When Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather Jr. face off in the ring at the MGM Grand on Saturday night, it will be several years after a meeting between the two men was first mooted. According to Cotto, however, one person who wasn't entertaining the possibility when it was initially suggested, when both men were campaigning in and around the junior welterweight division, was Cotto himself.
"When I was at 140 pounds, I was an immature boxer, you know," he told reporters after the final prefight press conference on Wednesday. "I didn't think about him, because he was a great champion, he was a guy who was above me on all levels. But now we are in the same boat."
Asked what he will do to counter Mayweather's perceived advantages of speed and skill, Cotto offered no specifics, but merely the calm understated confidence that has long been his trademark.
"If nobody [has] found the way to beat Floyd Mayweather [so far], you're going to see how a person can beat Floyd Mayweather on Saturday," he said.
Mayweather, for his part, smiled at suggestions from journalists that perhaps Cotto might deploy his vaunted body attack or look to make their contest a brawl, and hinted at vulnerabilities in the Puerto Rican's defense.
"Even though Antonio Margarito got in trouble for loaded gloves, you've got to say to yourself: He's not that fast, so why was he even getting hit with those shots?" he asked rhetorically of Cotto's first professional defeat, which came in July 2008 in subsequently controversial circumstances. "I think I get to the target quicker because I throw straighter than some other fighters."
By and large, though, Mayweather remained, as he has been throughout the promotion, respectful toward his opponent.
"Miguel is a true warrior, a tough champion, and to go down in the Hall of Fame as one of the best, you have to face the true champions out there," Mayweather said.
Said Cotto: "He's been a gentleman the whole way with me. I've been a gentleman with him. That's the way it should be. You get paid to fight in the ring, not outside the ring."