Floyd Mayweather Jr came through 12 bruising rounds to outpoint Miguel Cotto in their WBA super welterweight clash in Las Vegas on Saturday.
The unbeaten Mayweather (43-0) was put under immense pressure early on by a relentless Cotto (37-3), but weathered the storm and finished the stronger.
Two judges gave Mayweather a 117-111 decision, while another had it 118-110 for the American, who tipped his hat to the Puerto Rican.
“You’re a hell of a champion. You’re the toughest guy I ever fought,” he said. “You want to give the fans what they pay for and that’s excitement. It comes with the territory when you fight a future Hall of Famer like Miguel Cotto. I had to fight hard and suck it up. I dug down and fought him back.”
Mayweather began by landing stiff jabs and fast right hands, but Cotto motored relentlessly forward, bullying Mayweather to the ropes and battering his body with left hooks.
As the rounds progressed, Cotto’s constant pressure seemed to be taking its toll and after the sixth, Mayweather returned to his corner with a bloody nose.
In the eighth, Cotto pounded Mayweather against the ropes, but that would prove the high point for the champion as Mayweather changed strategy, employing more lateral movement and firing right hands from long range.
By the 12th, Cotto needed a stoppage to win, but it was Mayweather who closed in style, rattling his opponent with combinations that buckled Cotto’s knees and smiling as he evaded counterattacks.
Cotto said he could not have done anything more in the fight.
“The judges said I lost the fight. I can’t do anything else,” he said. “I have to take my defeat. He knows what kind of fight Miguel Cotto brings, and so do the fans. I’m happy with my fight and with my performance and so is my family. I can’t ask for anything else.”