By Kieran Mulvaney
Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto bring a combined record of 79 wins and 2 losses to the ring on Saturday night. In advance of their HBO PPV clash from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, we look back on three key fights from the career of each boxer.
Diego Corrales (Las Vegas, January 20, 2001)
Mayweather and Corrales were rival, undefeated 130-pound titlists when they clashed in Las Vegas, and there was no shortage of pundits who felt the lanky Corrales would prove too powerful. But in what arguably remains his greatest performance, Mayweather took Corrales apart, firing off fast combinations while exhibiting stellar defense. Corrales was unable to touch Mayweather, who floored him five times before Corrales’ corner stopped the contest in the tenth round.
Jose Luis Castillo (Las Vegas, April 20, 2002)
In the eyes of many observers, this was Mayweather’s toughest fight and the closest he came to defeat. Castillo applied constant pressure to Mayweather, frequently pinning him against the ropes and forcing the American on the defensive. At the bout’s end, many felt the Castillo had done enough to win, but all three judges saw the bout for Mayweather, who also won a unanimous decision in a rematch seven and a half months later. Several subsequent opponents have cited Castillo as setting the blueprint for how to beat Mayweather, but as the erstwhile Pretty Boy frequently points out, they may have all tried, but they have all failed.
Oscar De La Hoya (Las Vegas, May 5 2007)
This was the event that transformed Mayweather into a genuine superstar. The only previous occasion on which he fought at 154 lbs., Mayweather overcame some early resistance and a stiff De La Hoya jab to take over the fight in the second half and win a split decision victory. The 2.4 million pay-per-view buys remains a boxing record.
Ricardo Torres (Atlantic City, September 24, 2005)
Cotto was gaining a reputation as a hard-hitting, technically skilled but largely methodical body-puncher when he ran into Colombia’s Torres. Cotto dropped Torres in the first but was then battered and knocked down himself in the second, struggling to contend with Torres’ fast hands and hard punches. He sent Torres back to the canvas in the fourth, was hurt again in the fifth, put Torres down again in the sixth, and finally finished him in the seventh. It was the first occasion Cotto showed he could fight his way out of trouble and bring the crowd to its feet , that he could be exciting as well as effective.
Shane Mosley (New York, November 10, 2007)
Cotto displayed his boxing ability against dangerous and skilled veteran Mosley, punishing the former champion with a stiff left jab and overhand rights as Mosley stayed at a distance to avoid Cotto’s punishing body attack. The American rallied down the stretch, closing the gap and hurting Cotto on several occasions, but Cotto stuck to the game plan and won a unanimous decision. Afterward, Mosley dubbed his opponent “a young lion on his way to greatness.”
Antonio Margarito (New York, December 3, 2011)
The march to greatness Mosley had prophesied was interrupted when Cotto ran into the fists of Antonio Margarito in July 2008. But when, before a fight with Mosley, Margarito was found to have tainted handwraps, the cloud of suspicion swirled around his bout with Cotto. Did he cheat during that fight? Were his wraps loaded? Cotto admitted he struggled with his confidence after that loss, but he finally exorcised his demons with a dominant display against his former tormentor, closing his right eye and stopping him after 9 rounds. With revenge secured, Cotto says he has returned to his best, in time for the clash with Mayweather.