Cotto’s Best Chance? Attack the Body!

By Kevin L. Johnston: Hardcore boxing fans and pundits alike all think they have the blueprint for finally defeating Floyd Mayweather, Jr. The truth is, all one can really do is speculate… so speculate, I will. But first, let’s take a quick trip down Memory Lane.

Once upon a time there was a vicious Puerto Rican body puncher who used to wing left and right hooks to his opponents’ midsections with such vigor, that even a corrective lens-less, astigmatic grandpa could see the grimace on his opponents’ faces in standard definition.. For whatever reason, this once-great body puncher has slowly gone away from his bread and butter in recent years. His name is Robert Paulson.

OK, OK, so his name is Miguel Cotto, and while he’s clearly still one of the best fighters on the planet, for some reason he seems to be going to the body less and less these days. Maybe it’s because after suffering two losses he is now more concerned with keeping his guard higher and tighter than he used to, which means opening up and letting his hands go less frequently. Regardless of why he has gone away from it in recent years, Cotto needs to dig deep and rekindle the magic that made fans’ jaws drop every time he went to the body if he’s going to have any chance against Floyd tonight.

But back to speculating on how to beat Money May. If ever Mayweather lost a fight, it was his first fight with Jose Luis Castillo back in April of 2002 (Side note: Floyd’s supposed split decision victory over Oscar De La Hoya in May of 2007 was a total sham. Floyd dominated that fight and it was an absolute disgrace that judge Tom Kaczmarek actually had De La Hoya winning.). Floyd had just moved up to lightweight from featherweight, and was perhaps tentative on fighting a bigger guy for the first time. Whatever the case, Castillo came into that fight with the best plan ever formulated for taking Mayweather out of his game.

Castillo continually cutoff the ring and trapped Floyd on the ropes while mixing in a solid barrage of body shots. Floyd was lucky to escape with a victory that night, but as Castillo would soon find out again, beating Floyd is easier said than done. Eight months later Castillo fought a rematch with Mayweather, only this time Money May did what all great fighters do, he made adjustments. Oddly enough, the judges’ scorecards were actually closer in the second fight although Mayweather clearly won the rematch. The first fight saw Floyd winning by a wider margin on the scorecards even though many ringside observers felt that Castillo got the better of Floyd that night.

The thing about Floyd’s shoulder roll, Philly shell… whatever you want to call it… is that it is very difficult to catch him square on the chin, or even anywhere on the head for that matter. He blocks opponents’ right hands with his left shoulder, and blocks their left hands with his right hand/arm which he keeps tucked under his chin, ready to counter at any moment. He also holds his left arm across his midsection to protect against anything to the body; however, this is probably where he is most susceptible.

Yes, Shane Mosley caught him with a nice shot up high early in his fight with Floyd, but the crowd definitely overreacted and seemed to think Floyd was more hurt than he actually was. Mosley didn’t exactly have much success trying to attack Floyd’s face for the final ten rounds of that fight. Since Cotto is one of the best body punchers in the business (or at least used to be up until about 2008), by far the most important punch for him tonight will be the left hook to the body.

I am officially making the “Mr. Obvious” pick tonight, Money May to win by decision, although I truly think Cotto can make the fight much closer than many people expect if he focuses on trapping Floyd against the ropes and using a sustained attack to the body. Cotto will find that snapping hard left hooks to the body is one of the few ways to slow down and neutralize Floyd and score points with the judges.

Floyd’s quickness and mastery of the shoulder roll is far too effective to try to hurt him up high early on. If Cotto goes back to his bread and butter, i.e. relentlessly attacking the body with savage hooks, then maybe, just maybe, he can open up Floyd’s guard a little bit and finally find his chin… or at least impress the judges enough to make things interesting on the scorecards tonight.

(Kevin L. Johnston is a freelance writer from Indianapolis. If you don’t have access to the PPV tonight, he will be live blogging the entire card at Come and follow all the action as it unfolds, and feel free to share your thoughts and comments in the live interactive blog as well.)

Article posted on 04.05.2012

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