Floyd Mayweather Jr. has labelled Miguel Cotto a 'true warrior' ahead of their World Boxing Association (WBA) super welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Mayweather is undefeated in 42 bouts (26 KOs) and Cotto is expected to put up a stern challenge in Saturday's contest in Las Vegas.
The flamboyant 35-year-old, nicknamed 'Money', is renowned almost as much for taunting his opponents outside the ring as for dominating them inside the ropes.
However, this time Mayweather Jr. has struck a complimentary tone and is full of respect for his opponent.
"Miguel is a true warrior, a tough champion, and to go down in the Hall of Fame as one of the best, you have to face the true champions out there," explained Mayweather.
On paper, the contest matches the peerless speed of Mayweather against the relentless body-punching of Cotto, but each man was at pains to play down his perceived advantages.
"I may come out and not be that fast," he continued. "He may come out and be fast.
"You don't know what they've been working on in their camp. They may have been working on just a certain thing just to get his speed up."
Cotto, 37-2 (30 KOs), who successfully defended his crown with a 10th-round technical knockout win over Antonio Margarito in December, was also full of respect ahead of the fight..
"He's been a gentleman the whole way with me," commented Cotto. "I've been a gentleman with him. That's the way it should be. You get paid to fight in the ring, not outside the ring."
The two men have been mooted as possible opponents since both were campaigning as super lightweights, but Cotto felt his chances would have been significantly diminished had they met earlier in his career.
"I didn't think about him because he was a great champion, he was a guy who was above me on all levels," he said.
"But now, we are in the same boat, and the preparation we had in our camp is going to be what gives us the victory on Saturday."
Mayweather Jr. might be undefeated in his career, but Cotto is quietly confident of breaking that record in Saturday's bout.
"Nobody has found the way to beat Floyd Mayweather so far," he concluded. "You're going to see how a person can beat Floyd Mayweather on Saturday."
Tags: Floyd Mayweather Jr. , Miguel Cotto , Mayweather-Cotto , Mayweather vs Cotto