The immediate aftermath of any boxing fight is always a bit strange. Guys who were attempting to kill each other for more than half an hour instantly become venerated competitors, and the fog of politics and fame that clouds the sport descends once more after lifting for moments. The wake of Floyd Mayweather's unanimous decision victory over Miguel Cotto is no different: answers are scarce, but questions are not. Here are five questions the casual boxing fan might be wondering about this morning, and the best answers we've got.
What did Mayweather prove against Cotto?
Few people gave Cotto a chance to do much damage against the defensive wizard, despite his exceptional punch accuracy, and although he took a few rounds from Mayweather and made him bleed his own blood, Cotto really was never in position to win the fight. Mayweather didn't deal Cotto any blows of consequence, either, never knocking him down and showing only a bit of power while fighting up at a weight he's unused to, but he got a win and gave fans a fight that was worth their time and money.
Speaking of, that was a really good fight, right?
Absolutely. Mayweather's no stranger to fights going the distance, and is still boxing's biggest draw and most controversial figure, but our Brent Brookhouse, one of the Internet's most dedicated boxing fans, expressed his relief that he didn't have to make excuses for the sport after another lackluster fight involving Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. Cotto came to fight, and made hay when he got inside and cut off Mayweather's room to run, but that opened him up to Floyd's own shots; similarly, Cotto making Mayweather bleed is about as close as anyone has come to really rocking him in years, but all it did was force the champ to stay on his toes. He did, with defense that's as much a treat to watch as ever, and got a result that will leave diehard and casual fight fans happy.
Now what? Is that Mayweather-Pacquiao fight ever happening?
Well, first, Floyd Mayweather is going to the ol' hoosegow, serving a 90-day jail sentence this summer for domestic assault. But after that, Mayweather says he wants to fight Manny Pacquiao, and to make the megafight that has been anticipated for years. Mayweather's got very few other logical challengers, and Pacquiao has even fewer, so the prestige boost for either man, should he win that hypothetical bout, makes it a Holy Grail for them as much as the fans who lick their lips over the possibility.
But Mayweather is also explicitly saying that he doesn't think that fight will happen. He's also saying ridiculous things about how he offered Pacquiao $40 million and was turned down by a guy who wants a 50-50 split, and blaming Bob Arum, and answering questions from Larry Merchant about whether he will ever come off his desired 60-40 split by talking about blood tests. It's hard not to wonder if all the posturing is just posturing. All we know for certain is that fans will still snap up Mayweather-Pacquiao PPV packages if and when it comes into existence; both men and their teams know it, too, and that gives them a lot of leeway.
So, uh, what was that Justin Bieber cameo about?
Mayweather walked to the ring with Bieber and 50 Cent carrying his belts, and then WWE star Triple H joined him near the ring. After the fight, Mayweather took this photograph with Bieber, 50, and Lil Wayne.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Whether that quartet is going to form the 2012 edition of The Firm is beside the point, though, because Mayweather did what he intended to do by bringing Bieber out: he got people talking, and leveraged Bieber's popularity to expand his own — think of how many 15-year-olds, and not just girls, might have learned about Floyd Mayweather because of Justin Bieber and a Twitter trending topic last night. As for Bieber, the benefits of joining the "Money Team" are obvious in every bizarre picture and the video of the walkout: for a night, in close proximity to the baddest boxer in the world, everyone thought Justin Bieber was kinda cool.
Was this a good night for boxing as a sport, then?
Yeah, probably. Mayweather's camp got a win that reaffirmed their champ's superiority and an eight-figure windfall; HBO likely got around two million PPV buys despite Golden Boy Promotions charging $70 for the fight, failing to provide an online stream, and sending thousands of viewers scurrying to illegal online options; Cotto got his own millions, and burnished his "warrior" rep; Pacquiao, somewhere, probably got another confirmation that he can touch up Mayweather and didn't lose his status as Floyd's eventual challenger; boxing bigwigs can take pride in knowing that their main draw thumped the UFC on FOX event convincingly, despite that card turning out three excellent fights in four bouts; fans both diehard and casual got a good fight.
The problem for boxing, though, is that it can always have good nights, and must-see nights, as long as Mayweather and Pacquiao are around, but those guys will not be around forever and may not ever meet in that megafight. Two good nights a year are not enough to sustain the sport. Saturday night didn't do a lot to eliminate that concern, and boxing's stuck hoping that Mayweather-Pacquiao can happen and hoping that there will be something else after that or in place of it. Hope is good, but this seems more like a puncher's chance than anything.
Got any other questions? Got answers for me? I'll be hanging out in the comments, and I'd love to hear them.