While a billion eyes will be trained on Mayweather v McGregor in Las Vegas this Saturday night, there is an actual world title fight featuring one of boxing’s biggest and best names taking place at the same time, 300 miles down the desert highway in Carson, LA.
Puerto Rico’s four-division world champion Hall of Famer deserves better than to be shunted to a side stage this weekend, but for hardcore boxing fans Miguel Cotto’s clash with Yoshihiro Kamegai is a far more mouthwatering prospect than Mayweather v McGregor.
The vacant WBO super welterweight belt is on the line, and with two natural warriors going toe to toe, it certainly won’t be a snooze-fest.
Having announced he will walk away from the sport at the end of 2017, this is Cotto’s second last fight. With a plan to bow out in style at world title level next December, the pressure is on for the 36-year-old to follow his own script this weekend.
He’s bound to be a little rusty.
Cotto has been out of the ring for almost two years since being defeated on points by Canelo Alvarez in a WBC world middleweight title clash.
The scorecards did him an injustice that night, for he boxed well against a great young champion, but no one really knows how well he’s trained under Freddie Roach’s guidance for this comeback bout.
On paper Cotto (40-5, 33 KO’s) is by far the better fighter.
A proven puncher at elite level, with a stunning left hook, he should have too much skill and quality to lose to his less distinguished Japanese opponent.
Kamegai, 34, is known as an awkward, rough-around-the-edges brawler, but with 24 KO’s from 27 victories (27-3-2) his punching power does have to be respected.
His reach is also a whopping 10cm longer than Cotto’s, who stands at least two inches shorter than the 7/2 under dog.
So finding his way inside Kamegai’s jab will be the first port of call for the Puerto Rican legend in Carson City.
In a rematch with the durable Mexican, Jesus Soto Karass, (after a thrilling draw previously) the rangy Japanese fighter switched up his style to become more of a counter-puncher, stopping his man in impressive fashion.
Proving he had another string to his bow, it has given food for thought for those who doubted Kamegai’s credibility at this level.
Cotto’s conditioning will be a key ingredient. If he hasn’t prepared well enough for a 12-round war, then there’s a chance he could come unstuck.
Personally, with so much resting on this clash, I still believe Cotto will systematically break his man down, possibly forcing a stoppage late on in the fight.
Kamegai is more tough than talented, and with Cotto back down at super welterweight (he wasn’t as effective at middleweight) the Puerto Rican should exert his superiority the longer the fight goes in.
We don’t yet know if Cotto will get the happy ending his career deserves – that may depend on who he chooses as his last opponent – but to set up a grandstand finish, he needs to swot Kamegai aside on Saturday night.
And after several grueling rounds, I am convinced he will.
Cotto v Kamegai Predictions & Odds
Cotto to win between Rounds 7-12: 3/1
More Boxing Odds
Nathan Cleverly v Jack Badou: Cleverly to win 3/1
Gervonta Davis v Francisco Fonseca: Fonseca to win 10/1