Miguel Cotto got the most satisfying win of his career last night. Where does he go next? (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Miguel Cotto is in one hell of an enviable position today.
The Puerto Rican star is one of the few fighters who can be counted on to draw a legitimate crowd on American soil. And after last night's one-sided whipping of the reviled Antonio Margarito, he firmly established himself, even breathed new life into his status as the active hero of Puerto Rican boxing.
What's next for Miguel Cotto?
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It's rare that you can say this about a fighter, but this is the answer: Whatever the hell he wants to do.
After last night's victory, Cotto is all but free and clear from Top Rank. That's not to say he's going to leave; after the fight, he said he's a Top Rank fighter, and sounded very warm about it, giving the indication that he will stay.
But Miguel is no dummy. If there's bigger money out there to be made without the help of Bob Arum and Co., the company that has raised him in the professional ranks, he will leave, at least temporarily.
[ Related: What's Next for Antonio Margarito? ]
That is to say, if a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr is available to him, he will leave if he feels Top Rank can't make that happen.
This is not a new idea. Just this year, both Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez left Golden Boy Promotions to secure fights with Manny Pacquiao, as GBP simply could not deliver a fight with Top Rank's leading man.
There is a legitimate chance that Cotto faces Mayweather on May 5. It may not be likely, or probable, but yes, it could happen.
Cotto also has business ties with Golden Boy, as he has worked with them to put on shows with his own promotional company in Puerto Rico. He's got a lot to think about right now, and given his status as a legitimate star, his great fanbase, and the fact that he can sell a pay-per-view still, Cotto will be in demand.
In other words, expect Top Rank to do their very best to keep Miguel under their banner. Expect Golden Boy to try to change his mind. And expect Cotto to wonder if he shouldn't just become a hired gun, going where the money is, as he is 31 years old now and in the driver's seat of his career.
Most fighters -- the vast majority -- will never find themselves in this position. Not to this degree. And all due respect to the job Top Rank has done with him -- they have promoted him excellently, without question, for a decade -- I hope Miguel does what gives him the best fights and the biggest money.
If Mayweather isn't a possibility, the other top star just might be.
[ Related: Will Cotto Leave Top Rank? ]
When Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto fought in November 2009, Cotto came out and gave Pacquiao a test. Eventually, yes, Manny took over and his speed, fitness, and power were too much for Miguel, with Pacquiao stopping him in the 12th and final round.
But Cotto was ill-prepared for that fight. He'd split with uncle and former trainer Evangelista Cotto, leaving his friend Joe Santiago as lead trainer. Santiago was lead trainer in title only; Cotto essentially trained himself for the fight, with Santiago standing in the places that Evangelista had stood in before, and on fight night, as the heat turned up in the kitchen, it showed. Cotto got no help from a corner that wasn't good enough to offer any, basically flying solo trying to keep himself mentally and physically in the fight.
But it's a new day. Last night, Miguel Cotto exorcised the Margarito demons. How about looking to even the score with the only other man to ever defeat him?
Let's say that Mayweather vs Pacquaio doesn't happen on May 5, surprising 0% of boxing fans worldwide in the process. And let's say that Juan Manuel Marquez wants too much money and too much control for a fourth fight with Pacquiao. And let's say Top Rank signs Miguel Cotto to a new deal.
Do you really think they wouldn't look at Pacquiao vs Cotto II, with Cotto's name hot once again? And do you really think they'd rather match Pacquiao with Timothy Bradley?
So that, too, is a real possibility.
So is a move to middleweight for a title clash with Mexican star Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, which is the fight Bob Arum wants to make for Cotto. But like I said before, if Miguel Cotto sizes up Chavez, a six-foot tall middleweight who comes into the ring between 180 and 185 pounds in his last two outings, and says, "This guy's too big," I can't blame him. The guy's too big, he's not afraid to fight, and I don't think Miguel Cotto can make a dent in Chavez. Physically, it's a mismatch.
[ Related: Floyd Mayweather Jr Back on May 5 ]
Financially, the sky is the limit right now for Miguel Cotto. He is back to cemented as the No. 3 attraction in American boxing, and he doesn't have to be in New York for that. Pacquiao or Mayweather fights would have to be in Las Vegas, and it's not as if his fans haven't traveled with him for his trips to Sin City.
And beyond those three, if he moved over to Golden Boy, a big-time fight with Canelo Alvarez would be a natural fit.
It's great to be Miguel Cotto right now. We'll see what he plans to do, but he's going to make some more bank, whatever it is.