By Kieran Mulvaney
The blueprint for how to defeat Floyd Mayweather was laid down by Jose Luis Castillo 10 years ago:
Back Floyd Mayweather to the ropes, and keep him pinned there as much as possible. Work to the body. Hit him anywhere you can, just keep hitting him, without winding up and over-committing. Keep him pinned, keep him pressured. Make him uncomfortable.
For the best part of eight rounds on Saturday night in Las Vegas, Miguel Cotto did just that. He tucked his chin, pumped his jab, and used his left hook to keep Mayweather in front of him. And when he had him where he wanted him, he threw combinations, digging to the body and not showing concern when the punches that were aimed for the head glanced off the shoulders of his defensively sublime opponent.
He kept trying, kept plugging away, and round by round, he seemed to be steadily making progress. He bloodied Mayweather’s nose, and in the eighth he launched a sustained assault that had the Puerto Rican crowd roaring. Mayweather was smiling and shaking his head, to indicate that the punches weren’t landing cleanly, but for the first time in a decade, Floyd Mayweather was in a fight.