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Can ‘Reborn’ Miguel Cotto Stay Relevant in Cutthroat Junior Middleweight Division?

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COMMENTARY | It's no secret that fighters like to build their own star power by beating an established star who may be on the down side of a long career. Mayweather and Pacquiao beat De la Hoya, De la Hoya beat Chavez and Whitaker, etc. This type of piggy-backing is a common practice in the sport and it's the perfect opportunity to make a low-risk/high-reward money fight for someone looking to move up to the next level of stardom.

Miguel Cotto has never been a mainstream superstar, but he's been an elite-level player for the last several years and one of boxing's few certified draws as figurehead of the large and loyal Puerto Rican boxing fan base. He's also been targeted for this forced passing of the torch on at least three separate occasions and is still around in defiance of the old school ritual.

After a brutal career-threatening TKO 11 beating at the hands of Antonio Margarito and a tough split decision win over Joshua Clottey, Manny Pacquiao came calling in 2009 and beat up the Boricua bomber to take a TKO 12 victory. It was supposed to be the end of a distinguished career, but Cotto shocked the experts by bouncing back with three straight wins, including an RTD 9 victory over bitter rival, Margarito.

A rebuilt Cotto would then go on to give a spirited effort in losing to Floyd Mayweather via unanimous decision. However, a less-than-spirited unanimous decision loss to Austin Trout followed in late 2012 and the talk was that Cotto had finally lost his mojo.

It was no sure thing that Cotto would fight on, but since he made the decision to hang around, a small group of possible opponents has begun lining up in an effort to finally close the book on Cotto's career.

Saul Alvarez's trainer, "Chepo" Reynoso, has already expressed interest in his fighter facing Cotto next. Austin Trout has also chimed in, publicly talking about wanting the winner of Saturday's Miguel Cotto-Delvin Rodriguez bout. New Mexico's Trout, who lost his WBA junior middleweight title to Saul Alvarez in April, scored unanimous decision victories over both Cotto and Rodriguez in 2012. Even new IBF 154 lb. champ, Carlos Molina, has made it known that he'd be more than willing to square off against the former three-division world champ from Caguas, Puerto Rico.

Cotto's future has been the topic of internet buzz for the last several weeks, circulating unsubstantiated rumors of him facing everyone from Sergio Martinez in a bid for the middleweight title to Floyd Mayweather in an unlikely rematch.

But all roads to Cotto's future must go through Delvin Rodriguez, a tough enough opponent to make all would be future opposition hold their breath a bit. With new trainer, Freddie Roach in his corner, Cotto seems intent upon a real run at a world title and not a retirement tour aimed at padding his nest egg.

"It's my opportunity to be reborn and show to the whole world, Miguel Cotto is still here," Cotto told HBO. "Miguel Cotto still has a passion for this sport. I'm finishing my career in the best way possible."

For now, the wannabe torch grabbers and career piggy-backers will have to wait. Cotto is back and he aims to stick around.

Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and is the author of Notes from the Boxing Underground. 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.

Sources: Diario de Morelos, Primera Hora, Fight Saga, HBO

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