Mayweather overcomes stiff test from Cotto

It was not the shocking site Floyd Mayweather's legions of haters would have like to have seen, him flat on his back, Miguel Cotto standing over him center ring at the MGM Grand on Saturday night, but nevertheless, the site of blood trickling out of Mayweather's nose was a slight shock to fight fans used to seeing "Money" do his thing without being pushed too hard.

Cotto landed a snappy jab and had Floyd seeing red in the fourth, but he wasn't able to exact much more than minor damage on the still-unbeaten pugilist over the course of 12 tight rounds. Using the game's cagiest defense, and a switch 'em up strategy of working his back to the ropes, and in center ring, Mayweather sweated out a unanimous decision win, via scores of 117-111, 117-111, 118-110, over the Puerto Rican Cotto, who gave a more than solid account of himself.

No, the outcome was never truly in doubt, but this being boxing, with instances of blind or incompetent judging popping up on a weekly basis, you didn't know until Michael Buffer read the scores that Mayweather, a Michigan-born Las Vegas resident, had risen to 43-0, while Cotto, who dropped his WBA 154 pound championship, slipped to 37-3.

There were no knockdowns in the fight and no funny business during, or after, as in Mayweather's last scrap, against Victor Ortiz. Then, Mayweather ended things in the fourth round with a vicious one-two off a break, and then almost got into a brawl with 80-year-old Larry Merchant of HBO after he took issue with Merchant's post-fight queries.

After the Cotto win, Mayweather chatted with Merchant, who explained to viewers that Floyd had apologized to him the day before. Their back and forth was cordial, with Merchant asking if Mayweather would fight rival Manny Pacquiao next, and Mayweather, ever the cagy defender, blaming ex-promoter Bob Arum -- Manny's promoter -- for blocking the bout, and then bringing up the blood-testing issue. Pacquiao has a lawsuit pending against Mayweather, who regularly implies that Pacquiao used PEDs, for defaming him.

The cynical will note that Floyd is on his best behavior because he begins a three-month jail stint, for a fight with his ex, on June 1 in Las Vegas. He hopped down and put his arms around HBO's Jim Lampley and Emanuel Steward after he talked to Merchant, and proclaimed the virtues of HBO, an intermittent nemesis, to the heavens.

Perhaps, the same cynics will note, his good mood comes with the knowledge that he can luxuriate in his $32 million guaranteed purse, as well as another $13 or so million from pay-per-view proceeds.