The Miguel Cotto Sweepstakes: Who Will Be Next to Face The Puerto Rican Superstar?

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Photo: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Two months after making history by becoming the only Puerto Rican fighter to win titles in four different weight classes, Miguel Cotto announced that he will return to the ring on December 13 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Cotto, 39-4 with 32 knockouts, is looking to defend the middleweight championship he won by demolishing Sergio Martinez in 10 one-sided rounds. Although an opponent has not been selected, there are plenty of pros whose names have been thrown into the mix recently. Here is a quick odds chart on some of the fighters eyeing Cotto—and the enormous payday he represents.


After obliterating Daniel Geale in Madison Square Garden on July 26, Golovkin, with a smile, called out Cotto from center ring. He might as well have been shouting from aboard the International Space Station. When Sergio Martinez was middleweight champion—and making regal speeches every chance he got—he wanted nothing to do with Golovkin. It looks like Cotto may also keep “GGG” at a safe distance. At 33, Cotto is not looking to face a man who should bring a dustpan into the ring with him every time he fights: to sweep up the remnants of his opponents. Indeed, Golovkin looked like he was at his destructive zenith against Geale, a competent professional with wins over Roman Karmazin, Felix Sturm, and Anthony Mundine. Although Golovkin, 30-0 with 27 knockouts, has raised his profile exponentially over the last two years, ratings for his fight against Geale on HBO were disappointing. In the end, this lack of star power is what Cotto will likely use as a barrier against facing Golovkin. In fact, less than two weeks ago, Gabriel Peñagarícano, who advises Cotto, said this to El Vocero: “Although he is a great champion, Golovkin is not a pay-per-view figure at the moment.” Translation: without the financial stakes necessary to take such an enormous risk, Cotto will look elsewhere for a playdate. ODDS: 25-1


Not long after Cotto annihilated Martinez, promoter Bob Arum mentioned former 2-division champion Tim Bradley as a possible opponent for the Puerto Rican superstar in a catchweight bout. Most likely Arum was using Bradley as a bait-and-switch special: by publically dangling a middling name, it makes anybody else sound good by comparison. Last April, Bradley, 30-1 with 12 knockouts and one No Contest, dropped a ragged decision to Manny Pacquiao in a bout most considered a pay-per-view washout. Not only is Bradley coming off of a loss, but, as a feather-fisted welterweight, he would suffer a complete power outage anywhere above 150 pounds. Never particularly popular with the aficion—except in the immediate aftermath of his rousing brawl against Ruslan Provodnikov—Bradley would guarantee serious backlash, especially considereing the difference in weight. ODDS: 12-1


Barring any significant misfortune, a fight between “Canelo” and Cotto is as close to a lock as anything is in boxing. Unique fight-racket politics would have kept this fight from happening only a few months ago, but the possibility of Cotto and Alvarez clashing is now a near-reality. December, however, may be unworkable for all parties involved here. Alvarez, coming off a narrow points win over Erislandy Lara last June, also announced plans to fight in December, possibly against James Kirkland. If that scenario takes place, then a Canelo-Cotto showdown will likely happen next spring. As two of the biggest box office draws in North America, Alvarez and Cotto are natural adversaries, and when they meet, cash registers will be overheating … along with the emotions of millions of Puerto Ricans and Mexicans. ODDS: 8-1


The veteran powerpuncher from Durango, Mexico, has been biding his time for another crack at a big payday. On a six-fight winning streak since dropping a fairly competitive decision to Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., in 2012, Rubio has already made some noise about fighting Cotto. As the WBC “Interim” middleweight champion (log on to MUFON for a definition), Rubio is supposedly the mandatory challenger to Cotto. You can forgive Rubio if he seems a little skeptical about that designation. In boxing, rules and regulations are often set aside in favor of dollar signs, and being a “mandatory challenger” is worth about as much as a promise from a used car salesman. But a fight with Rubio, 59-6-1 with 51 knockouts, would bring the Mexican market into the mix and would allow Cotto to clear his slate of an obligatory albeit flexible title defense. ODDS: 4-1


Given the fact that he is Irish, has fought in New York City four times (on the Cotto-Martinez undercard at Madison Square Garden, no less), and has been on HBO before, it looks like Lee is the perfect victim, err, candidate, to face Cotto in December. Except for a few wins over fringe types (Brian Vera, Craig McEwan), Lee has a resume as bare as a cupboard in Bodie, California. Lee bottomed out in 2012 when Julio Cesar Chavez. Jr., ran through him like Grand Torino crashing into a lemonade stand at full throttle. Since losing to Chavez in San Antonio, Lee has rebuilt himself fighting an array of scarecrows and piñatas. A 6 ‘2” southpaw with good power, Lee, 33-2 with 23 knockouts, is a full cut below Cotto in class. Even so, Lee will have significant physical advantages against Cotto, who is fighting above his best weight. At least, that will be the sales pitch for months of prefight hype if Lee gets the fight. ODDS: 2-1

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.