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Miguel Cotto believes he's ready to beat Floyd Mayweather Jr.

BOXING

Cotto, who has lost only two fights, faces Mayweather on Saturday in Las Vegas. He thinks 'this is the right moment' for him to deal Mayweather his first defeat.

May 03, 2012|By Lance Pugmire
  • Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and Miguel Cotto pose for photographs during a news conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday to promote their Saturday fight. Cotto has won his last three bouts.
Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and Miguel Cotto pose for photographs during… (John Gurzinski / AFP/Getty…)

LAS VEGAS — The antidote to Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s brash methods of remaining unbeaten might be stored away in a champion who doesn't talk very much.

Miguel Cotto, Mayweather's Saturday night opponent in a World Boxing Assn. super-welterweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena, has lost to only two men.

The first was Antonio Margarito, who one fight later had plaster-caked inserts confiscated from inside his hand wraps.

Fifteen months later, Cotto, after basically training himself, lost to Manny Pacquiao by 12th-round technical knockout.

And two months after that, Cotto's beloved father, Miguel Sr., unexpectedly died at 54.

"His dad, that was the most painful feeling of all," said Bryan Perez, Cotto's close friend. "But his father taught him to grow through pain, be himself and strong through adversity.

"[Cotto] wants to honor what his dad taught him."

Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs) has rallied from the setbacks with three consecutive victories, including a 10th-round TKO of Margarito in their December rematch in New York.

On Thursday, Cotto spent the afternoon conducting some television interviews in a near whisper while glancing at crews inside the MGM arena fitting in the last of 16,000-plus seats that will be filled for his battle with Mayweather.

Cotto was asked where he draws his courage and resilience from. He answered, "I live in a way that no matter what things happen in my life, I'm going to do my best."

It's an attitude that could serve Cotto, an 8-to-1 underdog, well when he engages in the chess match that is a bout with Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs).

"I like the fact that he's so calm, cool and collected," fight promoter Oscar De La Hoya said. "Everyone who fights Mayweather — myself included — gets frustrated by how he is. His talking. Being so slippery in the ring.

"The trick is to stay calm, cool, collected, and that's who Miguel Cotto is. He sticks to his guns."

Cotto is a converted southpaw who could very well follow the lead of De La Hoya, another former left-hander, who scored well with his jab in losing a split-decision to Mayweather in 2007.

"He goes to the body well, he's a good counterpuncher," Mayweather said of Cotto. "He's done all the things it takes to get to this level."

Cotto, a former Puerto Rican amateur, turned pro at 20 and became a star as a dynamic puncher who'd often win fights by hammering his opponent with body blows. He became a world champion in 2004, and rose to become the most popular fighter at Madison Square Garden, beating the likes of Paulie Malignaggi, Zab Judah and Shane Mosley there.

"He's a dedicated fighter, a good person, and we felt he was always primed to be in big fights," Cotto's former promoter Bob Arum said. "Nothing but a joy to promote.

"The only problem is he's been fighting for a while. That starts to wear on you. That's the concern."

Stamina issues surfaced in Cotto's losses to Margarito and Pacquiao in 2008 and 2009. That was also the period when he had split from his uncle/trainer Evangelista Cotto and was working with an inexperienced cornerman for the Pacquiao bout.

Those close to Cotto said he literally trained himself before hiring former Cuban amateur coach Pedro Diaz for the Margarito rematch. Diaz praises Cotto's ring wisdom and stresses conditioning, expected to be a key factor Saturday.

"I'm going to be able to work hard the whole way, 12 hard rounds," Cotto said. "I feel prepared. If nobody has found a way to beat Floyd Mayweather yet, you're going to see the way Saturday.

"We're prepared with more than one plan. I'm going to use all the tools in my bag."

In late 2007, after Cotto had beaten Mosley and Mayweather had knocked out Ricky Hatton, the Mayweather camp said they weren't interested in fighting Cotto next because he lacked enough name recognition. Cotto was at his peak.

Now, after enduring the hardness of his sport and life, Cotto will collect $8 million for this bout.

"There's a lot of courage in him," Cotto's friend Perez said, "to go forward no matter what."

Said Cotto: "If this fight had happened before [beating Margarito] Dec. 3, it might not have been the best moment. To come back from things, to regain that confidence in myself, the trust in myself … this is the right moment.

"Everything I had to make in my career, nobody gave to me. I learned things myself. I'm a hard worker. I'm here because of that. And I'm going to be like that all the way."

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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