Now that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have agreed to face each other on May 2nd, and Saul Alvarez has signed on to fight James Kirkland the following weekend, WBC lineal middleweight champ Miguel Cotto 39-4 (32) is out in the cold, left with the worst possible opponent option—cough, Golovkin, cough– imaginable.
Or is he?
Last June Cotto stopped Sergio Martinez 51-3-2 (28) in 10 rounds to win the WBC middleweight title. Martinez was the lineal middleweight champ being that he beat the man who beat the man etc…..going back to Bernard Hopkins. The win over Martinez elevated Cotto, 34, and that is a monumental feat considering Cotto was probably at his best during his tenure as the junior welterweight title holder.
If you remember, before Cotto finally agreed to fight Martinez, he was going back and forth between meeting Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 44-1-1 (31) and Martinez. Ultimately the fight with Martinez was made and in hindsight it can be said with impunity that Miguel made the right decision, as he usually does. Because by the time Cotto got into the ring with Martinez, Sergio was a recovering often-injured fighter on the decline. Cotto earned a lot of capital beating Martinez due to fighters the likes of Alvarez, Mayweather and Gennady Golovkin all wanting to eventually own Cotto’s title. After the Martinez fight Miguel was sitting in a great position and held most of the leverage.
Eventually negotiations began between the factions representing both Cotto and Alvarez. The plan was for the biggest Mexican and Puerto Rican star fighters in boxing to meet on May 2, which is Cinco De Mayo. And that would’ve been a huge fight on that date. However, Cotto overplayed his hand, or so it seemed at the time, and almost over-night a fan friendly, legitimate title bout dissolved. And that left May 2 open for Mayweather-Pacquiao to be finalized.
Shortly after Cotto beat Martinez it was said in this space that Cotto’s best options were to defend his lineal middleweight title against a) Floyd Mayweather or b) Canelo Alvarez if he couldn’t get Mayweather. And the reason for that was, Mayweather or Alvarez versus Cotto is an automatic PPV attraction, and Miguel is fighting mostly for financial security now. Being the first Puerto Rican fighter to win a world title in four different weight divisions has solidified his legacy. On top of that, everyone, including Cotto, knows that he’s really not a middleweight. So fighting welterweight/junior middleweight Mayweather or Alvarez, who is still a junior middleweight (although one day Alvarez will probably be a super middleweight), made sense because Cotto wouldn’t have been dwarfed by either of them physically.
Then the bottom fell out when Mayweather and Pacquiao finally came to terms and stole his date. A few days later Alvarez decided to play hardball and agreed to meet the hard punching James Kirkland 32-1 (28) the following weekend. And if that weren’t enough, the best middleweight and title belt holder in the division took apart the very tough and willing Martin Murray this past weekend. And guess who he asked to meet next after the fight? Yep, Golovkin 32-0 (29) wants all the middleweight hardware and in the most gentlemanly way possible challenged Cotto to meet him in a unification bout. And if you’re Cotto, you’ll say that you’re more than willing to meet Golovkin, but that’s as far as you go because you have no intention of getting brutalized on HBO and blowing the opportunity of parlaying your win over Martinez.
At this time there are rumors swirling via Cotto’s promoter Bob Arum suggesting that Miguel may fight one of the following, Timothy Bradley, Brandon Rios or Cornelius Bundrage. Notice that Golovkin wasn’t mentioned nor will he be. And if by chance Cotto agrees to meet any one of the three mentioned he’ll be making a big mistake and blowing the cachet he gained from beating Martinez. Nobody wants to see Cotto fight, even on premium cable, Bradley, who could stink out the place and might out-box him, or Rios or Bundrage. No, there are only three fighters who boxing fans want to see Cotto touch gloves with, Golovkin, Mayweather and Alvarez.
Right now it looks like Cotto may be shamed into fighting Golovkin, and there’s no way he wants that. There’s not a lot of money involved and his chances of losing in an embarrassing fashion are very good. Miguel doesn’t have tool-one to beat Gennady with, why get annihilated for peanuts compared to fighting Mayweather or Alvarez via PPV?
It looks like Cotto is left out in the cold, or he’ll have to to fight Golovkin, which might be hell for him in the ring. On the other hand, if he can somehow manage to keep the WBC title until after Mayweather beats Pacquiao, and he will, then he can fight Floyd and he’ll look like a genius for not agreeing to fight Alvarez. Even in the worst case scenario, say the WBC strips Cotto of the title, who cares, as he’s still the man who beat the man. What would be better than after Mayweather beats Pacquiao then winning a title in a sixth division against the smallest fighter in it, who owns the lineage to the middleweight title going back to Bob Fitzsimmons, Stanley Ketchel, Harry Greb, Sugar Ray Robinson, Carlos Monzon, Marvin Hagler and Bernard Hopkins?
Is Cotto out in the cold and on the verge of being forced into meeting Golovkin? Perhaps. But it just may be in his best interest not to fight again until after Mayweather and Pacquiao settle their six year old score. All he has to do is sit ringside and goad Mayweather after the fight. Floyd will no doubt brush it off and proclaim he doesn’t need Cotto. However, behind the scenes he’ll be telling his hired guns to get me Cotto, I want that middleweight belt for my sixth division title.
Yes, don’t be surprised if Cotto doesn’t announce a major fight until after Mayweather-Pacquiao.
Because after beating Pacquiao, what’s left for Mayweather? And that sixth title would be sweet icing on a ceremonial cake for Floyd to go out with and Miguel will make a fortune providing him the opportunity.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com