• Steve Bunce

Floyd must send message to Pacquiao against Cotto

Steve Bunce May 1, 2012

Miguel Cotto can cause Floyd Mayweather Jnr problems when they meet for the WBA light-middleweight title at the weekend, because there's no doubt that Mayweather's speed, reactions and timing are in slight decline (although he's probably punching harder than ever before).

Cotto will need to take all the risks he usually takes, get himself in space and stay there, and absorb and roll with the shots. If he does all that, he can push Mayweather hard for the first five, six or seven rounds of the contest in Las Vegas - but I expect Floyd to take charge after that. It is not a simple fight.

Mayweather will really have to dig deep here at times - he might win it comfortably on the scorecards, but you can take all 12 rounds and look like you have dominated but still have been through a really tough evening. I think that will be the case - I think it'll be a really difficult one for Mayweather.

It'll be no good Cotto coming out a bit bruised, a bit swollen but $10 million richer, and thinking, "What if I'd pushed it? What if I'd done this or that differently?" With a heroic performance, he could get himself a rematch and make $25 million, so he's got to go for it.

As for Mayweather, he's a smart guy and will realise that if he produces a massive performance here, then anyone who doubts his status as a major pay-per-view attraction will realise once and for all why he is the real deal. I don't think we'll see a cautious, careful performance like he produced against Shane Mosley - I think we'll see something aggressive.

He needs to be positive and send a message, mostly to Pacquiao but also to boxing fans. We had a snorefest with Bernard Hopkins, one of my favourite fighters, at the weekend when he lost the WBC light-heavyweight crown to Chad Dawson. Boxing really needs a superstar to be involved in a super fight.

I don't think the battle being at 154 pounds, the weight Cotto is more comfortable at and which Mayweather has competed at only once before, will be a factor. Mayweather will come in at the same weight he has done for his last five or six fights, you're not going to see a different shape to him, no crazy bulk added to his shoulders and chest.

It's not like when other fighters go up through the divisions and look transformed - Mayweather is not going to look any different. He's not a natural light-middleweight who rocks up on the night looking like a super-middleweight.

Having the contest at 154 is a bit of a risk for Mayweather, but you have to remember that Cotto was only a light-welterweight a few years ago, so they were competing at the same size around then. He's not some sort of monster who's come down a division or two.

Cotto has fought Pacquiao before, and that's relevant because Mayweather will want to do a better job than the Filipino did (12th-round stoppage). However, Floyd has been quick to point out that this is a different Cotto from the one that met Pacquiao at a catchweight in 2009 - in fact, Mayweather has said he considers Cotto unbeaten, so I don't think he's got any grounds to gloat if he does a better job than Pacquiao.

As for the recent moment when Mayweather, perhaps pointedly, claimed he couldn't recall the name of Timothy Bradley, Pacquiao's June opponent - well, Bradley is a terrific fighter, but he's an inferior opponent to Cotto when it comes to generating pay-per-view sales, and I think even Bradley would admit that. I don't feel that Floyd's being particularly mischievous there.

And finally, don't think the jail term he faces in June is going to play on Mayweather's mind. He's talking like he's about to do six years in solitary confinement on Alcatraz, but in effect he'll serve his time as a superstar and come out a superstar. The way he's talking, he's turned it into a positive almost and that is what Mayweather does.

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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.