Miguel Cotto is a terrific fighter. Overlooked in his loss to Manny Pacquiao will inevitably be that fact, because boxing fans so often have such short-sighted views of the fighters that populate this demanding, glorious sport. While touting the idea that an undefeated record isn't everything it's cracked up to be, the collective is also too fast to pull their trigger on a fighter being washed-up, finished, irreparably damaged, or whatever you might want to call it.
Miguel Cotto isn't shot. Is he knocked down? Yes, but he's going to get back up.
Doug Fischer at The Ring posted an article on Sunday about Cotto's professionalism, and his desire to keep fighting. Our own Brickhaus posted something similar in tone, looking at Cotto's future options immediately after the loss to Pacquiao.
Cotto, 29, says he'll be taking a break from boxing. He deserves it. Miguel Cotto, as he says, fights the best. When he moved up to welterweight, he did so with a fight against crafty, unbeaten fellow Puerto Rican Carlos Quintana, and he stopped him with a body shot. Zab Judah was the next good name on the hitlist, in 2007. Cotto beat Shane Mosley. And in July 2008, the Margarito fight happened. Earlier this year, Cotto took on Joshua Clottey, a welterweight nobody else wanted to fight at the time.
So what really is next?
Bob Arum says the Mosley-Berto winner could be next for Cotto, but I'd doubt that. True, if Mayweather-Pacquiao materializes, the Mosley-Berto winner only has a few options himself. A great fight could lead to a rematch, but otherwise, you're looking at Cotto and Clottey as potential opponents, maybe Paul Williams at 154 pounds (I am no longer convinced Williams can make 147, as he hasn't in a good while now).
Arum also keeps talking about Antonio Margarito. Miguel Cotto has taken the hard line on that one: No Margarito rematch. While Margarito's team thinks Cotto can be lured by money, I don't think he can. And Arum can keep telling us that we all want to see Margarito-Cotto II, but again, there are a lot of us that have no interest in seeing Margarito against anyone.
I think a lot of it boils down to this: In boxing, you are putting a certain amount of trust in your opponent to be square with you, to not put you in any more danger than the sport itself presents naturally. Could Cotto ever trust Margarito to do that? He's stated clearly he thinks he loaded his wraps when they fought the first time. There's no way Miguel Cotto can trust Margarito on that level. Cotto has children. Cotto has a family. He's got a lot of life to live when he's done boxing. Do you want to risk all that for a payday with a guy whose reputation is so tarnished that, frankly, I don't think it's even that big of a fight anymore?
Would YOU risk it?
I wouldn't. I don't think Cotto will, either. If Margarito does get his license back in California in February, expect Bob Arum to have some difficulty finding anyone other than journeymen and "nothing to lose" guys to fight him, at least for anything remotely resembling a split they'll want. Other promoters aren't going to want to risk their stars against him either. Maybe for 80-20 and a very thorough check of the wrapping process, though...
Margarito has a tough row to hoe if California lets him return. And even if they do and Cotto is offered more money than the fight is even worth, don't expect to see that rematch. Ever. And I think we're better off with professionals like Miguel Cotto not wavering on issues like this, too.