Mayweather vs Cotto: Has Cotto Ever Been the Same Since Margarito Loss in 2008?

Martin SaltCorrespondent IFebruary 2, 2012

Taking such punishment must break the hardest of fighters at sometime...
Taking such punishment must break the hardest of fighters at sometime...Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Finally, after several months of trash talk and speculation, we have the first major fight of the summer confirmed between Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on May 5th.

And to be fair to Floyd he's picked a credible opponent. But is Cotto still in top prime shape?

Is he the same fighter since his first fearsome battle with Antonio Margarito in June 2008?

After picking up the WBO Light Welterweight title in 2004, Cotto became the main man in the division and became even more fearsome moving into the Welterweight division picking up the WBA title and reaching sixth in The Ring Magazine pound-for-pound rankings.

Victories over Paulie Malignaggi, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley showcased the talent of Cotto and super-fights with Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. were on the cards.

Then Cotto ran into the road block that was Antonio Margarito, whose gloves were quite possibly loaded.

Whether Margarito's gloves were loaded or not that night in June 2008, Cotto took one hell of a brutal beating. Cotto went into the fight as a two-to-one betting favorite and came out looking like a shadow of the fighter he was prior to the contest.

Cotto was easily able to claim the vacant WBO Welterweight Title against journeyman Michael Jennings in early 2009 before struggling to a split decision victory against the durable Joshua Clottey later in the year.

In November 2009, Cotto was awarded his super-fight against Manny Pacquiao. Unfortunately another beating took place, this one even more violent than the last.

It is obvious that a boxer can take only so many beatings before something breaks or they become slightly less than the confident article they once were.

Cotto was able to pick off TKO wins against Yuri Foreman and Ricardo Mayorga but has not looked like the superb force he once was.

The rematch against Antonio Margarito at the end of last year seemed to show that Cotto is nowhere near his fearsome best. Although Cotto won, much to my delight, he was tiring very quickly before the fight was stopped and it is questionable as to whether he would have been knocked down in the last two rounds.

Fighters such as Shane Mosley, Roy Jones Jr. and perhaps Jermain Taylor are good examples of fighters who have taken beatings in career-defining contests, only to return shell-shocked and missing that special something that made them a serious force. Mosley, Jones and Taylor are still credible fighters, but the fear factor in fighting them is now gone.

And that's what Floyd Mayweather has seen in Cotto for his next fight.

Cotto is still a high level operator who isn't washed up by any means. But he is not the threat he once was. And this is a shame considering that at the age of 31, Cotto should be in his ultimate prime.

If Mayweather had fought Cotto prior to his battering by Margarito in 2008, then the betting odds would be much closer for this fight, and Cotto would stand a good chance of inflicting Mayweather's first career defeat.

Cotto has proven in his recent fights that he can start strong, and as always if he can pressure Mayweather in the first few rounds he may stand a chance. If the fight goes on, the defensively impressive Mayweather will figure him out and a one-sided contest will occur.

For Miguel Cotto this fight has come at the wrong time.

For Floyd Mayweather this will be chance to add another impressive name to his list of conquests.