But there are two boxers who drive the public interest and betting needle more than any other nowadays: Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
Depending on whom you ask, either Mayweather or Pacquiao is the pound-for-pound king of the sport. Unfortunately the two can’t seem to get into the ring for what would likely be the richest bout in boxing history. But at least both will be fighting in the next month or so, beginning Saturday night in Las Vegas when Mayweather puts his unbeaten mark on the line against the dangerous Miguel Cotto.
Mayweather, who made the popular HBO show 24/7 what it was with his brash, cocky demeanor, is a seven-time world champion in five different weight classes. He is moving up to 154 pounds to battle Cotto for his WBA junior-middleweight belt. Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs) has had one previous fight in the 154-pound division, which was when he outpointed Oscar De La Hoya to win a belt in May 2007.
“Money” last fought Sept. 18, also in his hometown of Las Vegas, beating Victor Ortiz after a controversial fourth-round knockout to win Ortiz’s WBC welterweight belt. That was Mayweather’s first fight in 16 months and he looked dominant for the first three rounds. In the fourth, Ortiz head-butted Mayweather. The referee immediately called time and deducted a point from Ortiz. Then while Ortiz was seemingly awaiting to re-start the fight, Mayweather landed a flush right hand to an unsuspecting Ortiz’s face and it was over.
Mayweather had booked the MGM Grand for this Saturday months ago and there was hope it would finally lead to a Pacquiao showdown, but once again negotiations fell through. So instead Mayweather chose Cotto, a Puerto Rican who has a passionate fan base and certainly is one of the top five or six fighters in the world. Mayweather tweeted after the announcement, “I’m fighting Miguel Cotto on May 5th because Miss Pac Man is ducking me.”
Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs) will be making his third title defense. He highlighted both his power and durability in his most recent outing, a 10-round stoppage against Antonio Margarito. That was vindication for a loss to Margarito in 2008. Cotto’s only other loss was a pounding by Pacquiao in 2009.
Most experts believe that while Cotto has the punching power to put Mayweather on the canvas, Mayweather is too quick and expert defensively and Cotto won’t be able to land many power punches.
Mayweather is currently the -700 favorite at Bovada with Cotto at +450. The over/under for rounds in the bout is 9.5. Only one of Mayweather’s past seven fights has ended under 9.5 rounds — that Ortiz beating. Cotto’s last fight under 9.5 rounds was when he took the title by beating Yuri Foreman via ninth-round TKO in June 2010.
The line originally opened with Mayweather -800 and Cotto +500, but all of the early action on Cotto moved the line to where it is now. At -750 and then -700, the public has been all over Mayweather since the move off of -800.