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De La Hoya: Was losing a winning recipe for Cotto?

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has won more fights, earned more titles and gained more notoriety than his Saturday night foe in Las Vegas - soft-spoken Puerto Rican import Miguel Cotto.

But there's one ring feat Cotto's successfully handled - twice - that "Money" has never had to.

Losing.

And to hear Oscar De La Hoya tell it, that may actually be an advantage at the MGM Grand.

"Cotto was very smart in reinventing himself," said De La Hoya, referring to the defending 154-pound champion's welterweight losses to Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao in 2008 and 2009. "He changed up his corner. He changed up his strategy. He became more of a technician instead of a brawler and a face- first, in-your-face type of fighter. He was able to do it very smart."

Cotto rebounded from the Margarito loss to regain a belt at 147, which he surrendered to Pacquiao 16 months later in a 145-pound catch-weight event.

He then moved to a new division, won its WBA title from Yuri Foreman at Yankee Stadium and has since defended it twice - including a vengeance-fueled rematch TKO of Margarito in December.

Mayweather, meanwhile, has never lost and only rarely been pushed in winning 42 times as a pro since 1996, leaving many to opine that the 0 in his record is his most-cherished possession.

He's fought above 147 just once - weighing-in at 150 against De La Hoya in May 2007 when he won a WBC super welterweight title belt that he never defended.

"If he gets a loss, it'll be very devastating to his career and to himself mentally," De La Hoya said.

"Being unbeaten means the world to him. Mayweather's in a position where he has his fan base where they love him and they want to watch him win, but he also has this fan base that wants to see him lose, and when they see him lose then it's over for Mayweather. That's their mentality.

"I think that Mayweather is talented enough to change up his game plan if he does lose."

De La Hoya dropped a split decision when the two met, and remains the only fighter to ever win more than five rounds against Mayweather on any judge's card.

He wavered on the path his former foe and occasional business partner's career will ultimately take - initially claiming it's inevitable that he'll lose, then allowing for the idea it might never happen.

"Every fighter loses. That's just a given," he said. "The best of the best lost. Muhammad Ali had many losses and he's considered the greatest fighter on the planet.

"Mayweather is a tremendous talent. All my respect is to him because it's not easy to stay undefeated in this game when you're facing guys like Miguel Cotto, myself, Sugar Shane Mosley. He's done a great job, but eventually it has to go. There's no doubt about that.

"But who knows? Maybe he'll never lose. Maybe we're watching the greatest fighter that ever lived from our era here. You never know. This sport can throw you a curveball. I know that first-hand. Maybe we're watching a Floyd Mayweather who's reached his peak, or maybe we're watching a Floyd Mayweather who hasn't even begun."

The challenger is a big favorite among bettors entering the weekend according to World Sports Exchange (wsex.com), which requires a $650 wager in Mayweather to net a $100 return. Contrarily, a $100 outlay on Cotto would yield $450 in winnings.

The over/under consensus also leans heavily against a quick ending, with $240 needed to bring back $100 if the fight goes past the midway point of round 10. A wager of $100 would result in a $190 payout if the fight ends decisively - by KO, TKO or disqualification - before that point.

The televised portion of the Cotto-Mayweather card - which includes Mosley's challenge of Saul Alvarez - begins at 9 p.m. ET and will be carried live by HBO Pay-Per-View.

Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz.