By Eric Raskin
The last time Floyd Mayweather fought, the event was dubbed “Star Power.” This time, that name fits even better.
With Mayweather and Miguel Cotto sharing the prize ring, Saturday’s main event brings together two of the three biggest attractions in the sport in America. Mayweather is either “1a” or “1b” on that list, and Cotto has proven himself at the gate to the point that he’s clearly number three. Some fans will forever dwell on the fight that isn’t happening, between Mayweather and the other “1a/1b,” Manny Pacquiao. But if those fans focus on the fight that’s in front of them, they’ll see it’s the next best thing—or, at the very least, the next biggest thing.
Every boxing writer or fan has, at one time or another, criticized Mayweather’s choices in opposition. The chorus grew particularly loud back in 2005, when arguably the best boxer in the world marked time against Henry Bruseles and Sharmba Mitchell. But now, for the second fight in a row, “Money” is about to take on an opponent who is younger than he is, is probably bigger and physically stronger than he is, and is coming off a noteworthy victory. Sure, there was room to criticize the selection of Victor Ortiz last September, and the same goes for Cotto (hey, it’s hard to find a matchup that satisfies everyone). But you can make a valid case that, Pacquiao aside, Mayweather has taken on the toughest available opponent in each of his last two fights.
The question the boxing world will debate all week until the opening bell is, just how tough will this particular toughest available opponent make it on Floyd? Cotto is the underdog, of course—everyone is against Mayweather. But there are many who believe Cotto, fighting at his natural weight of 154 pounds, is a very live ’dog.
“Nobody is invincible in life,” Cotto stated at a recent media workout, acknowledging Mayweather’s undefeated record. “I’m ready for anything Floyd brings me on May 5. The question is, is Floyd ready for anything Miguel can bring to him?”
There will be plenty of time this week to break down the Xs and Os, and we’ll do quite a bit of that here at InsideHBOBoxing.com. But before the fight takes center stage, let’s appreciate what Mayweather vs. Cotto means as an event. These are two men each with their own massive fan bases, each with distinct personalities, each experienced on boxing’s grandest stage.
They’re calling this one “Ring Kings,” and that’s a name that fits just fine. But it’s the “Star Power” that brought these ring kings together.