Boxing: Some people suggest that sport is all about taking part. Your final position is irrelevant, they absurdly claim. Try convincing Floyd Mayweather of that!
At 35 and undefeated in 16 years spanning 42 contests, while bagging world titles from super-featherweight to light-middleweight, the irrepressible “Money” is in no mood to slow up or quieten down ahead of his WBA 154lb clash with champion Miguel Cotto tomorrow night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“I was born a winner and I’ll die a winner,” boasts the Michigan-born showman, who is due to serve a two-month jail term for domestic abuse.
Although on paper Puerto Rican Cotto (37-2) presents Mayweather with one of his sternest test to date there is still a longing for Mayweather to prove he is the undisputed pound-for-pound ruler by defeating Manny Pacquiao.
However Cotto is a huge pay-per-view attraction with only Mayweather and Pacquiao ahead in terms of drawing power and he also carries the advantage in natural power having begun his career at light-welterweight.
Cotto, like Mayweather, will be contesting his 20th world title bout and Mayweather has paid his rival the utmost respect by counting him as an undefeated fighter.
Much of that is down to the factors behind Cotto’s two stoppages losses to Antonio Margarito and Pacquiao.
In July 2008 Cotto was pummelled to defeat at the hands of Margarito, but the facial injuries suffered were not considered “normal.”
Margarito has since served a ban after Shane Mosley’s trainer Naazim Richardson found a pasty white substance — believed to be plaster of Paris — in his hand wraps before their duel in 2009 but Margarito still claims his innocence.
The 2009 Pacquiao reverse could largely be down to the catch-weight agreement which saw Cotto struggle to make the 145lb and completely nullify his superior strength.
Although Cotto has since recovered well, beating the over-matched Yuri Foreman, Ricardo Mayorga and avenging the Margarito nightmare, facing Mayweather is a completely different ball game.
Mayweather shows no signs of fading. His razor-sharp reflexes have been the key to much of his success with world champions and future hall-of-famers frustratingly made to look ordinary.
While his critics slam his outrageous boasts, lavish lifestyle and admittedly poor behaviour away from the ring, the admirers can equally marvel at his uncompromising dedication.
Boxers can be their own worst enemy with their ill-disciplined binging and ballooning between fights, deceiving themselves that a committed training camp will erase their periods of indulging but not Floyd.
He is rightly proud of his long-term sacrifice that has paid huge dividends.
“Who works harder than me?” he said in the build-up to this fight. “You tell me one elite athlete right now that’s been dominating the game for 16 years straight without a loss.”
Unsurprisingly Mayweather doesn’t just think he is 2012’s supreme pugilist but believes no one in the sport’s history surpasses him.
“Muhammad Ali was one hell of a fighter, but Floyd Mayweather is the best,” he boasts. “Because I am not getting up off the canvas eight times like Rocky with a busted eye, it doesn’t mean I am not the best fighter to go down in history.”
Come tomorrow night Cotto will be the latest in a long line who have tried and failed to find the formula to beat Mayweather.
It’s what Floyd describes as a difficult maths problem that no-one can solve.