LAS VEGAS -- Five things we learned from Saturday's Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto card at the MGM Grand:
1. There's good, there's very good, and there's great
With every fight, Mayweather is moving up the all-time list. For years, one knock on his record was that, as good as he frequently looked, we didn't know how he would react when he was rocked or when he was in a real dogfight. We know now. When Shane Mosley hurt him badly in the second round of their fight two years ago, Mayweather turned it around and dominated every minute of every subsequent round. When Cotto dragged him into the trenches Saturday night, Mayweather engaged him, firing off the ropes; and when it looked like the effectiveness of that technique was waning after Cotto's blistering eighth round, Floyd changed strategies completely and sailed away with the final third of the bout.
There are plenty of reasons that those fans who don't like Mayweather will find to support their position. But his skills and ability shouldn't be among them. We are watching a genuinely great boxer in his pomp. Whatever our feelings of him as a person, we should allow ourselves to enjoy and marvel at his talent.
2. Seriously, enough's enough. It's time
For all the talk of "that" fight, for all the yapping from both sides, the prospect of Floyd Mayweather fighting Manny Pacquiao has, in the buildup to Saturday's contest, rarely if ever seemed more remote. But now, more than ever, it has to happen. Cotto was the best of the rest and he has been summarily dispatched. Outside of, say, Sergio Martinez or perhaps, in the case of Pacquiao, a fourth meeting with Juan Manuel Marquez, there's nobody left. Assuming Pacquiao makes it past Timothy Bradley Jr. on June 9, Mayweather-Pacquiao has to be next. Even as he poured cold water on the prospect of the fight ever happening, Mayweather admitted that "there's really nobody else out there for me."
3. Miguel Cotto was sold short
Even among those who gave Cotto credit for his skill and experience, who offered the caveat that against almost any other likely opponent, he would be favored, the Puerto Rican star was given next to no chance. One person who didn't sell him short, at least publicly, was Mayweather, and as he stood at the postfight news conference with his face uncharacteristically marked up, it was clear why. Cotto fought with enough intelligence and persistence that, through eight rounds, the outcome of a Mayweather fight was genuinely in doubt. He fought an almost perfect game plan; it's just that on this night, against this man, it wasn't enough.
4. Canelo Alvarez is a work in progress
There was much to be impressed with in Alvarez's victory over Mosley: He was unruffled, he was steady, he didn't panic when an accidental head-butt opened up a cut over his left eye. He planted his feet and threw compact punches with plenty of torque that thudded off Mosley's head with real impact. At the same time, there are still some areas for improvement, as is to be expected from such a young fighter. Alvarez could stand to be more active, to throw more punches, to start earlier. When he threw combinations, they were beautifully effective; he just didn't throw them enough. A case could be made that, after almost folding Mosley in half with body shots in the ninth, Alvarez should have taken it up a notch and tried to finish him. But for all the doubts and incomplete grades, this fight also highlighted the talent that is there, and the reception from the crowd underlined the stardom that assuredly awaits Alvarez as long as the wins keep coming.
5. The ride is over for Shane Mosley
Whatever doubts had been raised about Mosley's commitment to battle after the disappointing performances against Pacquiao and Mayweather, the 40-year-old erased them with his determined effort to stand and trade with the younger, stronger Alvarez. But while he was not afraid to pull the trigger, Mosley's punches lacked the speed and snap that were his trademark when he was at his peak. He looked at times almost as if he were punching through treacle. It is often said that the last thing a fighter loses is his punch, but Mosley had nothing in his arsenal with which to deter his younger foe. As Mosley admitted, when the young kids start beating you, maybe it's time to turn to promoting. Mosley has had a terrific career. It's time for that career to end on the relative high note of making a defiant last stand.