Floyd Mayweather Jr.: Mayweather said after his one-sided victory over Miguel Cotto on Saturday night in Las Vegas that he could’ve won easily had he chosen to box throughout. He said he chose to fight because he wanted to entertain the fans. That was no choice. That was two aging legs that can no longer move for 12 rounds combined with an elite opponent with the skills and will to make him fight. Of course, Mayweather (43-0, 26 knockouts) deserves credit for digging deep when he had to. That’s no surprise, though; those who have followed his career closely know he’s a lot tougher than many believe. And the fact that he won convincingly – 10-2 in rounds on one card, 9-3 on two – in spite of spirited resistance is further evidence that he is a special fighter. Now it’s off to jail for a few months, which will give him plenty of time to figure out what comes next.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Miguel Cotto: Rarely has a fighter lost a one-sided decision yet enhanced his reputation as much as Cotto (37-3, 30 KOs) did on Saturday. The Puerto Rican veteran was supposed to be diminished after the beating he took from Antonio Margarito in 2008. A weak performance against Manny Pacquiao the following year seemed to support that notion. Cotto had difference ideas, though. He won three consecutive fights after the loss to Pacquiao, including revenge against Margarito, to remain relevant and earn a lucrative shot at Mayweather. And he stunned those who dismissed him going into Saturday. He did something no one does; he gave Mayweather a fight. In the process, he proved that he remains an important fighter and one of the best of his era. Next up could be Canelo Alvarez. Tough fight for the kid.
Mayweather-Pacquiao: Mayweather said immediately after the fight that he wants to give the fans what they most desire – a fight with Pacquiao, assuming Pacquiao beats Tim Bradley on June 9. Then, at the post-fight news conference, he pooh-poohed that notion when he reiterated that Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum would never let it happen. He called Arum Pacquiao’s boss, implying that he has final say. The good news for those who hold out hope that the fight will happen is that Pacquiao is the boss. The Filipino star can instruct Arum to accept an agreement to meet Mayweather if he finds the terms acceptable. The problem is the sides can’t come to terms. The hope here that one more round of negotiations will bear fruit. The fighters know time is running out.
Mayweather-Pacquiao: I have long believed that Mayweather would beat Pacquiao, who is at his best when his opponent engages him. We’ve seen how much trouble he had in three fights with elite counterpuncher Juan Manuel Marquez. I thought Mayweather would win because of his defensive and counterpunching skills, which are better than Marquez’s. Now I’m not so sure. I saw a vulnerable fighter on Saturday night, one who is still very good but perhaps a tick slower than he was and hittable against a good, determined opponent. Cotto probably is a better boxer than Pacquiao but his physical tools pale next to the Filipino’s, which is why Pacquiao won so easily when they fought. Mayweather said he could’ve beaten Cotto easily if he had chosen to box. If he fights Pacquiao, he’d better box or he could be in trouble.
Canelo Alvarez: The WBC junior middleweight titleholder didn’t dazzle anyone in his successful defense against Shane Mosley on the Mayweather-Cotto undercard. Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs) had few moments that stood out. He never really hurt Mosley except for one hellacious left to the body in the ninth round, which was the young Mexican’s best chance to score a knockout. That said, Alvarez turned in a strong performance. Mosley, 40, is a ghost of what he was but remains a solid fighter with valuable experience. And Alvarez dominated him from beginning to end. Alvarez, only 21, patiently picked Mosley apart with typically hard, crisp punches and took everything Mosley could land to win almost every round. It was another important step in his career. How would he do against Cotto? Well, we would definitely know where he stands. And if he won? “That fight could make him,” promoter Don Chargin said.
Shane Mosley: The biggest question going into the fight Saturday night was whether Mosley (46-8-1, 39 KOs) had anything left at 40. The answer, most would agree, is “not much.” But the old man deserves credit for never giving up in the face of a stiff challenge, which we couldn’t say after questionable efforts against Pacquiao and Mayweather left some people feeling cheated. Mosley doesn’t have the amazing physical tools he once did, which was a sad sight to behold. I can’t remember seeing his head snap back so many times. However, residual ability combined with determination to give a good showing made it a reasonably competitive fight even if Alvarez won a one-sided decision. Mosley didn’t cheat anyone on Saturday night, least of all himself. If that was his last fight, he went out punching. An interesting note: At one point Mosley’s record stood at 38-0 but he is only 8-8-1 since.
Carlos Quintana: As his 10-round junior middleweight fight with Deandre Latimore on the Mayweather-Cotto card progressed, it was clear that the left-handed Puerto Rican remains a difficult puzzle to solve. He proved an elusive target for Latimore and landed more and more damaging punches as the fight went on. Then, with Latimore struggling to stay competitive, Quintana (29-3, 23 KOs) landed one left and then another to put his opponent down and out in the sixth round, a spectacular finish to an impressive performance. Latimore (23-4, 17 KOs) is not a great fighter but he is solid and well known, meaning a victory over him is a significant boost for Quintana. The 35-year-old former welterweight titleholder now must be more active if he wants another shot at taking part in big fights. He has fought only twice since Andre Berto stopped him in eight rounds in April 2010.
Mayweather-Cotto card: I leaned over to the guy next to me on press row before the start of the Quintana-Latimore fight, the first of four featured on pay-per-view TV, and said: “We could be in for four dogs tonight.” He responded: “You might be right.” In the end, only one could be described in canine terms. The Jessie Vargas-Steve Forbes fight was a tactical bore. I still don’t understand why Vargas held back as much as he did; Forbes is a slick boxer but couldn’t hurt a strawweight. The other three televised fights were entertaining because of Quintana’s knockout and the fact that Cotto and Mosley performed better than many believed they would. The loud cheers of “COTTO, COTTO, COTTO” from an inspired crowd are still ringing in my ears. It was a fun night.
Mayweather, on his pending jail term for domestic violence: ”The only thing it can do is make me stronger as a person. When it comes to June 1, I have to accept it like a man.”
Follow Michael Rosenthal on Twitter @MichalRosenthal