio Margarito in July of 2008, a fight he lost by way of an 11th round TKO. And despite showing enough fortitude and vigor to turn the tables and get revenge against Margarito this past December, Cotto still hasn’t convinced Bradley that he is the same fighter.
“I think it kind of took a piece of him,” Bradley said of the Margarito defeat. “His pride, and that’s hard to gain back; confidence, that’s hard to gain back. He’s coming off three good fights so he is confident and he does believe in himself again, but then again, you go back and watch that fight, it took a chunk out of him. It was a beat down. When fighters get in the ring and they have wars like that and they get beat down, they leave a little piece of them in the ring.”
Turning his attention to Mayweather, Bradley gave his thoughts on a much more recent fight; Floyd’s 4th round knockout over Victor Ortiz this past September.
With Ortiz’s WBC welterweight belt in play, Mayweather tagged his much-younger foe in the opening rounds with piercing shots as he built up an early lead. A flagrant head-butt from Ortiz in the 4th would cost him a point and Mayweather returned the favor by catching Ortiz off-guard with a left-right combination that he never saw coming after referee Joe Cortez had called for a return to action.
Some labeled Mayweather’s blows as cheap shots, yet Bradley doesn’t seem to echo those sentiments.
“It was a lot of turmoil and drama; an eye for an eye, that’s what I think,” Bradley explained. “Ortiz cheap-shotted him and he got cheap-shotted right back. Protect yourself at all times and I think it was just a rook mistakes from Ortiz, apologizing constantly and dropping his hands and not protecting himself. And Floyd did exactly what he was supposed to do. If a guy deliberately head butts you, knock him out.”
Mayweather’s qualities as a fighter seem endless, from his great ring intelligence, athleticism, and tireless work ethic, but Bradley doesn’t seem too smitten with the 35-year old superstar.
“He’s beatable. Floyd Mayweather is beatable too,” Bradley stated convincingly. “He’s the next one on my list. After I take care of Pacquiao, I’m going to take care of Floyd Mayweather next.”
Asked to elaborate on how he would handle Floyd, Bradley offered up a look into his personal blueprint.
“You can’t outbox Mayweather, you’ve just got to hit him anywhere you possibly can,” said Bradley. “You can’t swing at the head, you got to attack the body, stay close to him, and don’t let him work. And that’s’ how you beat Floyd Mayweather, you keep him busy. And if you keep him busy and you are able to elude the counter punches, you’re in the fight.”