Mayweather-Cotto Face Off—Sans Controversy

By David Matthew on April 29, 2012
Mayweather-Cotto Face Off—Sans Controversy
“Miguel Cotto is just like Floyd Mayweather,” said Floyd. “He has earned it the hard way."

Cotto’s signature stoic disposition may be impenetrable, even when matched up against one of the sport’s greatest performers both in and out of the ring…

As the war drum for the impending battle between Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto gets louder, the two fighters recently faced off against each other with HBO’s Max Kellerman. They looked each other in the eye, presented themselves to each other and to the world, and to the surprise (and apparent chagrin) of many, they displayed genuine respect for each other as fighters and as men.

Usually when Mayweather is facing off with opponents, he is finding ways to directly fluster them and monopolize their consciousness with confrontational tactics and psychological warfare.  Against Miguel Cotto, it is becoming abundantly clear that his signature stoic disposition may be impenetrable, even when matched up against one of the sport’s greatest performers both in and out of the ring.

During the course of the HBO Face Off, Mayweather was continually checking his iPad to get updates on his $100,000 bets—even if it meant interrupting Miguel Cotto in mid-sentence. While this would’ve certainly broken the concentration and calm of most fighters, Miguel Cotto barely flinched as he finished making his point, and then turned to Floyd asking, “So you have to win by four points or more, right?” Floyd then proceeded to explain the details of his bet to Cotto. Kellerman then asked Cotto what he thought of Mayweather’s “Money” persona and flashy swagger. Cotto simply shrugged, explaining that “he has what he has. He worked for that and can do whatever he wants.” While many fighters in the past have taken that opportunity to attack Mayweather’s character as money-hungry and disrespectfully flashy, Cotto was absent of judgmental condemnation and didn’t find any problem with how Mayweather chooses to spend his money or live his life.

Even more intriguing was Cotto’s response when asked to opine on the controversial fashion in which Mayweather dispatched Victor Ortiz last year. “I think the inexperience of Victor killed him,” Cotto explained. “He made the mistake and head-butted Floyd, and then said that he was sorry one time. One time. One time was enough, you know? Then when Cortez gave the signal to box, Ortiz failed to defend himself.”

This supremely honest account of the Mayweather-Ortiz fight seemed to do something to Mayweather, who began to shift in his seat as he was trying to acclimate himself to the man across from him who was given every chance to attack his character, yet instead chose to be strikingly real without indulging in contrived conflict and controversy. That’s who Miguel Cotto has been throughout his career, and that’s who he still is now.

Usually Mayweather isn’t connecting with his opponent in a real way. It is usually all for entertainment as Floyd slyly makes fun of the opponent in front of him. In this instance, it was a rare display of two fighters engaged in honest truth-telling, even if meant it didn’t provide the fans with the red meat controversy that so many in the fight game seem to lust.

“Miguel Cotto is just like Floyd Mayweather,” said Floyd. “He has earned it the hard way. He always conducts himself as a champion. Is he a Hall-of-Famer? Absolutely.”

We saw a Floyd Mayweather many haven’t seen before. That is, a Mayweather with such genuine respect for his opponent that he couldn’t find anything negative to say about Cotto. While Mayweather respects all of his opponents as fighters, he certainly doesn’t get along with a lot of fighters nor does he respect their swagger and personality. With Cotto, Mayweather seemed to see somebody that he would hang with if he wasn’t scheduled to do battle in the most intensively brutal fashion that organized sport has to offer. Mayweather not only complimented Cotto on his accomplishments as a fighter, but flashed his Money smile as he looked at Cotto’s Cartier watch, explaining that he also liked the taste of the Puerto Rican warrior’s fashion sense.

“We chose Miguel Cotto because he is solid and we want top competition and he’s one of the best. I look at him as if he is undefeated. He fought Pacquiao at a catchweight where Cotto was drained,” Mayweather explained. “He fought Antonio Margarito, who was cheating. So we’re fighting him at a catchweight where he is comfortable.”

Indeed, Mayweather is admirably moving up to 154 pounds to challenge Cotto for his middleweight title in a move that adds even more intrigue to a matchup that features two of the purest boxers in the sport.

While some may be disappointed that there wasn’t any hollering and anger-filled dramatics in this Face Off, this is not to say that Cotto and Mayweather aren’t ready to step into that ring and destroy each other.

Mayweather recognized that although Cotto is stoic and always poised, the warrior culture resonates inside of him and unleashes itself as soon as he steps into the square circle. “Cotto is a quiet killer, don’t let him fool you,” Mayweather said. “He must know that I’m not like no other fighter out there. I can give it and I can take it.”

Cotto stated that Mayweather is an elite fighter at the top of his game. “You haven’t seen any decline in Mayweather, he’s still at his peak. If you want to beat a fighter of the ability and skill of Mayweather, you have to be ready. I will trainer harder than him. I have to keep my belief in my mind throughout my training camp that I can and will win this fight—and I will be the first to beat him.”

As the always entertaining and masterfully produced 24/7 series is set to debut this weekend on HBO, it will be interesting to see if the present high regard and respect both fighters display towards each other will endure a four-part series that takes an intimate look into both fighter’s respective camps, particularly when the historical precedent of the series is that controversy and character attacks will eventually surface. Perhaps I am alone in this, but it would be refreshing to see these two champions resist the temptation to conjure up controversy when none seems to exist, and continue to build up their energies internally so that they may externally project that energy into the square circle on May 5th at the MGM Grand in Vegas, when the entire world will be watching the biggest fight of the year.

(The first episode of HBO’s “24/7 Mayweather vs. Cotto” is scheduled for Saturday, April 14th at 9:45 PM/ET)

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

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  1. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 04:43pm, 04/29/2012

    Mike Casey-Thanx anyway Mike but it’s the zither for me!

  2. mikecasey 08:01am, 04/11/2012

    “OK, gentlemen, who wants to be first to have a go at the xylophone?”

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