By Chris Robinson
In winning a unanimous decision in a grueling battle with Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night, Floyd Mayweather Jr. stayed true to his promise of delivering action and entertainment on all fronts. And while the 118-110 scorecard and the pair of 117-111 tallies in Mayweather’s favor might give the impression of a comfortable night’s work for Floyd, it was anything but the case for the Grand Rapids, Michigan native.
Mayweather was definitely pushed to the limit and came away from the fight with a bloodied nose and bruises on his face. At the end of the night the better man won and it was of the most telling performances from Mayweather that we have seen to date.
Catching up with Larry Merchant after the fight, as the HBO analyst was ringside for last night’s show, he gave to me his thoughts on yet another memorable night at the fights.
“I thought that it was more action and drama than there has been in most Mayweather fights,” Merchant stated. “It got the crowd into it and I don’t think anybody asked for their money back. I thought Cotto was capable of making it a rough fight. He’s naturally a little bit stronger and bigger. I didn’t know how much effort he had in him, coming off the most emotional win of his career. But he showed he was a true pro, he represented himself and his career very well.”
Mayweather had said after the fight that the reason he stood more flat-footed while going toe to toe with Cotto as opposed to backpedaling and boxing was because of his eagerness to please the viewing public. In response to that statement, Merchant was instead quick to give Cotto his due.
“Look, first you’ve got to give Cotto credit,” said Merchant of the Puerto Rican banger. “The way I look at those things is, if he was fighting you or me or some other guy out here, he’d look fabulous. But you give high marks to Cotto and you give higher marks to Mayweather. I think the margin of difference in the fight was larger than the margin of difference in the actual ring.”
Merchant was recently quoted as saying that last night’s event was to build towards a fight between Mayweather and WBC junior middleweight champion Saul Alvarez, who last night defended his title with a gritty and concise decision over three-division champion Shane Mosley on the undercard.
Merchant spoke on Alvarez’s effort and clarified exactly what he meant by his remarks.
“I thought he gave a good performance,” Merchant said of the 21-year old champion. “What I said was, Alvarez believed he was auditioning for Mayweather. And he did believe that and he’s called out Mayweather in the past. But after the fight I spoke to Oscar De La Hoya and he said ‘No, he’s not ready for Mayweather yet’.”
Mayweather had mentioned that he would like to continue fighting until the age of 37 and Merchant sees only one realistic opponent that would satisfy the public’s demands.
“Hopefully it’s [Manny] Pacquiao but I don’t know what the options are,” Merchant stated. “It may depend on what happens with Pacquiao and Bradley, it may depend on what happens with Khan and Peterson, and it may depend on when his accountants tell him he should go after another big purse.”
Merchant was asked if his perception of a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight has changed after seeing Floyd in such a rough dog fight with Cotto last night.
“It may have changed some people’s opinions,” Merchant explained. “It’s a question of styles and strengths, and I think maybe people who favored Mayweather by a lot now see that there might be a way for a guy as fast as Pacquiao to make a better fight than they thought before.”
Pacquiao has a tough assignment lined up as he will be defending his WBO welterweight crown against undefeated Timothy Bradley on June 9th yet Merchant seems to think the Filipino whirlwind will find a way to prevail.
“He’s a tough little guy, he’s awkward, he’s clever,” Merchant said respectfully of Bradley. “I kind of think Manny will find a way to get his punches in.”