Miguel Cotto has been one of boxing's great champions and bravest warriors for well more than a decade. But Cotto, who shared the ring with nearly all of the big names of his generation, may well be looking at the most significant challenge of his career.
Gennady Golovkin continued his middleweight reign of terror, destroying a game Martin Murray Saturday in a fight that went a lot longer than it should have. Golovkin pummeled Murray with punishing shots to the body and head, knocked him down three times and stopped him in the first minute of the 11th round in Monte Carlo to retain the WBA and interim WBC middleweight belts.
Before he'd left the ring, he called out Cotto, who is not only the linear middleweight king but the holder of the regular WBC 160-pound belt.
Holding that belt has brought Cotto directly into the crosshairs of Golovkin, which has not proven to be a good thing for any fighter. Golovkin is now 32-0 with 29 knockouts after scoring his 19th consecutive knockout Saturday, and he said he wants to unify the WBC belt with Cotto.
Though Cotto has shared the ring with both Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, he's never been in with a fighter who was remotely as big, fast, strong, powerful, accurate and mean as Golovkin.
Cotto, who won the middleweight title in stunningly one-sided fashion on June 7 in New York against Sergio Martinez, opted against a May 2 fight with Canelo Alvarez. He apparently was waiting to see if he'd get an offer from Mayweather for a rematch of their entertaining 2012 fight.
But when Mayweather chose Pacquiao, it left Cotto without an obvious opponent, until Golovkin called him out.
Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler of K2 said he'd had preliminary talks before the Murray fight with Cotto attorney Gaby Peñagaricano. Loeffler said he thought a Cotto-Golovkin pay-per-view bout would be the best match that could be made for Cotto now that Mayweather opted to fight Pacquiao instead.
"We're prepared to make significant concessions to get Cotto into the ring to get this fight done," Loeffler said.
It will be a hard fight for Cotto to turn down, because he has no other really serious options. There has been some talk of a match with Timothy Bradley, but Bradley would be making a huge jump up in weight and he's coming off a disappointing draw with Diego Chaves. Brandon Rios has also been linked with Cotto, but he would be nowhere near the drawing card in New York that Golovkin would be.
But it would also be a hard bout for Cotto to take given how devastating Golovkin has been. Loeffler laughed when he was asked if he gets frustrated trying to put together matches for Golovkin, whose combination of size, speed, power and chin make him a difficult match for anyone at middleweight.
"If he were only fighting once a year and not getting a big fight, it would be very frustrating, but Gennady fights so often and stays so active, that it takes some of the sting out of it," Loeffler said. "We want the big fights and Gennady has said he is willing to move up in weight to get them. But it takes two guys to want to fight.
"We feel like Martin Murray is probably the second-best middleweight out there. He showed a lot of heart against Gennady and he fought back and landed some punches. He has some power, too. He dropped Sergio Martinez twice [in 2013] even though he only got credit for one, but it proves he can punch. And Gennady had no problem taking his power. Gennady's chin has been tested many times, and his power speaks for itself."