By Jake Donovan
Speculation ran all summer long as to who would be the lucky contestant to land a shot at lineal middleweight king Miguel Cotto. A date (December 13) and venue (Madison Square Garden in New York City) was set aside for Cotto’s return following his shockingly one-sided 9th round stoppage of Sergio Martinez this past June. All that was needed was an opponent, and means which to sufficiently prepare for the fight.
The latter proved to be too big a hurdle to overcome.
Cotto (39-4, 32KOs) announced through his verified Twitter feed on Wednesday afternoon of his decision to sit out for the remainder of 2014, setting his sights on a triumphant return in early 2015. The decision came after struggling to sort out a best-case scenario for sharing trainer Freddie Roach with star pupil Manny Pacquiao, who is training at home in Philippines for his November 23rd showdown with Chris Algieri in Macau, China.
“We explored different scenarios, with Freddie possibly spending a little longer in the United States and then everyone heading to Asia for the rest of his camp with Manny,” explained Gaby Peñagaricano, Cotto’s adviser. “It just didn’t work out, so we decided to wait until 2015 to return.”
It has yet to be confirmed whether or not HBO will attempt to fill the date. Efforts to reach network spokesmen seeking comment were unsuccessful.
An opponent hadn’t yet been sought, nor had one been seriously discussed. Rumors ran rampant of who would land the assignments, with names such as former middleweight champ Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and middleweight contender Andy Lee mentioned as potential frontrunners in the Miguel Cotto Sweepstakes. In the end, they just turned out to be rumors.
“Miguel wanted to fight, but the truth is if it’s not a big fight, he has the luxury of waiting until 2015,” Peñagaricano said of the Puerto Rican superstar. “Securing time to train for the fight was first and foremost before agreeing on an opponent.
“Now that we have time, Miguel will relax and then we will meet to discuss the best possible options for his return next year. By then, we will be able to explore all different scenarios before proceeding to the next step.”
A potential showdown with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is already being rumored as a strong possibility for the first half of 2015. Alvarez vowed earlier this year to take back Cinco de Mayo weekend, which Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao have occupied for the past several years.
Mayweather played the weekend for the 3rd straight year this past May, scoring a majority decision win over Marcos Maidana. The two will rematch on September 13th, a weekend generally marketed towards Mexican Independence Day and the kickoff to Hispanic Heritage Month. Mayweather will defend both his 147 lb. and 154 lb. championships in the fight.
Also on tap for the 4th quarter, unbeaten middleweight king Gennady Golovkin faces Marco Antonio Rubio on October 18 in Carson, California. Rubio was angling for a showdown with Cotto, as he presently serves as his mandatory challenger according to the World Boxing Council (WBC). The interim title he currently possesses will be at stake versus Golovkin, meaning Cotto will be obligated to face the winner as long as he currently holds on to the WBC title.
All will be taken into consideration for 2015, though not necessarily as Cotto’s next opponent when he returns to the ring.
“Time will tell who – and where (weight-wise) he will fight,” Peñagaricano revealed, suggesting Cotto can fight at either 154 lb., where he previously reigned as a titlist, or at 160 lb. in his first title defense. “It’s wherever he will be most comfortable, and also the best possible situation that comes to surface. By then, he will have Freddie for a full training camp, rather than having to share his time.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox