Everything you need to know about this weekend's big fight.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left) returns to the ring against Miguel Cotto on Saturday night in Las Vegas. (AP)
Five-division champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. is fighting WBA super welterweight champion Miguel Cotto on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (9 p.m. ET, HBO PPV, $59.95).
The 35-year-old Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs), currently ranked No. 1 in SI.com's pound-for-pound ratings, is considered one of the greatest fighters of our time. He is fighting at 154 pounds for the second time in his career, and the first since outpointing Oscar De La Hoya five years ago this week. The 31-year-old Cotto (37-2, 32 K0s), a Puerto Rican icon who has made a combined 13 defenses of his 140-, 147- and 154-pound titles, is widely regarded as a future Hall of Famer -- but enters Saturday's fight as an overwhelming underdog.
In addition to HBO's pay-per-view telecast, the fight is being shown in HD at nearly 400 movie theaters across the United States.
With seven world titles in five divisions, ranging from junior lightweight to super welterweight, Mayweather is one of the most accomplished boxers of his generation. He's coming off a controversial fourth-round knockout of Victor Ortiz in September, a victory that elevated his record to 42-0 with 26 knockouts. It's that pristine ledger that helps drive his unparalleled box-office appeal: Mayweather has generated 8.1 million buys in his eight pay-per-view fights, representing $446 million in revenue.
A champion at junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight, Cotto is three years younger than Mayweather but with far more mileage on the odometer, due primarily to a busier fighting schedule and a more action-friendly style. He was an undefeated 147-pound champion and 2-to-1 favorite when he first met Antonio Margarito in July 2008. But after outboxing the Mexican challenger early, Cotto was overwhelmed by Margarito's pressure in the later rounds. The legitmacy of Margarito's victory was thrown into doubt when he was caught with loaded gloves before his following fight with Shane Mosley; yet for Cotto the damage had been done. He suffered a second loss to Manny Pacquiao in 2009, and has rebuilt admirably since, winning a super welterweight title from Yuri Foreman and defending it in fights with Ricardo Mayorga and last December's grudge match with Margarito.
*Exact weights to be announced at Friday's official weigh-in (6 p.m. ET, SI.com)
Mayweather has seldom been in trouble in any fight, dominating all comers throughout a decorated 16-year professional career.
Already a Puerto Rican icon, Cotto has won titles at light welterweight, welterweight and super welterweight in his 11-year pro career.
It's difficult to pick against Mayweather in any fight that can be made today, not just because he's undefeated, but because he's seldom been in trouble in any of his pro outings. When Floyd tucks his chin behind his shoulder, he becomes difficult if not impossible to hit twice -- if you're lucky enough to tag him once. Speed kills, and Mayweather's punches are simply faster, particularly the left jab. If he feels like he's in a dangerous situation, Mayweather is content to eschew risk and box his way to an effective (if boring) points victory.
Cotto likes to box and move, a tactic that paid dividends against plodders like Margarito and Mayorga, but it could be a fatal strategy against an opponent as skilled and elusive as Mayweather. If he can swarm Mayweather and press his natural size advantage with disciplined body work, Cotto could make this a more interesting night than the bookmakers have suggested -- but it's easy to envision Floyd's pinpoint counterpunching thwarting that strategy. In short, this is the most difficult fight of Cotto's career, and he'll need to capitalize on whatever mistakes Mayweather offers up in order to have a chance at the upset.
Oddsmaker William Hill lists Mayweather as a 1-to-7 favorite, while Cotto is a 9-to-2 underdog.
Mayweather wouldn't have demanded eight-ounce gloves for this fight if he thought Cotto had enough left to make him pay for it. That said, Cotto is bigger and stronger and appears as motivated for the task as ever. He should be able to apply pressure early and make for some uncomfortable moments -- not unlike Shane Mosley in the second round of their 2010 fight and Victor Ortiz before he saw red last September. But look for Floyd's technical superiority and unparalleled conditioning to make the difference from the middle rounds on, as he controls the pace and style, ultimately picking the champion apart with counter punches upstairs until the referee intervenes. Mayweather by late-round stoppage.
Mayweather has a laugh with friend and confidant 50 Cent during a training session last week. (AP)
The Tweet Beat
Join the conversation about Mayweather-Cotto on Twitter. Track the hashtag #MayweatherCotto to see who's tweeting what about Saturday's fight.
· Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Shane Mosley, 12 rounds, for Alvarez's WBC junior middleweight title
· Jessie Vargas vs. Steve Forbes, 10 rounds, welterweights
· Carlos Quintana vs. Deandre Latimore, 10 rounds, junior middleweights
· Non-PPV bouts (available via free stream on SI.com): Jeffrey Fontanez vs. Rocco Espinoza, 4 rounds, lightweights; Omar Figueroa vs. Robbie Cannon, 8 rounds, lightweights; Keith Thurman vs. Brandon Hoskins, 8 rounds, welterweights; Antonio Orozco vs. Dillet Frederick, 8 rounds, welterweights; Braulio Santos vs. Juan Sandoval, 6 rounds, featherweights
· HBO's Jim Lampley, Emanuel Steward, Max Kellerman and Harold Lederman will be ringside for the main event and undercard.
· The referee assigned to the main event is Tony Weeks. The judges are Nevada veterans Robert Hoyle, Dave Moretti and Patricia Morse Jarman.
· The fourth and final episode of 24/7 Mayweather/Cotto debuts Friday (9 p.m. ET/PT, HBO). If you missed the first three installments, they're airing back-to-back starting at 7:30. The series is also available on HBO On Demand.
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