By Chris Robinson
The boxing world is still soaking in the aftermath of Miguel Cotto’s polished-boxing display that paved the way towards a 10th round TKO over Antonio Margarito in their anticipated rematch. Inside of Madison Square Garden, Cotto would tag his Tijuana rival with precise counterpunches throughout the fight, busting up Margarito’s surgically-repaired right eye and forcing a stoppage after the ringside physicians on hand had seen enough after nine rounds.
It was sweet revenge for Cotto, who fell to Margarito via 11th round TKO in July of 2008, and the victory seemed to be only partially-expected from HBO color analyst Larry Merchant.
“It was not a big shock to me but it was a pleasant surprise,” said Merchant. “You know, proof and justice don’t always win in boxing.”
Merchant has covered countless Cotto fights throughout the Puerto Rican’s ten-plus year career and had a few champions in mind when pondering his next move.
“I’d certainly like to see him fight [Floyd] Mayweather,” Merchant continued. “And after that he’s in a division full of guys who are worthy opponents and certainly, if he ever got to fight Canelo [Alvarez], it would be a big event. But maybe [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr. is more realistic. I think that the fact that this fight supposedly did very well on pay-per-view, will give him a number of options.”
Elaborating on a possible fight against Sinaloa, Mexico’s Chavez Jr., the reigning WBC middleweight champion, Merchant can instantly see the danger in the fight because of the drastic size advantage at hand but feels that other factors could come into play.
“Cotto’s had a wonderful career. He’s fought a lot of dangerous fights,” said Merchant. “Mosley, Pacquiao, Margarito, and now he’s reached a point in his career where it’s going to be economics. Chavez is a full-grown middleweight, comes in weighing between 175 and 180 on the nights of fights. Does Cotto want a guy that big? If the money’s right, maybe he would.”
And while fights with Mayweather Jr. and Saul Alvarez, the respective WBC champions at 147 and 154 pounds, are surely enticing, the fact that both fighters are either promoted by or work with Golden Boy Promotions, with whom Cotto’s promoter Bob Arum has an icy relationship, could present difficulties.
“Here’s the problem,” Merchant claimed. “That Top Rank does its damnedest, and usually successfully, to keep fights in-house. So that cuts the available opponents down. If he elects to stay with Top Rank, they’ve had difficulty, for example, with fights with Mayweather. And they do have Chavez. They don’t have Canelo. So, form that point of view, Chavez may be the one.”
But there’s no rush.
Cotto has endured a long, hard road during his championship days and he’s at a point where some downtime would be appreciated after his grudge match with Margarito, whom he made it clear that he had some serious disdain towards.
“I’ll say this; the tremendous emotional as well as physical effort that went into preparing for [Saturday] night, it’s going to take Cotto some time,” Merchant said. “Look, he won the big fight and this is the time where you say he outta be able to savor this one given the whole deeply-emotional narrative of what happened last night.
“I think he’s in a good place right now and whenever he decides to fight again, there will be people to fight him and money to be made.”
[Reader's note: For images from the recent Cotto-Margarito rematch please visit Miguel Cotto extracts revenge, stops Margarito in 10 ]