By Lyle Fitzsimmons
It’s one thing to be wrong.
It’s another thing to be so preposterously wrong that you breathe deeply and thank God for the restraint that kept you from making a really stupid wager on what you saw as a sure thing.
Such was the case with me, Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez on Saturday night.
As you might have read in this space last week, I had no doubts heading into the weekend.
The reigning middleweight champion was bigger, stronger, faster, more accomplished and simply itching for the chance to take a few nicely-compensated whacks at a guy he considered an A-side diva.
I got to the Garden, sat inches above an ice-cold slab through undercard bouts that were intermittently titillating and trance-inducing, and waited for my Tuesday morning forecast to be proven prescient.
In fact, as a colleague arrived in the media section just a few seconds before the opening bell and asked who I liked, I dropped my pen, leaned to my right and said, “To be honest, I think Sergio kicks his ass.”
A minute later, the champ was on the floor … and I was frantically texting my wife to promise I hadn’t gone through with the boast I made as I headed for the airport – that I’d “bet the house” on Sergio.
After all, to be proven a fool is one thing.
To be left a homeless fool because of it is quite another.
Still, now that a few days have passed and the initial shock has faded, I actually would have a hard time being happier that Cotto took care of his business. I’ve been a fan of his for many years, have always found him cordial, professional and accommodating with his interviews and have long considered him to be one of the truly decent guys both in and out of the ring.
He may have been a diva, but he certainly proved his point.
And now that he’s done so, my heart’s been set to racing as I ponder what might be next.
While defense No. 1 of Cotto’s new WBC belt would mandatorily come against the surely respectable – but hardly transcendent – Marco Antonio Rubio, the suitors lined up for Nos. 2 and beyond translate into matchups that exceed most anything the middleweights have seen in a while.
Canelo Alvarez would be available and presumably willing if he gets by Erislandy Lara next month, and it’s a fight that had already been discussed at 154 before Cotto chose to chase Martinez. Now, with the chance to add a belt in a brand-new class, it’s a no-brainer for the Mexican to climb the ladder.
An already established middleweight, IBO/WBA champ Gennady Golovkin is an intriguing option assuming he gets by former champ Daniel Geale when they meet in the Garden’s big room in July. Triple-G had been considered heir apparent to Martinez, so if Ric Flair’s “to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man” litmus works at 160 pounds, too, the Kazakhstan slugger has a new target to shoot at.
But as attractive as those fights might be to the masses, it’s two far less likely ones I like better.
Imagine, if you will, the specter of Cotto facing Manny Pacquiao again – though this time without the contractual stipulation that he weigh two pounds beneath his class limit while defending his own championship. It’d be fun, but short of technology enabling Freddie Roach to clone himself and work the corners of both his old and new bosses, it’s about as likely as a Schaefer-De La Hoya joint barbecue.
Which leaves the main dish as the main event.
Of course, were it not for out-of-ring nonsense, the idea of Floyd Mayweather Jr. heading up from welterweight to face a guy he clearly outpointed two years ago would make nothing but sense. But in boxing, it’s a proposition that’s already been greeted by 100 reasons why not instead of one reason why.
Well, here’s one guy who says it’ll happen by the end of 2015.
Because I think everyone who matters wants it.
Deep in his heart of hearts, I’m sure Mayweather relishes the challenge of adding one more weight class to a resume that already lists five divisional championships. And because he now can get it by handling a guy he handled on the eve of a jail stay in 2012, I’m just as sure he believes it’s within reach.
Same goes for Cotto, who bloodied “Money’s” nose while providing him with as much trouble as anyone through 46 fights. And even though that rough stuff didn’t parlay to more than eight of a possible 36 scorecard rounds at 154, I’m guessing the new champ believes a 160-pound encore will end differently.
They’re both masters of their own would-be domains, which presumably means they’d be able to get it done without full-fledged oversight – read: top billing – from anyone’s promotional nemeses. Cotto’s a television free agent, too, so that’s one less obstacle to clear between now and fight night.
Iron out the purse minutiae, put it on the Garden marquee and if we’re not careful, we’ll have ourselves a good, old-fashioned super fight with a legitimate shot at making pay-per-view history.
Here’s hoping no one spends too much energy finding a reason to screw it up.
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
WBO junior middleweight title – Brooklyn, N.Y.
Demetrius Andrade (champion/No. 7 IWBR) vs. Brian Rose (No. 1 contender/No. 10 IWBR)
Andrade (20-0, 13 KO): First title defense; Eighth fight scheduled for 10 or more rounds (7-0, 4 KO)
Rose (25-1-1, 7 KO): First title fight; Unbeaten since lone career loss in 2010 (11-0, 3 KO)
Fitzbitz says: While Rose might indeed have the heart of a “Lion,” he appears to be outdone in every other pertinent area against Andrade, who’ll soon be a legit player at 154 pounds. Andrade in 10
WBO junior welterweight title – Brooklyn, N.Y.
Ruslan Provodnikov (champion/No. 8 IWBR) vs. Chris Algieri (No. 13 contender/No. 22 IWBR)
Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KO): First title defense; Fighting in seventh U.S. state (CT, NV, WA, TX, CA, CO)
Algieri (19-0, 8 KO): First title fight; First fight scheduled for 12 rounds
Fitzbitz says: They didn’t bring Provodnikov to Brooklyn to lose, so unless the prohibitive underdog challenger (7-to-1 at Bet365.com) brings some added weaponry, he won’t. Provodnikov in 7
Last week's picks: 2-1
2014 picks record: 43-10 (81.1 percent)
Overall picks record: 590-204 (74.3 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.