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Miguel Cotto needs to perform better outside the ring before he steps in it

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

Miguel Cotto is one of the great boxers of his generation, though he's not remotely in the class of one-time opponents Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.

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Miguel Cotto had his moments against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in their 2012 bout, but ultimately lost. (AP)

When it comes to self promotion, Cotto's even farther behind. And in 21st-century boxing, that's not a good thing. For a fight to be a success, it requires an extraordinary commitment of time and cooperation from the star.

Cotto is the star of Saturday night's fight against Austin Trout at Madison Square Garden, yet you wouldn't know it, if you knew the fight was happening at all.

Thanks to brilliant work by Top Rank, Cotto became a mega-star in New York. His bouts attracted massive numbers of the city's passionate Puerto Rican fight fans who roared their approval of his every move. His bouts in the Garden with Antonio Margarito, Paulie Malignaggi, Zab Judah and Shane Mosley were massive events.

His fight with Trout, which will be televised on Showtime, is no such thing, and that has nothing to do with Trout and everything to do with Cotto.

Trout, who holds the WBA super welterweight title, is widely unknown and is making his first foray into boxing's big-time. He showed during his stint as a color analyst for Showtime that he's a bright, articulate guy.

But he doesn't have the name and his style isn't going to attract many other than the most ardent fight fans.

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Cotto, of course, has the style that is pleasing to the masses. He's a brilliant boxer who is as tough and as fearless as they come.

After his win over Margarito in 2011, Cotto decided (as many veteran star boxers opt to do) to go on his own and promote himself. He did that in his fight with Mayweather, though Cotto was definitely the B side and Mayweather carried the show.

Cotto, though, as a promoter, is not willing to carry a show the way Mayweather can and does. Say what you want about Mayweather, but the man is tireless when it comes to promoting his fights. His Las Vegas gym is open for all media who want to watch him work. When he's not training, he spends all of his free time hyping his bouts. His public relations schedule is unbelievable.

Cotto has never been a great interview like Mayweather, but that's not his only problem. He's not very accessible, either. When he held a news conference in New York several months ago to formally announce the fight with Trout, Cotto was strangely unavailable.

His lawyer, Gaby Peñagarícano, weakly told reporters who were seeking an interview with Cotto that he "was unavailable."

That might work when one is fighting Mayweather and Pacquiao, who are going to command an extraordinary amount of attention on their own. It's not going to work when the opponent isn't a household name.

The stoic Cotto faces a dual challenge on Saturday: Winning the WBA title from the slick and elusive Trout, while also keeping himself in the mix as a big draw.

He lost a wide decision to Mayweather in May, though he did have his share of moments in the bout. Before that, he was impressive in stopping Margarito, his bitter rival, in the 10th round of their heated fight on Dec. 3, 2011.

He was trained by Cuban Pedro Diaz for both of those fights and said Diaz has made significant improvements in his game.

"Pedro has been a great addition to my career and for our team," Cotto said. "Everyone saw the results with my fights against Margarito and Mayweather. Now, we'll see how I perform against Trout."

It's no slam dunk that he beats Trout, though Cotto is a rare talent who consistently rises to meet the challenge.

But he's clearly not performing in the promotional end. Boxing doesn't have the built-in marketing mechanism that team sports like the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball have, and it's often up to the star fight to carry the show.

When the star is reluctant to do much heavy lifting, the shows will struggle.

Golden Boy is doing its best from a promotional and marketing front to turn the bout into an event, but it's lacking the cooperation from Cotto, the only man who can make it so.

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