Experts' picks: Mayweather-Cotto

Originally Published: May 4, 2012
By ESPN.com staff | ESPN

Although Miguel Cotto isn't the man fans wanted to see Floyd Mayweather Jr. in with on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, he's a more-than-credible foil. Cotto isn't Manny Pacquiao, but he will test Mayweather at junior middleweight -- a division above Floyd's comfort level, where he has fought just once in his career. And although most expect a Mayweather rout, or something thereabouts, Floyd always finds a way to make fight night fun. Throw in another step-up bout for 21-year-old Canelo Alvarez, himself a 154-pound champ, and perhaps the last hurrah for Shane Mosley, one of the very best of his era, and there's enough potential entertainment value here to make up for an undercard no one's writing home about. Below, our panel of ESPN.com boxing experts picks the winners of the main event and co-feature, then pinpoints the undercard fighter they believe has the chance to help himself more than any other on Saturday.

Dan Rafael's analysis

Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto: As much respect as I have for Cotto, I think Mayweather is on another level. I see this fight going in a similar manner to Mayweather's fight with Ricky Hatton: competitive early on, and Cotto will have his moments, but Mayweather will use his speed and faster hands to slowly break Cotto down before stopping him in about the 10th round. I think cuts could also be a problem for Cotto.

Canelo Alvarez-Shane Mosley: To me, this is a mismatch. Alvarez is being matched with a once-great fighter who is past his prime just to get that great name on his record. Alvarez is going to be a lot busier, and Mosley won't be able to respond. Maybe Mosley has a moment or two early, but Alvarez will win by either dominant decision, or maybe Mosley's corner throws in the towel late in the fight.

Wild card: Jessie Vargas is a young prospect being given huge opportunities by his mentor, Floyd Mayweather Jr. Vargas didn't look good in a shaky win on Mayweather's undercard in September. After that fight, he can go a long way toward re-establishing himself with a dominant win against Steve Forbes, a faded veteran but a guy who can still handle himself.

Kieran Mulvaney's analysis

Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto: Cotto has to impose himself on Mayweather and keep him against the ropes. At times, early on, he may do just that. But Mayweather's shell defense will prove impregnable, and Floyd will begin firing fast punches up the middle to back Cotto off. By the middle of the fight, he'll be doing that at will, and he'll wind up with a dominant decision or a late stoppage.

Canelo Alvarez-Shane Mosley: The Mosley of three years ago would dominate the Alvarez of today. And if Mosley has anything at all still in his gas tank, he can cause Alvarez some difficult moments. But I think Mosley's needle is on empty. He won't be able to resist Canelo's thumping body shots and will lose a lopsided decision.

Wild card: Jessie Vargas took his pay-per-view bow underneath Mayweather-Victor Ortiz and nearly blew it, escaping with a tight decision win. Against faded veteran Steve Forbes, a late replacement, he has a chance to dominate and shine, and should do so.

Michael Woods' analysis

Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto: It would be a massive upset, second only to Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson in the modern era, if Cotto toppled Mayweather. But I cannot fathom it happening. Floyd is an A-plus talent, and Cotto isn't. (Let's not make too much of his December win over Margarito, a badly faded athlete.) Floyd will lose a couple of rounds scouting Cotto and setting traps, but he'll win handily in the end. I'd say there's a 75 percent chance he stops the Puerto Rican champ.

Canelo Alvarez-Shane Mosley: Mosley says he's 100 percent healthy for this fight, and thus, won't look his age (40). Call me dubious. ... Shane has turned in three crap or semi-crap outings in a row. I don't see a return to form against Canelo, a bull of a boxer who may not be as flashy as a peak Mosley was but who will break down the former pound-for-pound star through attrition. A Mosley win would be only slightly less surprising than a Cotto win, in my opinion.

Wild card: It will be hard for welterweight Jessie Vargas to look like anything other than a stellar prospect, as the 22-year-old Las Vegan takes on 35-year-old Steve Forbes, who is a decade past his peak and has a 3-7 record in his past 10 bouts. This undercard might well surprise me, but on paper it's a stinkeroo and a backtrack from some recent PPV cards that have been built better, top to bottom.