Miguel Cotto may have cemented his legacy as the best Puerto Rican boxer of all time after dismantling Sergio Martinez in June, but he’ll have to keep fighting and continue winning if he wants to stay atop the competitive middleweight division.
The 33-year-old Cotto reinvigorated his career and put himself back in the forefront of major PPV fight discussions with his dominant win over Martinez, however there are quite a few budding stars and proven veterans looking for their shot at Cotto’s crown.
Cotto, now a world title holder in four different divisions, has the title of top dog at 160 pounds, but numerous challengers are scratching at his heels, namely Gennady Golovkin, who is widely considered the best in the division despite not officially holding the belt.
At Cotto’s age, he will have to select his next opponent wisely, especially if he wants to remain in the Mayweather sweepstakes. Regardless, Cotto proved he’s still one of the best fighters in the game and that success will likely continue in his direction as long as he’s paired with trainer Freddie Roach, who has led Cotto to a perfect 2-0 start since joining forces with the Puerto Rican.
Cotto will return to the ring December 13 at Madison Square Garden. Here is a look at his top 4 potential next opponents.
1. Andy Lee
This potential fight began to pick up steam after ESPN boxing guru Dan Rafael reported it as a possibility.
Lee was originally supposed to fight Golovkin in April, but the fight was canceled after Golovkin’s father died.
Lee has been looking for a big-name opponent ever since, and Cotto could obviously fit that bill.
After the disappointing PPV numbers from Cotto-Martinez, it is likely that Cotto’s promoter Bob Arum from Top Rank could push for the fight to be on just HBO instead of HBO PPV.
A fight with Lee would be perfect for that scenario. It’s a crowd pleaser, it’s not too dangerous for Cotto (but still competitive) and doesn’t need to be on PPV.
Lee (33-2, 23 KOs) has won 5 fights in a row and could give Cotto a run for his money.
While this isn’t the fight that boxing fans want, it’s simply more realistic than Cotto fighting GGG or Canelo Alvarez.
2. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Although Carl Froch said he’d retire if he didn’t land a fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who knows if that is actually true or just an empty threat?
For purposes of this article, a Cotto-JCC matchup should be entertained.
JCC looked strong and much better conditioned in a second straight victory over Bryan Vera in March, and appears to be ready for his next fight.
The 28-year-old former middleweight champion from Mexico looks revitalized after his loss to Sergio Martinez two years ago, and would like a chance at Cotto’s crown.
This fight could happen given all the best options don’t appear to be realistic right now, and this would be a great draw in terms of the Hispanic crowd.
3. Timothy Bradley
Timothy Bradley has been pretty quiet since his humbling unanimous decision defeat to Manny Pacquiao back in April.
After adamantly stating that he won the controversial first fight against Pacquiao despite the heavy disagreement from seemingly everybody else who watched the fight, Bradley took his beating in the rematch like a man.
Now, Bradley will have to decide where he wants to direct his career after suffering his first ever loss.
Bradley has some notable victories under his belt, namely Pacquiao (albeit controversial) and Juan Manuel Marquez, but could use a big-time win over a champion- in his prime- like Cotto.
Desert Storm would have to up his weight after spending his last four fights in the welterweight division, but this would be a very competitive fight against two of the top fighters in the sport currently.
Bradley’s trainer Joel Diaz mentioned Cotto was a possibility, but not much has been said by Top Rank.
4. Canelo Alvarez
Outside of Mayweather-Pacquiao, this is the biggest potential fight in all of boxing. It would be a monster PPV hit, feature two of the biggest fan bases in Mexico and Puerto Rico and would either pass the torch for one fighter or put an exclamation point to a storied career for the other.
This fight has been rumored for some time now, but unfortunately, appears unlikely to happen in December.
First of all, Canelo is a Golden Boy boxer and Cotto is a Top Rank boxer, meaning this fight has complications from the start. However, Oscar de la Hoya and Arum would likely bury the hatchet for a massive money-raking fight like this one.
There is also the fact that Cotto seems hesitant for this fight as of right now. As mentioned earlier, he wants to pick his fights wisely and a showdown with the younger, stronger Alvarez could very easily mean the end of his title reign.
Additionally, it appears that James Kirkland is the frontrunner for Canelo’s next opponent in December.
This fight is a long shot, but with the amount of money involved, you can’t count it out yet.
Look for spring of 2015 for this fight to get serious consideration.