TQBR Roundtable, True Bromance Edition: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Vs Miguel Cotto

So continues our marathon coverage of one of the biggest fights of 2012, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Miguel Cotto on May 5 on HBO pay-per-view. Previously: the stakes of Mayweather-Cotto; the undercard, previewed; keys to the fight, parts I and II; a Rabbit Punch column; the final preview and prediction. Next: the ulitmate guide.

There was a lot of love in the air in the weeks leading up to the first blockbuster PPV of the year, headlined by Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Miguel Cotto. We saw, via 24/7, the unusually close relationship between Cotto and his manager, Bryan Perez. On the same show, we have endured another edition of the Sam and Diane tango between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and rapper/BFF 50 Cent, a relationship that has delivered diminishing returns since 50 rode in on his Segway all those 24/7s ago.

Above all, there was a cordial respect between the principles of the fight, one that tempered the buzz around one of the biggest-money matchups in recent years.

Then, this week, Floyd Mayweather revived his “Money” heel persona and all was right with the world again.

As fight night rapidly approaches, the TQBR staff gathers once again around the old Roundtable to discuss our anticipation for this matchup, whether Cotto has a chance, and which blossoming bromance makes us the most uncomfortable.

Joining us for this edition of the Roundtable are Alex McClintock, Karl Greenberg, Jeff Pryor, Patrick Connor, Andrew Harrison, Mark Ortega and Tim Starks.

1. Does Mayweather deserve any credit for fighting Cotto at a higher weight, or is any Mayweather fight other than Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao unsatisfying? Are you excited for the fight or has it passed its expiration date?

Alex: If we’re talking about in comparison to Pacquiao then yeah, I reckon Mayweather deserves to get more credit for fighting Cotto at 154 than Pacquiao did for fighting him at 145. Apart from the weight, Mayweather seems to be fighting Cotto at a time when he has the appearance of a boxer in the midst of a late career revival with a successful new trainer and committed family group/team. I am excited for this fight, despite the fact that it would have been much more intriguing back in 2007 or 2008. Who knows if Mayweather-Pacquiao will ever happen, so you’re only going to make yourself miserable as a boxing fan if you hate on everything else.

Karl: Jesus, I’M past my expiration date. If I were a chimp, I’d have been chased away from the clan to die in the woods. I’m at the point where I’m going to have to refinance the borrowed time that I’ve been living on for the last ten years. That said, I’m excited for anything these days that gets me out of the house. No, I don’t think Cotto stands a chance, but we have arrived at the point with Mayweather that anyone with a puncher’s chance of landing a punch — any punch — makes a worthy fight. I’m at the point with Mayweather that I will consider it a staggering victory if someone manages to raise a welt somewhere on his corpus animus. As for the weight issue — if Mayweather is willing to fight Cotto at a higher weight it means both of them need to go to Jenny Craig.

Jeff: I think Mayweather gets a little credit, but honestly Cotto is a bit of a spent bullet at this point. If we HAVE to compare it to the circumstances Pacquiao faced him at… I actually still think this is an easier matchup than the more weight-drained 145 pound version of Cotto. The beating he took from Pacquiao and in a victorious but still tough fight in the rematch against Antonio Margarito will have taken a lot more of a toll on his body than dropping that extra three pounds did. This fight is past its expiration, no doubt, but Cotto is a real fighter and he’ll conduct himself as such. That’s always exciting and worthwhile.

Patrick: He deserves some smudge of credit when compared to Pacquiao’s victory over Cotto, but it’s largely outweighed by the fact that the match-up should have already happened, at a time when Floyd wasn’t quite a part-time fighter and Cotto hadn’t been bludgeoned by Margarito yet. Right after Cotto beat Shane Mosley would’ve been the perfect time for this fight. Oh well. As for excitement, it’s similar to how I felt before the Victor Ortiz fight: slightly optimistic the early rounds may be fun, but resigned to an eventual dominant Mayweather win. Lukewarm.

Andrew: Mayweather isn’t seeking challenges at this late stage of his career and it is to be hoped that his allowing the fight to take place at junior middleweight isn’t championed as a creditable act. More likely he bartered a bigger purse split in relenting to fight there – omelettes and broken eggs and all that. Floyd has carefully selected an opponent he assumes is past it physically yet (crucially) hasn’t mulched into mouldy old dough at the box office. Personally, I think it’s an OK fight, not exciting in any way but I’d watch it. Like the Puerto Rican, Mayweather has slipped a bit over recent years but there’s enough left of both men to make for a entertaining fare.

