By Ron Borges
LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been raised to fight.
Whether he is in a boxing ring, as he will be tomorrow night, or in his parent’s home when they all lived in chaos back in Grand Rapids, Mich., that is what he knows. It seems as if it’s all he’s ever known.
Not surprisingly, Mayweather has become quite proficient at it. Had he not, he wouldn’t be here today. Certainly not in a Las Vegas mansion, where he lives surrounded by his fiancee, his children, his jewelry, his cars, his betting slips, his hangers-on and, occasionally, his peace of mind.
Tomorrow at the MGM Grand, Mayweather will be at peace because he’ll be at war. He’ll be where he’s most comfortable, in a boxing ring challenging WBA junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, working hard to convince him he won’t do what his 42 predecessors could not.
Mayweather is considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world because he is a gifted blend of hand and foot speed, ring intellect, fast twitch muscles, stamina and a fistic GPS system that has made him one of the most accurate punchers in boxing as well as one of the most elusive.
Cotto, on the other hand, is a resolute man who holds the 154-pound title by dint of grit. He is neither particularly fast nor overwhelmingly quick. He is not a power puncher nor is he a slick boxer. He is simply a fighter who has enough of each of those traits to win world titles, as he’s done in three weight classes.
What he is not, however, is his problem — and probably Mayweather’s salvation.
“I can’t say what he do bad or good,” the undefeated (42-0, 26 KO) Mayweather said yesterday. “He’s done things right enough to get this far, but (hitting Mayweather) looks easier on the outside.
“He’s not that fast. People talk about him losing to (Antonio) Margarito because (Margarito) had loaded gloves. But why was he getting hit by those gloves?
“If he wants to pressure me, I embrace pressure . . . if there is any pressure. Whoever they put in front of me, I beat.”
No one can argue otherwise. Although many believe Mayweather has artfully and not accidentally avoided Manny Pacquiao for nearly three years, not even his harshest critics can argue that any of his first 42 opponents were particularly taxing.
Mayweather has been pressured by some — including Emanuel Augustus and Jose Luis Castillo — and hit solidly by a few like DeMarcus Corley and Shane Mosley, but no one has pressured him into collapse or hit him solidly twice in succession. As yet, no one has forced him into the kind of fight the world loves and he hates.
“I never really had a knockdown, drag-out fight,” Mayweather said. “Most of the time, I make it look easy. I’m a guy who really doesn’t believe in taking no punishment. I believe in dishing it out. I don’t want to be praised for being in a war.
“I work on my skills day in and day out (to avoid those kinds of nights). I study the sport of boxing. I put in the hours. I am mentally ready. I am physically ready. . . . My skills are at a different level than any other fighter. Skills pay the bills.”
Mayweather clearly has a lot of bills, including one that not even money can pay. On June 1, he must turn himself in to the Clark County jail, where he will begin serving an 82-day sentence after pleading guilty to one count of domestic violence and no contest to two harassment charges resulting from an incident involving his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his three children.
Mayweather allegedly went to her house to give $200 to his daughter, who had lost a tooth. By the time the night was over, Mayweather had been charged with threatening to kill Josie Harris, throwing her to the ground and threatening to beat two of his sons if they called the police. Whatever the truth of those charges, Mayweather now faces the consequences of both his acts and his upbringing in what it would be kind to call a dysfunctional family.
Photo by AP
READY FOR BATTLE: Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left) and Miguel Cotto pose Wednesday in Las Vegas in advance of tomorrow’s super welterwight title bout.
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