The current estimated jackpot for the Powerball jackpot this past week was $37.5 million dollars, a truly life changing amount of money. It's also an amount of money that is well below what Floyd "Money" Mayweather will take home from tonight's HBO pay-per-view bout against Miguel Cotto. As we reported yesterday, Floyd will be taking home a cool thirty-two million dollars as his guaranteed purse, but that's before taking home a slice of every PPV buy, t-shirt, hot dog, beer...etc.
It's tempting for the logical side of one's brain to kick in and ask if that's too much money for one man to make off a single night's work. Of course, it's unfair to Floyd (or any boxer) to ignore the work that comes before that "single night of work." The paydays he gets now, as the best fighter on the planet, are a culmination of a life's work. A brilliant amateur career that should have culminated with an Olympic gold medal (robbed from Floyd by awful judges) came on the back of a hellish youth for Mayweather. Floyd was raised in the worst part of Grand Rapids, Michigan, dedicating himself even harder to his craft as his father landed in jail for selling drugs.
Every moment of Floyd's life and career has led him to the point he'll be at tonight, undefeated at 42-0 and the best boxer on the planet. The only American fighter capable of creating the buzz and attention for a boxing fight, $32 million may be an underpayment for his importance to the sport in it's current state. To treat it as though Floyd will show up in the ring after lounging on his couch since his bizarre clash with the unhinged Victor Ortiz is to ignore everything that makes Floyd, Floyd.
At 35-years-old, Mayweather isn't quite as fleet of foot as he once was but remains as dedicated to his training as ever. He has traded footwork for increased shoulder-rolls and an improved willingness to stand (still nearly impossible to hit clearly) in front of his foe, picking the perfect spot to unleash his straight right hand. Floyd utilizes that weapon the way a 14 year-old abuses a broken, unstoppable play on the latest edition of the Madden franchise. His opponents know the punch will come, they prepare for it, but it happens and it lands with such speed as to leave his foe unable to respond with a return shot.
The unstoppable simplicity of his offense (Floyd doesn't really dabble in elaborate combinations) combined with the brilliant subtle complexities of his defense set him apart from not only his contemporaries, but practically every human being to ever set foot in a boxing ring. Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo (twice), Zab Judah, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez and Shane Mosley are just some of the elite names to have stepped in the ring with Floyd only to end up another number on Mayweather's record.
Standing across from Floyd, looking to avoid becoming "43," is Miguel Cotto. The latest in a long line of great Puerto Rican fighters, Cotto has a resume that would be looked at as fairly incredible against any other opponent. Winning titles at junior welterweight, welterweight and now sitting alone atop the junior middleweight division, Cotto has been one of the most successful boxers of his era. The holder of a 37-2 record, one of his losses is questionable at best, a crushing TKO loss to Antonio Margarito who was discovered to be loading his gloves against Shane Mosley and the other was to a once-in-a-lifetime type of fighter in Manny Pacquiao, at a catchweight.
The conditions of Cotto's losses have had Mayweather repeatedly say during the build up to their "Ring Kings" clash that he considers Cotto to actually be undefeated. Weather that is simply a way for Floyd to minimize the accomplishments of Pacquiao, a rival Floyd could, but likely will never, fight or simply fight hype is irrelevant. Cotto's resume is worthy of admiration.
Despite a personality that is far more "everyman" than Floyd's "Superman," Cotto's success and likeability have turned him into the biggest star in boxing not named Pacquiao or Mayweather.
The actual tale of the fight is simple. Mayweather is a better fighter. This is true because Mayweather is amazing, not because Cotto is not a worthy challenger. Cotto, for all his talent will enter the ring as a +450 to +550 underdog, based on the cold logic of the emotionless Vegas bookies.
The 2007 version of Cotto would have likely given Floyd fits, still possessing the solid power that left him in his move up to 154 along with a bit more quickness and dedication to body work. The 2012 version is a bit slower and past his prime in a different way than Mayweather. He still has enough power to hurt Floyd, but his game will make it hard for him to get that job done.
Short of jumping in a time machine and going back to those younger days, it's hard to figure out a way for Cotto to pull off the win. Maybe he can rough Floyd up, maybe he can manage to hurt him early and keep him from ever truly recovering. Or, maybe Floyd just shows up as the better man and wins the fight based on the most simple truth in boxing...the better fighter almost always wins.
Prediction: As I've been saying, Floyd is better than Miguel. Both men are hall-of-fame fighters, both are a bit removed from their best years but Floyd remains a brilliant talent and the best boxer in the world, while Cotto is "only" good enough to be the best man in a division.
I don't think Floyd does enough damage to get the stoppage over Miguel, but I do think he plain outworks him enough to take at least nine rounds.
The fan in me will be rooting for Miguel, he's such a good man and a great boxer that it would make for a beautiful story if his hand were the one raised when it's all said and done. While boxing isn't "dying" it'd certainly be nice if Cotto were seen as "the man" representing the sport instead of Mayweather, who will head to do jail time for domestic violence following the fight.
The role of the boxing underdog is to deny what others accept as "reality," and I have no doubts Cotto will give it his best effort to do just that. But Floyd will simply be too good.