Mark: Floyd deserves more credit for taking this fight at 154 rather than a catchweight like Manny did, though Manny fought him closer to his best. Floyd didn’t look his best against Oscar at 154 and it is the most beatable he has looked since the two Jose Luis Castillo fights near the turn of the millennium. Although 154 is not where Cotto was ever at his best, it is a more natural weight to Miguel than it is to Floyd at this point in their respective careers. That makes it a much fairer fight than when Manny made Cotto come in a few pounds shy of the welterweight limit, especially since Miguel was defending a welterweight strap. I applaud Floyd for fighting for a belt at the actual weight limit that title is being contested for. Catchweight fights where the champion has to come in lighter are a huge joke to me. The fight is well past when it would have been the best fight for both, but I’m still reasonably excited for it.

Tim: Mayweather-Pacquiao looks, to me, like a fight past its expiration date, at least competitively. In terms of marketability, it is only somewhat diminished, because they’re still the two best and best-known fighters in the world. Under the circumstances, Mayweather-Cotto is one of the better available options, and exactly because Mayweather manned up by moving up to the higher weight for it (an act of manliness he would probably forsake should middleweight champ Sergio Martinez come a-knockin’ at 154 pounds, since that fight would probably be at a too-low 150). But oh, how I wanted Mayweather-Cotto after Mayweather-Ricky Hatton. It’s been a lifetime in the ring for Cotto since. He’s had not one but two wars that would ruin plenty of fighters, and while there’s a good amount of boxing yet in the lad, I can’t help but pine for what might have been had they faced one another prime-vs.-prime. This is, as Andrew said, Mayweather picking the right time to face an opponent he sees as weakened in the ring but still viable at the box office.

Scott: Some of you guys are killjoys. This is a fight I’ve been waiting a long time to see and I can’t wait for Saturday. These are two of the defining fighters of the last ten years and two of the biggest stars in boxing. I’m probably as excited as I could be for a big fight outside of Mayweather-Pacquiao.

2. Do you give Cotto any hope of winning the fight, other than the cliché, “well, anybody in a fight has a chance…”? Does he have a realistic shot? If he scores the upset, what will be the impact on each fighters’ legacy?

Alex: I don’t really see a way that Cotto can win. That said, I find it really difficult to picture what this fight is going to look like, period. Cotto’s massive reach disadvantage is going to make things difficult for him, whether he chooses to use pressure or attempts to box on the back foot. Beating Cotto is just another entry in May’s legacy, but beating May would be huge for Cotto – perhaps putting him in the “modern great” category along with Pac and May.

Karl: None. No chance. If he wins this fight I will eat my hat and then go to Jenny Craig. If Cotto wins this fight I will sell the $250 worth of great motorcycle gear I just bought in a midlife crisis spasm (it’s worth close to a grand but that’s another story) for $300, using the $50 profit to help defray the cost of Cotto’s next tat.

Jeff: I give Cotto a 10 percent chance at the upset. I think there’s a pretty good chance he’s dripping blood, getting dropped and stopped mid to late. The one hope Cotto has is that he can sting Mayweather with something and capitalize. If he can take those hard counter shots and fire back as Mayweather is throwing he may be able to change the whole complexion of the fight. Floyd has the tendency to pull straight back; even Juan Maneul Marquez caught him a few times and Cotto may have luck there if he can stay aggressive. And it’s probably time for him to dust off what used to be a devastating body attack. You know… a one in ten chance isn’t terrible if you’re in against someone of Mayweather’s caliber and if Mosley can sting Mayweather, and if Ortiz can touch him a bit, it’s not impossible, just unlikely.

Patrick: As I see it, Cotto has a legitimate shot at frustrating Floyd a bit with some well-timed clinching, and maybe even some nice jabbing, but he’d be unwise to sit in front of Floyd Mayweather and try to establish much of a body attack. That’s not to say he shouldn’t go to the body, but it would leave himself open for some stanky counters from Floyd if he stayed there long. Banking on a shot or two to take Floyd out is a sucker bet, and while Cotto probably can’t win the distance game due to the hand speed disparity (and overall mastery of Floyd from that range, to be fair), I’m not sold that Miguel’s durable enough to take a lot of blindside shots at this point. Long story short: no, I don’t believe he has a realistic shot. A win for Cotto would boost his career something ridiculous, and the rematch would be huge.

