Miguel Cotto hasn’t even stepped into the ring against Floyd Mayweather, and he’s already finished as the runner up. The two fighters will face off on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in a bout being hyped as “Ring Kings.”
It’s no secret that Cotto, the WBA Super Light Middleweight champion, was not Mayweather’s first choice. Back in January, the undefeated fighter lobbied for a bout with Manny Pacquiao, calling out the Filipino boxer/congressman on Twitter and through the media. Those efforts proved futile. Cotto was the next best option.
Cotto (37-2) is a quality fighter whose career might have taken a different path had it not been for the brutal and controversial beating he suffered at the hands of Antonio Margarito in 2008. The Puerto Rican fighter exacted his revenge in December, defeating Margarito by TKO in the 10th round.
But unlike Mayweather with his perfect 42-0 record, Cotto is not legendary. He’s someone who Mayweather can’t afford to lose to. That’s not the same as someone Mayweather has to beat. As a result –even with the help of HBO’s promotional 24/7 documentary series– there has been an undeniable lack of excitement surrounding this bout.
Diehard boxing fans will buy the fight because diehard boxing fans buy pretty much every fight. But for the casual fan, the demographic whose pay-per-view buys huge paydays depend on, has grown weary. What’s the point in plunking down $50 or so to watch a fight where no one gives the other fighter a chance? As far as public opinion, it’s unanimous that Mayweather will emerge the winner.
In reality, every Mayweather and Pacquiao bout has simply become about the fighters and their respective camps trying to convince the world that “this guy” (whoever it happens to be) truly stands a chance, even when the odds and the experts say otherwise.
The problem is people don’t really believe that anymore. After all, one of the more memorable fight night moments involving Mayweather in years came not during his recent fight against Victor Ortiz, but from a verbal altercation with commentator Larry Merchant immediately afterward. Such theatrics might make for social media fodder, but do little to advance the sport.
If –and it’s a huge if– Cotto pulls off the upset of the decade and ends Mayweather’s undefeated run, then the conversation surrounding significance of this fight will certainly take a turn come Sunday morning. But we’ve witnessed enough of these Mayweather/Pacquiao sideshows to know that’s unlikely to be the case.
Maria Burns Ortiz is a freelance sports journalist, chair of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' Sports Task Force, and a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. Follow her on Twitter: @BurnsOrtiz