COMMENTARY | Puerto Rican three-division world champ Miguel Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs) may be on a two-fight losing streak and on the down side of a solid 12-year career, but he's not quite ready to hang up the gloves.
Cotto, who boasts a 17-4 record in world title fights, is reportedly planning a return to the ring later this year, with September being the month most often mentioned for his comeback.
While nothing is set in stone, it's fairly certain that the bout, held at the Golden Boy-exclusive Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., will be against a Golden Boy-approved opponent.
The fighter from Caguas, Puerto Rico hasn't been victorious since stopping archrival Antonio Margarito in December 2011, but gave solid performances in his two most recent losses against Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout. Despite lopsided scores against him in both bouts, Cotto managed to give Mayweather his toughest fight since Jose Luis Castillo and did well enough against Trout to avoid "he must retire" talk.
Still, Cotto is a very old (32) and likely has just one more world title push in him. He will have to be smart in his opponent selection for the remainder of his career and, as a promotional free agent, will have the freedom to pick and choose the fights that make the most sense at this point in his life.
The rumor buzzing around cyberspace is that Cotto may be headed toward a bout with former IBF champ Cornelius "K9" Bundrage, and that certainly makes sense on just about every level.
While not a true star, Bundrage has some name recognition and is close enough to the elite to be a meaningful notch on Cotto's resume. Stylistically, Bundrage is physically strong, but fairly stiff and one-dimensional. Barring some wild, blind knockout punch or some other foreseen circumstance, Cotto should be able to score a decisive win over "K9"
Some people say that Bundrage is just the back-up option for Cotto and his selection is totally dependent on whether Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is able to work out a deal with Floyd Mayweather for Sept. 14.
If egos and poor negotiating skills tear apart Mayweather-Alvarez, Cotto is thought to be the sure-thing, slam-dunk opponent chosen to face "Canelo."
A bout with the young, red-headed WBC and WBA titlist would certainly be Cotto's most lucrative option, but may also be the one most likely to result in a physically damaging defeat.
Alvarez, who will be 23 by the September fight date, will come into a Cotto clash as the physically bigger, stronger and fresher opponent and could very well score a highlight reel stoppage over a game, but ultimately outgunned Cotto.
On June 8, Erislandy Lara and Alfredo Angulo will meet in a junior middleweight bout that will see the winner move on to bigger and better things.
It's easy to imagine a victorious Angulo, with his style and temperament, moving on to face Cotto in a Fight of the Year war. It's much tougher to imagine Cotto opting to face the slick, awkward southpaw, Lara, in what could be a disastrous stylistic matchup for the Puerto Rican battler.
Victor Ortiz, after a stint on Dancing with the Stars, may be looking for a return to the ring soon and a Cotto bout would bring a big payday for the former welterweight champ. Ortiz was once willing to move up to junior middleweight to face Saul Alvarez, before being upset by Josesito Lopez in a tune up bout. It's conceivable that a date with Cotto would provide the same monetary incentive.
For Cotto, who is a smallish junior middleweight, anyway, a bout with a natural welterweight would be right up his alley. And given Ortiz's reputation for mental breakdowns in the ring, the gritty and old school Cotto would be expected to grind down and take out "Vicious" Victor.
The Long Shots
A dispute with Golden Boy has kept James Kirkland out of the ring since March of last year, but a rapidly shrinking bank account and a growing reputation as a "difficult" fighter behind the scenes, could convince the "Mandingo Warrior" to swallow his pride and be more receptive to fight talks.
Cotto-Kirkland would be a thrilling battle and a very risky one for a fairly shopworn Cotto. But too much would have to happen to make this possible.
Another option could be Vanes Martirosyan, a long-time junior middleweight contender, who recently signed with high-profile manager, Cameron Dunkin.
Martirosyan is promoted by Top Rank, and that may be a big obstacle in what will likely be a Golden Boy-heavy card, but Bob Arum has been willing to loan out the Armenian talent before and, if the money is right and the chance of an upset is solid enough, he could probably be convinced to do so again.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
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