By Kirk Jackson
At long last, fans finally get to see a match-up we’ve all been eagerly anticipating for some time now.
No, this is not a reference to Floyd Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) vs. Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2m, 38 KOs), which thankfully, will happen May 2nd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Approximately one month later from that date, on the opposite side of the country, on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York city, Miguel Cotto (39-4, 32 KOs) will make his highly awaited return to the ring.
Sadly, his return will not be against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (41-1-1, 31 KOs), or against one of boxing’s hottest commodities, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (32-0, 29 KOs).
The opponent? Still to be determined.
Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage (34-5, 19 KOs) was rumored to be an opponent for Cotto, but Bundrage is now being linked to fighting Timothy Bradley (31-1-1, 12 KOs) instead.
Former WBC junior middleweight champion Sergio Mora (28-3-2, 9 KOs) is a name referenced as a potential opponent, along with multiple division champion and current welterweight contender, Amir Khan (30-3, 19 KOs).
Unknown fighter Jorge Sebastian Heiland (25-4-2 (13 KOs) is an option and others will probably be in the running for the Miguel Cotto Sweepstakes as well. The fans however, will not be satisfied unless they see Cotto in the ring with Alvarez or Golovkin.
Which is what we should expect, right? The best fighting the best. But boxing is a business and we don’t always see the best match-ups.
It’s not a huge dilemma, if we take a look at the grand scale of things. There are plenty of fighters, past and present, who took an easier fight than what was in “public demand.”
Alvarez up until recently had a soft resume of opponents. Golovkin hasn’t exactly faced the best quality opposition; there’s variables at play, but it’s the truth.
The legendary Sugar Ray Robinson did not go out of his way to face Charley Burley, or any members of the “Murderer’s Row” which also included Lloyd Marshall, Holman Williams, Herbert “Cocoa Kid” Lewis Hardwick, Jack Chase, Eddie Booker, Elmer Ray, Aaron Wade and Bert Lytell.
Miguel Cotto’s resume, of course, includes stiff challenges from Ricardo Torres, DeMarcus Corley, Paulie Malignaggi, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
But well into his Hall of Fame career, Cotto also faced the likes of Alfonso Gomez, Delvin Rodriguez and Michael Jennings. One can also easily argue Sergio Martinez was far removed from his physical prime and fighting on one leg.
So having a soft touch on the resume shouldn’t be a surprise. The level of negative criticism, however, that comes with it is surprising and somewhat unfair.
Also, this negative backlash is a testament to Bob Arum’s greatness as a promoter. Fighters that end up leaving Arum and Top Rank promotions usually have their reputations tarnished (Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather come to mind).
When Mayweather was fighting under the Top Rank banner, Arum was quoted as saying Floyd Mayweather is the best fighter he’s seen since Muhammad Ali.
But for the better part of the last decade, with Mayweather deciding to take his talents elsewhere, Arum unleashed a barrage of insults against Mayweather on various occasions, as he did with De La Hoya during the time of his departure and now with Cotto.
The key trait for a promoter is possessing the ability to manipulate public perception, at which Arum truly is the best in the business.
Cotto, was once described as the fan’s fighter. Known for taking on all challengers,
If we are to criticize Miguel Cotto for his opponent selection, can we do the same for Golovkin? Do some of these criticisms apply to some of the current stable of Top Rank fighters? Perhaps even the greatest of the bunch, Manny Pacquiao?
If we try see things from the perspective of Cotto, it’s difficult to find fault in his reasoning.
“I have nothing to say to Bob Arum. He’s never given me anything. What I have is a product of my effort. The money that Mr. Bob Arum invested in Miguel Cotto was recovered ten times over. This is a business and from my signing in 2001, I was a business in the eyes of Top Rank,” Cotto said to El Vocero.
“One plus one is two in any language. They think I’m a moron but I’m not. They spent years doing the same practice. It has happened to three boxers who have realized that: Oscar De La Hoya, Mayweather Jr., and now, Miguel Cotto. With all three it was the same situation with the same common denominator,” Cotto continued.
Cotto is following the path carved by the likes of Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather respectively. The fighter has now aligned with Roc Nation Sports, signing a lucrative three-fight deal that can earn him up to 50 million dollars.
ESPN Deportes confirms that there also is a cross-promotion deal in place, which could earn Cotto around 100 million dollars as well.
Disgruntled fans and outsiders can cast stones, but until they walk in the other person’s shoes, what gives them the right to be so critical, and if so, measure Cotto by the same guidelines as everyone else?
Cotto is coming towards the end of his career, he wants financial security and has paid his dues. He’s the only Puerto Rican four-division world champion in the island’s rich history of boxers. He scrapped with the top opposition of his generation, Pacquiao, Mayweather and Mosley. He arguably fought a cheater in Antonio Margarito.
With three fights left in his career, there is the possibility he will still fight Alvarez or Golovkin.
The question is, what would you do in his position?