Miguel Cotto appears headed for a second chance against Manny Pacquiao in June. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
In news that will surprise no one and is pretty much what I've expected to hear for weeks, Salvador Rodriguez reports that we're likely going to see Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto in a rematch on June 9.
Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KO) and Cotto (37-2, 30 KO) are going to rematch for a simple, obvious reason, before anyone asks: Money. Both have legitimate fanbases who don't consider this to be a mismatch, or if they do, don't care if it is one.
So that's why. Before you wonder if someone else probably deserved the fight instead, yes, someone else probably did, and we're not taking Mayweather into consideration here. Tim Bradley has earned the fight as much as anybody earns anything in boxing. A fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez likely would have been preferred by some. But it's going to be Cotto -- the report from Rodriguez isn't guaranteeing the fight or anything, but this has been the hard rumor for weeks now. I really have no doubt this is the fight that's coming to us.
As I've said before, I'm in favor of the bout. I'm interested to see what a rejuvenated Miguel Cotto, working with a real trainer, can do against a declining Pacquiao. It's a fine and fair argument that no matter what Cotto does, Pacquiao will always be a nightmare matchup for him, and that may in fact be the case.
But I don't believe the Pacquiao we have here in 2012, no matter how well-prepared he is or which Alex Ariza training book he's working from this time, is near the November 2009 Pacquiao. In my view, Pacquiao peaked for good in '09 with his wins over Ricky Hatton and Cotto. He was ferocious in those fights -- fast, strong, in incredible physical shape, and boxing like a man possessed.
That's not who he is now. Pacquiao is 33 years old. This was going to happen soon, and he's been in tough, high-level fights for 14 years now, and has been a pro for 17 years. He's been through the wars with a lot of top guys. His recent dominance has prolonged his career to some degree, as has his improvements over the years (as has selective matchmaking recently), but when you watch his two fights in 2011, I don't think there's any argument that physically, he is regressing.
Cotto's 31 and while this will kind of be an argument against my belief that this fight is fine, really has never been the same since the Margarito beating of 2008 and will never be his true prime self, either. But I think Cotto relied a bit less on physical gifts. While Pacquiao was in many ways not a natural boxer, and had to learn grace and poise in the ring, he is a fantastic athlete. He's very strong, very quick on his feet and with his hands. Miguel Cotto, to me, was always no more than a B+ in any category other than toughness and, for a while there, the ability to intimidate opponents. He lost some in both cases after the Margarito fight, and whether that fight was fair or not, whether Margarito cheated or not, the point is it happened, and you can't change that any more than you can unring a bell.
If we're really honest about Cotto's 3-0 record since the loss to Pacquiao, here's what you've got:
- Yuri Foreman, a guy who was no more an elite-level boxer than he is a Catholic. Foreman seems like a nice, gentle human being who doesn't like violence or fighting. Even without the knee injury, he was going to lose to Cotto. He just wasn't good enough.
- Ricardo Mayorga, a washed-up guy who hasn't beaten anyone good in years and years. Mayorga is still great entertainment before a fight, and in a fight before he starts getting hit too many times.
- Antonio Margarito, who effectively has one eye and hasn't done anything in over three years except lose that eye.
I definitely would prefer to see the Bradley fight, but I understand why that's not happening. I don't have any compelling reasons why Pacquiao vs Cotto II is a good fight, and will understand the backlash. But I have some belief this is going to be a good fight.
The next move is Floyd Mayweather announcing a May 5 fight -- and I'm not sure they really have anything lined up. For the time being, Canelo Alvarez appears the leading candidate.