Five keys for Miguel Cotto
Plotting a path to victory for Miguel Cotto against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
When the eyes of the boxing world are fixated on what potentially would be the biggest fight of all time -- a Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao showdown -- it's easy to forget that there are other megafights to be made. On Saturday, when Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs) will face Miguel Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs) for his junior middleweight title at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, we'll get one. When two future Hall of Famers climb into the ring together, it's a treat that shouldn't be taken for granted, and Cotto and Mayweather in particular are a good bet to produce as many or more fireworks as any other fights of this magnitude.
With both fighters having spent more than a decade at the top of their respective divisions, they are two of the most watched and scrutinized boxers of our era. Mayweather's strengths are his blazing speed and spot-on accuracy, while Cotto's ruggedness and great boxing technique make him a favorite among fans of all persuasions.
With the stage set, here are five keys to victory for Cotto on Saturday:
Press the issue
|Keeping the heat on Mayweather is a dangerous proposition because it involves the investment of large amounts of sweat, likely giving some blood, and usually leads to tears. But for the opponents in some of Mayweather's most complicated fights (Jose Luis Castillo and Oscar De La Hoya, for instance), the tactic has occasionally paid off. Cotto needs to unleash a steady stream of leather bound for Mayweather's head and body through the entire fight. He will miss more than half of his punches, but keeping Mayweather busy on the defense will give Cotto a solid foundation to build momentum and gain some control of the fight.|
Rhythm is gonna get ya
|The foundation of the Cuban school of boxing is built on fighters being in superb physical condition, and the presence of former Cuban national team coach Pedro Diaz in Cotto's corner is definitely a plus for this fight. Mayweather is probably the most gifted athlete in the sport today, and his discipline is unmatched. Keeping Mayweather's pace will be a challenge for Cotto's battle-battered body, but his newfound self-confidence (after his victory against Antonio Margarito) pushed him to go the extra mile in training camp, and the results appear to be fantastic. Cotto must capitalize on his conditioning to seize control of the pace of the fight and keep it hot.|
A hook to build a dream on
|Cotto's hook often is more easily felt than seen. His vaunted left hand has been a trusted friend throughout his career, and now he will face a fighter who, despite having mastered that same punch, isn't accustomed to being on the receiving end of it -- at least not with the kind of accuracy and power with which Cotto delivers it. As a converted southpaw, Cotto is precise and strong with his left hook, and Mayweather won't be expecting such a controlled output from that angle. So it's crucial that Cotto build his strategy based on the power and precision of his most treasured and effective weapon.|
The same token
|News flash: A left downstairs followed by a straight right upstairs is an attack that works great for Mayweather, but it also work against him. Mayweather is known for using a strong jab to the midsection to make his opponents drop their guard, then following up with a powerful straight right to the head. But when Shane Mosley turned that tactic against him in the second round of their 2010 fight, Mayweather found himself in as much trouble as he has ever been in, holding on for dear life and barely able to make it through the round. Cotto has enough chin left to attempt this feat without fearing a deadly counterpunch as a response, and if he can make it work for him the payoff could be huge.|
Do the crab dance
|Mayweather's most recent four opponents were more flat-footed than is typical. They prioritized forward movement, without using much lateral movement, and incorporated even less backward movement. Cotto has a superb and unique way of walking the ring and being an aggressor in retreat, backing up and making his opponent miss, only to plant himself on his strongest foot whenever he feels ready and launching a hard combination while his foe is still charging forward. Repeating this recipe against Mayweather will be a tall order, but trying won't cost him too much when compared to the reward he could reap if he's successful.|
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.
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