LAS VEGAS – WBC welterweight titleholder Floyd Mayweather Jr. is featured on the cover of the lastest edition of ESPN Magazine along with the words “The Money Issue” in advance of Saturday night’s HBO Pay Per View-televised clash with WBA junior middleweight beltholder Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Mayweather (42-0, 26 knockouts), who is 35, is pursuing his eighth belt in five weight classes against Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs), a 31-year-old three-division titleholder from Caguas, Puerto Rico.
“I’m going straight in to dictate the pace from the beginning. That’s my ultimate goal. It’s to get in there and to be in control from the opening bell,” said Mayweather.
“I don’t waste no time. They say that he’s a slow starter, but I’m ready now. If the fight was today, they could give us the gear.”
COTTO SAYS HIS CONFIDENCE IS BACK
Despite Mayweather’s insistence that Cotto is an “undefeated” fighter, owing to allegations that Antonio Margarito may have been wearing loaded gloves for their fight in July of 2008, and then a catchweight that left Cotto physically drained against Manny Pacquiao in November of 2009, Cotto himself takes a different view.
“Pacquiao was better than me that night,” said Cotto. “I accept the Pacquiao loss.”
Cotto avenged the loss to Margarito by 10th-round knockout victory last December, a triumph that represented his third straight stoppage since falling to Pacquiao. The win over Margarito was Cotto’s first under new trainer Pedro Diaz, whom he credits with helping to restore his confidence.
“In my case, the Margarito fight took away a lot of the good things that I had before, like confidence in myself, like anxiousness to get into the gym and to do my work and to put myself into my training. All of the trust that I had in myself, it took that away from me,” said Cotto.
“But with the victory on December 3, all of those things came back to me. I’ve felt better since day one. If this fight had happened before December 3, that would not have been the right time. Now is the right time for this fight.”
WHAT WILL COTTO’S STRATEGY BE?
Former three-division titleholder Felix Trinidad believes that Cotto should dictate a battle in the trenches against Mayweather.
“He should stay toe-to-toe with Mayweather, round by round, close to Mayweather like all Puerto Ricans know how to do,” said Trinidad during an interview with Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Dia newspaper. “Put all his heart in and stay toe-to-toe. Try to look for a good shot and soften him little by little.”
But Cotto said a straight-ahead attack would not be wise against Mayweather.
“If you go into a fight with just one style, and just one plan to fight a guy like Mayweather, who is used to running, who is used to punching, and who has skills, then you’re going to fail. You have to use more than one plan,” said Cotto.
“We’ve prepared ourselves for more than one plan, we feel that we’re ready for him, and everybody’s going to see that next Saturday,” said Cotto, who was known for being a body puncher in the past. I’m going to use all of the tools that I have in my bag, and I’m going to follow the pace that we’ve made for me and developed for me in this camp. If can accomplish that, then I’m going to be the winner.”
Cotto’s career highlights include victories over past and current titleholders Paulie Malignaggi, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Zab Judah, Joshua Clottey, Ricardo Mayorga, Yuri Foreman, Carlos Quintana and DeMarcus Corley.
Mayweather also has beaten Judah and Mosley, the latter of whom he defeated by one-sided unanimous decision in May of 2010. Cotto hinted that the approach to his victory over Mosley, in November of 2007, is more likely to be employed against Mayweather.
“If you look back on 2007, and the fight with Shane Mosley, they said that he has strength and that he had quickness to beat me. But on the night of the fight, it was the same. The speed looked equal, and I feel prepared enough to be as quick as Floyd Mayweather, and to be tougher and to be stronger than Mayweather. So I will just do my work, and use the tactical plans that we’ve come up with in training,” said Cotto.
“Being aggressive during the moments when I have to be aggressive, and being a boxer during the moments that I have to be a boxer. Just being a better fighter than Floyd Mayweather has seen. If nobody has found the way to beat Floyd Mayweather, if you want to see how a person can beat Floyd Mayweather, watch next Saturday. “