I have never struggled so much to come up with a preview-type article for a fight, and I've done plenty of them.
I've done fights where I was genuinely excited. Both of the Vazquez-Marquez fights, Barrera-Marquez, Taylor-Pavlik, Cotto-Judah, Miranda-Pavlik, several others. I've done fights where I've tried to hype up the chances of someone I thought had no shot in hell -- Ray Austin against Wladimir Klitschko, Jorge Solis against Manny Pacquiao. Those fights where even the underdog's own mother would put a dime on the other guy.
I've done fights where I, frankly, do not give a shit who wins. The two recent IBF heavyweight eliminators spring to mind immediately, and the surprisingly entertaining Forrest-Baldomir fight.
And, yet, this Saturday's welterweight title bout between Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley is currently befuddling me. I am genuinely excited. I think a winner is decidedly tough to pick. On paper, it's a potential Fight of the Year. It's a red-hot rising superstar against a potential Hall of Famer who can still fight, and whom I would put in the ring, prime versus prime, against anyone in the weight class, ever.
And I can't think of the first damn thing to say to try to hype this fight up.
Part of that, though, is that this is a fight that doesn't need hype. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know Sugar Shane Mosley. The only guy to ever beat Oscar de la Hoya twice, a three-division champion who could've made it four had he felt like making a pit stop at 140, now back in his premium weight class. He has lost four times in his career, twice each to defensive master Winky Wright (and Mosley still deserves credit for fighting Winky in the first place, because no one else wanted to) and Vernon Forrest, who was simply Shane's kryptonite.
And then you have Miguel Cotto. If you don't know Miguel Cotto, it's not hard to find several glowing articles about the 27-year old, undefeated Puerto Rican champion. He is a rugged, fearless, stone cold fighter. Miguel Cotto is a bruiser. He doesn't have one-punch power, but he attacks. And attacks. And attacks. And attacks. He does not relent. He has been in memorable battles with Ricardo Torres, Paulie Malignaggi, and Zab Judah, battering them all.
The problem is, Mosley and Cotto are nothing more than what's on the surface. They're gentlemen outside the ring, and great fighters inside of it. They'll have a great fight. The loser won't complain after it's over. Nothing much will come out of this in the way of juicy antics. We've already seen their press conferences -- two men, smiling, praising their opponent and promising a great fight.
Nothing wrong with that. But it sure can be boring.
How Mosley can win: Speed and power, baby. Nothin' much more to it than that. Mosley has to avoid Cotto's bullying, and stick and move. Stay out of the younger man's wheelhouse, avoid his punishing body work as best he can, and just outbox the brawler. If Sugar Shane hasn't lost any steps (which is no guarantee), honestly, he is going to be very tough for Cotto to beat. As Jim Lampley put it, beating Zab Judah was good. Beating Shane Mosley would be great.
How Cotto can win: Corner Mosley and keep him in one place as often as possible. Beat the body up, as Cotto always does. As good as Miguel Cotto is, I have to consider him the underdog. Like Calzaghe-Kessler, I've changed my mind a couple of times, but I just don't see Cotto being able to slow Mosley down enough to score enough points to win a decision, and if he can't slow him down, he can't knock him out, either.
If this is the Shane Mosley we've always known, Miguel Cotto doesn't have the tools to beat him. Cotto is tailor-made for that Shane Mosley. The only thing stopping a Mosley win, I think, is that every fighter gets old sometime. At 36, you can't count that out.
We'll have continuous coverage of Cotto-Mosley all week, as well as a look at the very strong undercard featuring lightweight champion Joel Casamayor and former welterweight titleholder Antonio Margarito.