Trying to predict what will happen in boxing is like trying to figure out why naked reality shows are suddenly so popular. After weeks of speculation, Puerto Rican superstar Miguel Cotto finally announced his opponent for December: Nobody.
Just a few months after scoring one of the biggest victories of his career (crushing Sergio Martinez like an old can of Fanta last June and winning his fourth world title in the process), Cotto decided that being unable to spend a full camp with his trainer, Freddie Roach, was as good a reason as any for an extended vacation. Roach will be in the Philippines preparing Manny Pacquiao for his November 22 bout against a Long Island nutritionist named Chris Algieri. So Cotto will take off the rest of the year and return in 2015.
But return to fight whom?
At this point, all wayward signs point to Cotto meeting mercurial Mexican moneymaker Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, possibly in a blockbuster pay-per-view next May, but a crop circle might be easier to decipher than these hints. Because boxing is full of trial balloons, red herrings, and MacGuffins, most industry talk would fail a “fact or fiction” test 9 out of 10 times. Last April, for example, Juan Manuel Marquez and Mike Alvarado were supposedly fighting for the right to face Manny Pacquiao, but that never happened. Instead, Pacquiao is scheduled to face Algieri in Macao and Marquez has been twiddling his thumbs down in Mexico. Even Cotto has recently seen a guaranteed fight vanish mysteriously like a UFO out in Roswell. Supposedly, the WBC ordered Cotto to face Marco Antonio Rubio to unify their banana-split middleweight titles (See if you can get this straight: Cotto is the “Regular” WBC middleweight champion and Rubio is the “Interim” WBC champion), but Rubio is scheduled to be torpedoed by Gennady Golovkin in California on October 18.
There have also been a few rumors that Team Cotto was leery of meeting fringe contender Andy Lee at Madison Square Garden. It makes sense: Why risk a multi-million-dollar payday against a 6’1 southpaw with fairly heavy hands? Without a viable (read: safe) opponent to stir mass interest, Cotto, 39-4 with 32 knockouts, decided on some R & R … even if it is hurricane season in Puerto Rico. Whether or not this move will backfire remains to be seen, but the fact is Cotto has fought only twice in the last two years. By contrast, Alvarez has had three fights since September 2013 and is planning a fourth for December. Rigorous training camps are no less taxing when you are in your thirties and coming off of an extended layoff, and Cotto, 33, needs more ring rust the way President Obama needs another world crisis on his hands. In that case, Cotto may opt for a tune-up earlier in the year. That means Cotto and Alvarez would meet in late 2015 instead of in May, and boxing fans will be kidnapped by premium cable networks once again and forced to watch set-up fights intended to hype a future match they are already interested in. Then again, so many matchups are mentioned just for cheap publicity—or fall apart due to politics and scamboogery—that sometimes waiting for the opening bell, while idling on hammock with a cold Medalla in hand, maybe, is the only move that makes sense.
Carlos Acevedo is the editor of The Cruelest Sport and a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His work has appeared in Boxing Digest Magazine, Maxboxing, Boxing World Magazine, and Esquina Boxeo.