Andrew: I give Cotto a solid chance. He’s the most intelligent fighter Floyd has faced in half a decade (excepting Marquez, who hadn’t managed to hook up with steroid supplier Angel Hernandez… Heredia… whatever he’s calling himself this week… by that point and so was too shrimpy to stand a chance). The Caguas man’s intelligent pressure can pay dividends for him here, especially if Floyd finds himself going through the motions. Legacies? Urrgh. I think time and perspective is necessary in order to weigh up a fighter’s true worth — look at Roy Jones. After flitting around John Ruiz there were some sage minds willing to exalt him alongside a Robinson or a Leonard. A few fights later and it was all change again. The truth will out, usually. Let’s see where they wind up at the end.

Mark: Due to the fact that Floyd looked beatable in his one stop at junior middleweight, I give Cotto a better chance than most. I still expect Floyd to make this fight not too competitive, winning an 8-4 style decision. If Miguel wins, it skyrockets him into discussions as being one of the best Puerto Rican fighters of all-time. Floyd’s legacy would be drastically altered because, at this point, his “0” is his biggest legacy considering we missed out on so many of the top fights available for him at any given time. He hasn’t fought the top man at any weight since the Jose Luis Castillo fights at 135 and that is what makes it so important that he holds onto his unblemished record.

Tim: The current odds of 7-1 sound about right to me. I suppose that inches into “realistic” territory, just, highly unlikely. Should Cotto pull it off, I won’t look at Mayweather’s legacy any differently than it currently stands — he’s already accomplished a ton, and a loss doesn’t make any of that go away. It’s Cotto who really benefits from that upset: instant Hall of Fame ticket punched.

Scott: Do I expect Cotto to win? No. Do I think he has a chance? Absolutely. He’s big, strong, has an excellent jab (arguably the best outside of Wladimir Klitschko in the sport), and won’t go down without a serious fight. I give Cotto around a 30 percent chance to win this fight, and that to me is a real legitimate shot.

3. More squirm-inducing bromance: Floyd and 50 Cent or Cotto and manager Bryan Perez? Discuss.

Alex: Perez and Cotto. Floyd and Fitty are a strange couple, but they’re at least equal partners. Something weirds me out about Perez being a huge Cotto fan before befriending him, working for him and sleeping in his bed. That seems a very unbalanced foundation for a friendship/bromance to me.

Karl: Forget that, how about the weird face-off scene with Cotto and Mayweather? That was a nausea-inducing experience that transcends even the Fitty/Mayweather BFF crap: It was like watching best girlfriends compare clothes and dish on the gals who aren’t there. And then Mayweather gets his tablet on to check his betting scores. I would have loved it if Cotto had grabbed the thing and… sorry, I haven’t taken my meds yet. How in God’s name does Mayweather keep his teeth so white? Are those real teeth?

Jeff: Squirm-inducing bromance? I’m going outside the boundaries on this one and saying Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas. And it’s only a proximity thing; have you ever noticed how closely they have to stand and stare at one another in their two shot? Tessitore has a plastered on grin but his eyes look haunted. I feel like the excitable Atlas may also be the sort of guy who sprays a little when he talks. Just seems like a very intimate space.

Patrick: Fifty Doggy Dog got shot a few times, so… I’m down with OPP.

Andrew: Floyd needs a big brother; Cotto needs a clown. I think Karl’s question is more pressing. How are those teeth so white? Over here you can climb social classes by just having a couple of straight ones. He’d be a God in England.

Mark: Cotto and Perez sleep in the same bed occasionally, so I’ll take that bromance via TKO1.

Tim: I wish Floyd and Fitty would just get it over with and kiss already. Maybe they have; maybe that’s the “exciting content” that HBO 24/7’s producers are keeping from the public, to Floyd’s Twitter-ranting dismay.

Scott: Something about the Floyd and 50 relationship creeps me out. I can’t explain it. I don’t want to think too much about it. It is what it is. And it’s creepy.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.