NEW YORK – Miguel Cotto, the WBA welterweight champion, is 30-0 with 25 knockouts but faces the most grave challenge to his perfect record on Saturday when he meets Shane Mosley at Madison Square Garden. Here is what each man must do to win:
Keys to victory
1. Chin down: Cotto is such a strong offensive fighter, and he attacks with abandon, often exposing his chin. If he does, Mosley will make him pay dearly, and one mistake could end the fight.
1. Vary the pace: Cotto is best when he gets into a rhythm. Mosley's plan should include a way to make Cotto fight when he wants to rest and to slow the fight when Cotto is looking to attack.
2. Close the distance: Mosley's fast hands will lead him to get the better of exchanges from a distance. Cotto needs to get inside to a point where Mosley's hand speed is neutralized.
2. Overhand right.: As Cotto bores in, he's vulnerable to Mosley's fast, chopping overhand right.
3. Double jab:. The best way to neutralize speed and quickness is by working a consistent jab.
3. Up and down.: Cotto is not a great defender to begin with and will be more vulnerable if Mosley makes him defend a larger area.
4. Counter quickly: Mosley occasionally will swing and miss badly and leave himself out of position and vulnerable. Cotto must be vigilant and pounce on such openings.
4. Show off his hand speed: Mosley's hands are so much faster that he might be able to steal a round with a couple of quick-handed flurries.
Rating the fighters
Comparison of Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley on a rating of 1 to 10 in several key categories:
Cotto's power primarily is to the body.
Cotto has spent long hours in the gym working on his jab.
This is Cotto's strength.
Speed and quickness
Mosley has the quickest hands and feet Cotto has faced.
Though it will be an offensive fight, defense will be pivotal.
Cotto has looked vulnerable at times; can he take Mosley's best shot?
Both can go 12 rounds all out.
Mosley knows all the tricks.
Cotto cutman Miguel Diaz could play a big role in the corner.
Cotto will have a huge advantage in the Garden and the confidence of knowing he's unbeaten.
As much as Mosley has experienced in his career, he never has faced anyone as relentless as Cotto. Take Cotto by decision by the slimmest of margins.