The Sport of Boxing is a typically tempestuous arena where every fighter, no matter their standing, is only ever one defeat away from disaster. Two consecutive losses however, is perceived by the boxing public to be a full blown crisis, a fact Miguel Cotto will attest to.
The Puerto Rican, despite being a former 3 weight World Champion and one of the best loved fighters in the game, faced a barrage of hysterical criticism from all corners of the boxing world after he was beaten by ‘unknown’ Austin Trout on December 2012.
Austin Trout wasn’t a household name. So he must have been a nobody, right? Wrong. He was a legitimate world class challenger, the victor in all 25 of his professional fights. Still, it didn’t matter. Nor did it matter that a mere 7 months prior to his meeting with Trout, Cotto gave the great Floyd Mayweather Jnr one of the most ever competitive fights of his unblemished career. Cotto was finished. A man, many commented, who was finally paying the price of one punishing punch up too many in a career spent mixing it with the elite from the 140-154lb divisions.
Sadly, we live in a society that seems to build someone up to be successful simply so we can laugh in the face of their failure when they fall from grace.
As I’ve become more of a ‘hardcore’ fan, I’ve discovered that the boxing public has a particular fondness for the fatalistic.
But the same fickle cynics who reached the consensus that a 32 year old, Miguel Cotto was a washed up has-been who grew old overnight after his defeat to Austin Trout have now once again shown their capriciousness by declaring that he will now conquer the world after his savage 3rd round stoppage of perennial contender, Delvin Rodriguez. If Cotto is to once again tread the path of greatness, he will doubtlessly have to overcome far more formidable opponents along the way than the 33 year old, Dominican Republican, with 7 career losses on his 38 fight resume.
But after such a comprehensive and confidence inducing comeback performance, expect the rejuvenated Cotto to now be especially emboldened and eager to get back to the business end of boxing against the top fighters from 154-160lb.
His form, massive fan base and the fact that he is not tied exclusively to any promotional entity means that he is in the enviable -some would say perfect- position to pursue any opponent he sees fit. He is also a massive attraction to any fighter looking to claim a major scalp and enhance their own reputation, whilst making a tonne of money for their troubles.
A rematch for Mayweather’s titles at 154lb will definitely be on his radar. So too will a fight with Mexican sensation Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. However, I think that Golden Boy Promotions, at least in the immediate future, will approach a Cotto contest with tentative trepidation- they will not want risk Canelo losing two consecutive fights and suffering the same hysteria that befell his Puerto Rican counterpart. Expect them to protect their investment and ease him in gently after his disheartening defeat to Floyd Mayweather. Still, I think this is a fight that should come to fruition, just not for another 12-18months.
Addressing Larry Merchant in his immediate post fight interview, Cotto expressed his desire to try and make history and become the 1st Puerto Rican boxer to win world titles in 4 different weight classes. The logical choice at that weight would be Sergio Martinez as the fight would generate a similar number as the 1.25 and 1 million P-P-V buys his bouts with other Box Office stars, Manny Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather did. Both those fights ended in defeats, but I think Cotto could conceivably claim Martinez’ title and cement his legacy as a future Hall of Famer in becoming the most decorated boxer in his homelands rich fighting history and tradition. The aging and injury prone Martinez has his own future and legacy to think about. Hence, the opportunity for a multi-million pound payday against one of the sport’s most eminent fighters of the last decade could prove irresistible to the 40 year old Argentine.
Whether he won or lost any potential bout with Martinez, I doubt it would have much impact on his chances of securing a fight with any titleholder in the light middleweight division. This is why I would pick the prospect of a pulsating prizefight with fans favourite Martinez early next year, followed by another epic with fellow hall of fame foe, the great Floyd Mayweather Jnr or Canelo this time next year.
Boxing has been a particularly cruel and fickle mistress to Miguel the last year. But we should all know by now that Cotto is the Captain of a ship that refuses to sink. It is this resilience that has seen him once again gain control and cruise his way back into contention for some of the biggest Championship fights the sport has to offer.
I hope the cynics are feeling suitably sea-sick