Slick

It’s come to a point where there are few challengers for Floyd Mayweather Jr., who recently dispatched Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, and claimed his World Boxing Association junior-middleweight belt, and also added the vacant World Boxing Council 154-pound title.

The unanimous decision in front of a sold-out throng, proved that Manny Pacquiao is the only one capable of beating Mayweather.

Cotto was a worthy opponent, and continually backed Mayweather into the corner, only to see the 7-to-1 betting favorite unleash blinding rights and lefts.

It’s as if Mayweather delighted in the gauntlet set down by the Puerto Rican native.

In the second round, Cotto lifted Mayweather off the canvas in a “bear hug,’’ and later found Mayweather’s nose with a nifty left in the fifth round, which drew blood, but otherwise didn’t cause any real problem.

“Cotto is a future Hall of Famer,” said Mayweather, who pocketed $32 million, and raised his ring record to 43-0 with 26 knockouts. “He’s no pushover. I dug down and fought him back.”

Mayweather is a remarkable boxer, and likely the finest defensive wizard in this or any era. His hand speed and endurance are second to none, with the only exception being Pacquiao, who landed at L.A. International as the two combatants entered the ring.

And still Mayweather heaped additional praise on Cotto, whose only setbacks were handed him by Antonio Margarito, who was later found to have had loaded hand wraps, and the Pac-Man. “You’re a hell of a champion,’’ Mayweather said. “You’re the toughest guy I ever fought.”

Cotto has genuine respect for Mayweather. “The judges said I lost the fight,’’ he admitted. “I can’t do anything else. I brought my best tonight. I am happy with my fight and so is my family.”

Getting off quickly was important for Cotto (37-3-0 with 30 KO’s), and he did just that, but Mayweather, who landed 26 percent of his total punches, still won the opening round.

The same pattern developed in the second, and again it was Mayweather who took the round.

Cotto, who hit 21 percent of his total punches, had a good third round which was tight, and the fourth, which was equally close, but Mayweather, who found the range on 34 percent of his power shots compared to 23 percent for Cotto, took the round after pounding several rights.

Because of the way the bout progressed, scoring rounds was often difficult. In many, Cotto employed a sound body attack, but Mayweather would rally late.

It was evident that Mayweather’s hand speed and ability to slip punches would carry the night, and was best illustrated in the 12th round.

In it, Mayweather caught Cotto flat-footed, and landed several blows that snapped his head back.

The eighth was Cotto’s, and the early portion of the ninth was until Mayweather performed his magic. The final three rounds were more of the same.

Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at richsports5@sbcglobal.net.

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