LAS VEGAS — With his nose bloody, and a slight swelling on areas of his face, WBC weltweight beltholder Floyd Mayweather Jr., knew that for one of the few times over the course of his unblemished career that he had been in a real fight.
“You’re a helluva champion,” Mayweather told his154-pound rival, Miguel Cotto. “You’re the toughest guy I ever fought.”
Mayweather, nevertheless, overcame his larger adversary on the way to a unanimous decision for Cotto’s WBA junior middleweight belt in front of 16,047 cheering, and, on occasion, standing fans on HBO Pay Per View on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“When fights are on pay per view, you want to give the fans what they pay for and that’s excitement. It comes with the territory when you fight a future Hall of Famer like Miguel Cotto. I had to fight hard, suck it up and he’s a tough competitor,” said Mayweather, who earned his eighth title in five weight classes.
“I knew that I was going to have to come into the ring, fight hard and execute the gameplan. Cotto is a future Hall of Famer. He’s no pushover. He came to fight. He didn’t come just to survive. He came to fight. I dug down and I fought him back.”
Robert Hoyle and Patricia Morse Jarmon each had it 117-111, while Dave Moretti scored it 118-110, all for Mayweather, who overcame some tense moments and the fourth-round bloody nose to improve to 43-0 with 26 knockouts.
Cotto (37-0, 30 KOs) had scored three straight stoppage victories since being dethroned as WBO welterweight beltholder by Manny Pacquiao in Novemvber of 2010, including December’s 10th-round stoppage of Antonio Margarito that had avenged the first loss of his career.
“The judges said that I lost the fight, and I can’t do anything else. I have to take my defeat,” said Cotto, whose guaranteed $8 million purse was four times less than Mayweather’s all-time record $32 million.
“I brought my best and I did my best every morning in the training camp. I did my best tonight. He knows what kind of fight Miguel Cotto brings, and so do the fans. I’m happy with my performance, and so is my family. I can’t ask for anything else.”
While Mayweather was putting the finishing touches on his triumph over Cotto, Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) was landing in Los Angeles to begin workouts on Monday at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, Calif., in preparation for his June 9 defense against WBO junior welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs).
Pacquiao takes a 15-bout winning streak that includes eight stoppages into his clash with Bradley, whom he will also face on HBO Pay Per View at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
It remains unclear whether or not a bout will ever take place between Mayweather and Pacquiao, with whom negotiations for a megabout have twice failed over the notion of drug testing.
Pacquiao has an ongoing lawsuit against Mayweather accusing him of defamation, charging that the fighter has continued to insinuate publicly that Pacquiao’s success over eight weight classes is the result of having used performance-enhancing drugs.
Mayweather has insisted that he and his his opponents were tested before his past three victories over Cotto, Shane Mosley in May and Victor Ortiz, in September, under Olympic-style random drug testing of urine and blood that was conducted by United States Anti-Doping Agency.
“I tried to make the Pacquiao fight, and that didn’t work, so I fought Miguel Cotto instead and gave the fans a fight. You know, I’m just trying to make that fight. I want to make that fight,” said Mayweather. “I want to fight Pacquiao, but he needs to take the test and I’ll fight him. Miguel Cotto agreed to take the blood and urine test, and Pacquiao can do the same.”
Meanwhile, Mayweather is scheduled to begin serving a 90-day jail sentence for a domestic violence case involving an attack on his ex-girlfriend while two of their children watched in September 2010.
“Look, that comes with the territory,” said Mayweather. “In life, there’s obstacles and I take the good with the good and the bad with the bad.”
JUSTIN BEIBER, PART OF ‘THE MONEY TEAM,’ WAS IN THE HOUSE
Among those who were part of Mayweather’s ringwalk was Justin Beiber, professional wrestler Triple H, rappers 50 Cent and Lil Wayne, and former featherweight beltholder Yuriorkis Gamboa.
“Justin Beiber’s a really good friend of mine. Justin Beiber, he always calls me. We always talk on the phone. He’s a part of the ‘Money Team.’ His movie was amazing,” said Mayweather.
“He’s an entertainer and I’m an entertainer, so he’s a cool guy. He sometimes calls me and asks me certain questions. I just give him my honest opinion. He’s a great little guy.”
Earlier on Saturday, Beiber Tweeted about Mayweather’s upcoming fight.
“cinco de mayo…. #MayweatherCotto yeah @FloydMayweather today is a BIG day.” Bieber followed up with the simple hashtag tweet “#FIGHTNIGHT.”
“What I noticed with Floyd is that people are more appreciative of him and realize that he comes to fight,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “To see him come in tonight with Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne and 50 Cent is really great for the sport of boxing.”
Photos by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org