Originally written on The Queensbury Rules  |  Last updated 9/2/14
Manny_pacquiao_v_576f

(image via)

There have been times when Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Miguel Cotto would have set my heart ablaze. May 5, 2012 is not one of those times; Cotto is now past his prime, and Cotto isn't Manny Pacquiao, THE opponent that Mayweather he should have been fighting for the past two-plus years but hasn't. Yet Mayweather is set to fight Cotto on May 5 in Las Vegas, Mayweather and his promoter Golden Boy announced Wednesday, and it's not such a horrible fight that it doesn't kick up a few stray embers in my chest.

One of the many problems with being Floyd Mayweather, Jr. -- alongside the upcoming jail sentence, the intense hatred he engenders with a lot of boxing fans, etc. -- is that when you persistently reject every dangerous-seeming opponent mentioned for you as being unworthy, it becomes head-scratching when you finally get around to fighting one of those people when they're less worthy than at other times they've been mentioned as possible opponents. Just the other week, Mayweather said he wasn't interested in Cotto because Pacquiao already beat him up, making Cotto Pacquiao's "leftovers." And every other year where people have wanted Mayweather to face Cotto, Mayweather has had some other reason why Cotto wasn't worthy, like thinking Cotto is no damn good or that he didn't bring enough money to the table. Now Cotto is still Pacquiao's "leftovers" and every boxing fan will tell you that Cotto is in decline -- some will say steeply so, others a bit more slowly heading downward.

But Cotto does have a few things going for him as an opponent for Mayweather in 2012, as opposed to 2005 (when both men were considered two of the top junior welterweights) or, really, any time prior to Cotto's 2008 loss to Antonio Margarito at welterweight. One thing going for Mayweather-Cotto is that Cotto is, if in decline, still arguably world-class: I have him listed as the 16th best fighter in the world, of any weight, and Ring Magazine ranks him the world's best junior middleweight. Another is that Mayweather is moving up a division to junior middleweight to face Cotto, and while Cotto is no massive junior middleweight -- he's shorter, with less reach, than Mayweather -- he's also a stocky, tank-like fellow who should have a strength advantage at 154 pounds. Another: Cotto's style, one of intelligent pressure with good-if-not-great speed and power, at least theoretically poses a threat to Mayweather, based on past fights where Mayweather has struggled against that type of opponent, even if it's more theory than reality at this point. And, perhaps most importantly for Mayweather, Cotto is among the most popular fighters in the United States; while there are light years between Mayweather and Pacquiao and the rest of the field as pay-per-view attractions, Cotto is definitely in third place, and he has a habit of selling out facilities in New York City, where he draws Puerto Rican fans in droves, so Mayweather's side surely hopes the Cinco De Mayo weekend + Cotto angle somehow fires up Latin types. (Another angle to sell the fight: Mayweather usually plays the villain and Cotto the "good guy," even though some fans will tell you Cotto is a dirty fighter prone to low blows and such, but the black hat/white hat thing is a proven Mayweather marketing tool for his bouts.)

Take all those things. Set aside the fact that Cotto isn't Pacquiao. If you can do that and accept the idea that Mayweather has shown his own signs of decline -- he's 34 to Cotto's 31 -- and if you buy into the notion that Cotto looked refreshed after his rematch victory over Margarito in December, what with a new trainer who helped Cotto find his old self, then maybe you'll see this fight as really worthwhile.

Those are conditions I find hard to buy or accept in sufficient quantities to make this a fight that truly excites me. Mayweather is a bit less fleet of foot these days than he used to be, but he's still an exceptional athlete who has enough brains to make up for any loss of movement. He is a gifted marksman, and Cotto's lack of defense makes him one of boxing's most hittable elite fighters. Cotto hasn't shown major power at 154 pounds, like the kind he used to carry at lighter weights, so Cotto knocking out Mayweather doesn't seem likely -- and Cotto outboxing Mayweather to a decision win sounds even more far-fetched. Cotto did indeed look refreshed against Margarito in their rematch, but part of that had to do with Margarito being even more in decline than Cotto at this point in their careers, so it's plausible if not likely that Cotto's apparent revival was a mirage. And while Mayweather has occasionally struggled against the kind of intelligent pressure Cotto can offer, you have to go back to 2002 and Jose Luis Castillo to find a time when struggles against intelligent pressure translated into such difficulties that Mayweather stood a chance of actually losing.

Outside of Pacquiao, though, I was bound to be disappointed by virtually anyone Mayweather chose. The one exception might have been if Mayweather fought middleweight champion Sergio Martinez at 154 pounds or higher, because then we'd be talking about a particularly interesting and potentially competitive match-up. Among available options, there were worse ones than Cotto, like a very green Saul Alvarez, a very small Robert Guerrero or just about anybody else, really.

It's just that I wish I would have gotten Mayweather-Cotto when I wanted it, not years later. And, especially, it's that I'm sick of saying this about everyone Mayweather and Pacquiao fights these days: "Could've been someone better."
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Gronkowski not worried about 'Bieber Curse': 'On to San Diego'

Texans place Jadeveon Clowney on injured reserve list

Nebraska hires Mike Riley as new football coach

Michael Vick doesn’t view being benched as being benched

Report: Jay Gruden has issues with RG3 on and off field

Buster Olney will abstain from Hall of Fame voting

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Charles Barkley weighs in on Eric Garner’s death

Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata suspended four games

Bernard Pollard: "I’m a nudist"

Mavs coach receives technical foul intended for Mark Cuban

Torii Hunter calls reporter a 'prick' during press conference

Report: Jon Lester drawing serious interest from Dodgers

Kobe Bryant, Rajon Rondo had breakfast together in Boston?

10 best available 2015 MLB non-tenders

10 candidates to replace Mike Riley at Oregon State

WATCH: Arian Foster speaks to media in British accent

Jim McElwain hired as Florida Gators football coach

NFL MVP Race: J.J. Watt or Aaron Rodgers?

WATCH: Ed Reed asks if hanging with Bieber could hurt Patriots

Ranking the NFL’s remaining nationally televised games

The great un-busting of Mark Sanchez

WATCH: 3-year-old, one-handed boy golfs with Tiger Woods

Where will Jim Harbaugh coach next season?

Increased police presence planned for 49ers-Raiders game

Boxing News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Gronk not worried about 'Bieber Curse'

10 best available MLB non-tenders

10 candidates to replace Mike Riley at Oregon State

Gruden has off-field issues with RG3?

NFL's top nationally televised games left

The great un-busting of Mark Sanchez

WATCH: One-handed boy golfs with Tiger

Mavs coach T'd up for Cuban?

Torii Hunter rips reporter at presser

Where will Harbaugh coach next?

Is Newton developing into a bust?

Smith disagrees with Barkley's views

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.