Miguel Cotto's TKO Only An Appetizer

On Saturday night, Miguel Cotto impressed fans with a fourth round knockout of perennial title challenger, Daniel Geale. It was the third exciting knockout of a rejuvenated and reinvigorated Cotto. With this middling contender out of the way, the boxing world is salivating at the prospect of a fight worthy of Cotto's Hall of Fame career. They want Canelo Alarvez.

The second act of Miguel Cotto's career began almost a year and a half ago against little regarded Delvin Rodriguez. After watching Cotto fight Austin Trout with legs that seemed to be stuck in the sand, seeing Cotto's explosiveness against Rodriguez was shocking. Cotto continued his comeback with an even more exciting destruction of lineal middleweight champion, Sergio Martinez. The stage was set then to make best Mexico vs Puerto Rico matchup since Oscar De La Hoya fought Tito Trinidad, but egos, money and God only knows what else got in the way. So the boxing world was left with Cotto vs Geale. The fight allowed him to break a year-long fight drought and offered fans another opportunity to verify if the resurgence was real.

Or did it?

Despite the exciting performances that Cotto has put on, they may be more a function of careful matchmaking than anything else. Rodriguez has never been more than a contender and even that distinction has been questionable at times. Cotto caught Martinez after he'd suffered numerous injuries causing long layoffs and several surgeries. Cotto wanted nothing to do with Martinez back in 2011 when Martinez was busy calling him out. By the time Cotto stepped into the ring with the then lineal middleweight champion, Cotto was essentially fighting a one-legged man. And Geale, although a naturally much bigger man than Cotto, was coming off a devastating knockout at the hands of Gennady Golovkin and was forced to squeeze his thick figure into a 157 pound package for the weigh-in. In short, Cotto's resurgence has come against well-picked (by Cotto's management) opposition, to show off the undeniable large impact that Cotto's new trainer, Freddie Roach, has had on Cotto.

To make big money, however, Cotto now has to step up in class. HBO, the World Boxing Council (WBC) and the fans have all gotten behind that premise, but this is where things get murky. Most would agree that the biggest step up in class, and the one to bring the most order to the middleweight division, is a fight against Golovkin. If you ask most Latinos - especially Mexican and Mexican-American fans - then they'd likely say that the next fight they want to see is Cotto vs Canelo Alvarez. And then, there this is another name out there lurking and maybe plotting to upend everyone else plans: Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Mayweather has laid a claim to the two biggest Mexican holidays of the year: Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day in September. Canelo Alvarez has been vocal about trying to reclaim those dates for Mexicans. He tried to do exactly that this past May, but failed. All fights stood in the shadow of the long-awaited super fight between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiaio. Even if Alvarez had been able to secure Cotto for Cinco de Mayo, it is doubtful that Golden Boy Promotions would have put on the fight in direct competition to Mayweather-Pacquiao.

Now comes the latest installment of the Game of Thrones: Boxing Edition (see volumes 1 and 2). If Cotto vs Canelo can be made for Mexican Independence Day weekend, and if Mayweather wants to fight on that same date, then Mayweather knows his selection of viable opponents is limited. If you have to choose between paying for Cotto vs Canelo or paying for a Mayweather fight, which opponent would convince you to pay for the Mayweather fight? Surely not Amir Khan. Khan who looked slow, stagnant, and surprised all night against Chris Algieri just doesn't bring enough excitement to make me, and likely most, boxing fans choose that fight over Cotto vs Canelo. The fact is, no welterweight out there would likely entice fans enough to watch the Mayweather fight.

Enter the latest boogeyman of boxing: Gennady Golovkin. If Mayweather fights Golovkin, then Al Haymon can charge me another $100 because I'm buying that fight. But let's be real. There is no way in hell that fight is happening. So will Mayweather admit defeat and concede the September date? Not likely. My crystal ball says Mayweather will do what he does best, throw money at the problem. And the problem here is Cotto.

Canelo Alarvez can only maintain a viable claim to Mexican Independence Day with a dance partner like Cotto. If Mayweather can offer Cotto a big enough payday for a rematch of their exciting first meeting, then Mayweather can have an epic final fight. One that could be for the lineal middleweight title (if not the WBC title as well, assuming Cotto isn't stripped of it for disobeying the sanctioning body's rules). Assuming Mayweather wins, he'd join Manny Pacquaio in the elite 8-division champion club.

To add a final layer of Game of Thrones political complexity to this situation, I should point out one last wrinkle to this morass: Mayweather's right hand, Al Haymon, seems to have beef with Cotto's new promoter, Roc Nation. Is that beef enough to stop a potential fight?

Only time will tell. But unless things go horribly wrong, it seems that Cotto's next fight is realistically limited to Canelo, Mayweather or Golovkin. With names like that on the slate, how can the fans lose? If only the candidates for the next Presidency were that good...

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