The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of June 9
What a weekend!
Miguel Cotto shocked the boxing world on Saturday night, knocking out Sergio Martinez at Madison Square Garden to capture the middleweight championship of the world.
We'll take a look at all the fallout from that big night, including what's next for Cotto and whether or not Martinez is done.
Golden Boy Promotions was rocked by the resignation of its CEO last week. What's next for the company and its founder Oscar De La Hoya? Also, what impact will this have on the pound-for-pound best fighter in the sport?
Expect all that and more in this week's edition of the hottest storylines in boxing.
What's Next for Miguel Cotto After Stunningly Lopsided Victory?
Cotto didn’t just beat Martinez on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden—he annihilated him.
The Puerto Rican legend jumped Martinez from the opening bell in Round 1, dropping him three times before you could even get settled back into your seat and setting the tone for the remainder of the shockingly one-sided fight.
Most of the prevailing wisdom—shows what that’s worth—said that if anyone would dominate the fight, it would be Martinez. His speed, size, power and style seemed perfectly suited to not just win the fight but possibly end the career of the brave warrior from Caguas, Puerto Rico.
Somebody must have forgotten to deliver that memo to Cotto.
He was the faster, stronger and more physical fighter. Just like he and his trainer Freddie Roach spent the week saying, he cut the ring off against Martinez, blasting him with devastating hooks at will and relentlessly pressuring.
He exuded confidence, seized the initiative in every exchange, got to his target first and looked like the dangerous stalker who ran his way through the junior welterweight ranks a decade ago. And he did it against a foe whom he wasn’t supposed to beat.
Cotto is the first Puerto Rican four-weight champion. He holds the WBC, and perhaps more significant, lineal middleweight championship. He’s the man at 160 pounds, as shocking as that may seem. And he’s a man with a ton of lucrative options.
If he wants to keep the nice green belt he just won, he’ll likely need to face Marco Antonio Rubio before the end of the year. The 33-year-old Mexican is the interim champion and ludicrously the mandatory challenger despite not winning a significant fight since losing a title challenge to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2012.
That fight isn’t pretty, but if Cotto wants to keep the belt as a bargaining chip, he’ll have to grin and bear it.
After that, the options are endless.
He turned down a fight with Canelo Alvarez, instead choosing the dare-to-be-great moment against Martinez. If Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions—more on that later—can reach an agreement now, that could be the biggest fight of 2015.
There’s also the possibility of a big-money middleweight rematch with Floyd Mayweather.
The Cotto who beat Martinez on Saturday night was light-years better than the man who gave Mayweather a rough fight in 2012, and that provides some serious drama about how a rematch would pan out.
Plenty of good, lucrative options exist for the new middleweight kingpin. It would seem that the first step would be to dispense with Rubio and then go on to bigger and better things early next year.
Is Sergio Martinez Done?
Martinez was the overwhelming consensus pick to steamroll through Cotto on Saturday night, raining on his parade—almost literally—and denying the Puerto Rican a chance at boxing history.
It’s true that the Argentine had health concerns coming into the fight—he’s suffered year-ending injuries to his right knee in each of the last two years—but those relying on that to discredit Cotto’s victory are doing the worst sort of Monday morning quarterbacking.
Were there legitimate concerns coming in? Yes, but Martinez, his team and his doctors told everyone who would listen that he was 100 percent and that his knee would not be an issue. Most fans and boxing media believed him, and even among those who didn’t, a fair amount still believed he could beat Cotto.
The fight must have felt like a nightmare for Martinez. He was battered from the opening bell, couldn’t find any avenues of attack to keep Cotto at bay and was forced to retire on his stool, as his trainer pulled him out of the fight after nine one-sided rounds.
The question now becomes, Does he have a future in the sport?
Martinez is 39 years old. He’s battled back from significant injuries, and he just suffered through the worst loss of his career. It’s a difficult road back from all of that, and it remains to be seen whether or not "Maravilla" decides it's worth attempting.
It could be time to ride off into the sunset, reveling in the light of a tremendous career rather than attempting to force something that may no longer be there.
What Happens Next for Golden Boy Promotions?
Unless you live under a rock or don’t have access to any social media platforms, it shouldn’t come as news that the boxing world underwent a couple of seismic shifts in the past week.
It all began on Tuesday when Richard Schaefer resigned as CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, a position he had held since the company’s inception in 2003, amid a souring of his relationship with founder Oscar De La Hoya and questions about his handling of the company.
The situation rapidly escalated, with pound-for-pound king Mayweather announcing he would not do business with Golden Boy any longer—something he later qualified to mean for just his next fight and not necessarily permanently—and legitimate questions being raised about the future of the company.
Bob Arum, head of longtime Golden Boy rival Top Rank, speculated that the real issue in the coming days will be which fighters actually remain under the control of Golden Boy. The resolution of that issue is likely to be complex, involving lawyers and litigation, and could, at least in the immediate term, prevent the thawing of the Cold War that so many fans hoped for.
The crux of the issue remains which fighters are currently signed to promotional contracts with Golden Boy, and which, despite fighting on their cards, are only under contract with manager Al Haymon, who enjoys a close relationship with Schaefer and Mayweather but has none with De La Hoya.
De La Hoya—who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame this weekend—and what’s left of his front office will need to do a thorough accounting in the coming days, and it’s hard to foresee a scenario where this doesn’t end up in court.
And when that happens, who knows where this train stops?
Who Is Left for Floyd Mayweather to Fight?
Mayweather, boxing’s undisputed pound-for-pound king, quickly ended his business relationship with Golden Boy Promotions—with whom he’s worked on every fight since his 2007 bout with founder De La Hoya—just hours after Schaefer announced his resignation from the company.
The following day, Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions and close confidante to the superstar, qualified that statement, telling Fighthype.com that they might be willing to work with Golden Boy in the future, just not for Mayweather’s next fight.
That makes some sense. Nobody knows exactly where all the chips are going to fall and what the fallout will be from the Golden Boy split. On an even more fundamental level, as we’ve already seen, nobody knows who’s actually under a promotional contract and who just works for Haymon.
That legal morass is going to be worked out by high-priced lawyers, but it also raises a bunch of questions about Mayweather’s next fight, scheduled for September 13 at a site to be determined.
Most important of those being: Who the heck is he going to fight?
Marcos Maidana, who pushed him to the limit in May, seemed the logical choice, but he, at least insofar as we know, is a Golden Boy fighter and would be off limits.
Amir Khan, another leading contender, pulled himself from September consideration due to Ramadan, but he’s also, we think, a Golden Boy fighter.
Herein lies the essential problem. We don’t yet know who is with whom, and that leaves everyone in limbo.
Even the biggest name in the sport.
Is Ruslan Provodnikov on Upset Alert?
Ruslan Provodnikov makes his Brooklyn, New York, debut on Saturday night, defending his WBO Junior Welterweight Championship for the first time against local fighter Chris Algieri.
"The Siberian Rocky" won the belt back in October, dropping and forcing Mike Alvarado to quit in front of his hometown fans in Denver.
The task before him this coming weekend, at least if you accept the prevailing wisdom, is not nearly as dangerous.
Algieri, a Huntington, New York, native, is not a household name. He’s undefeated but untested, and it would seem that he’s taking a massive leap in class in challenging Provodnikov.
The Russian has been frequently mentioned as a possible fall opponent for Manny Pacquiao, but Bob Arum, the head of Top Rank, believes that it could be the underdog who not only wins the fight but winds up shuttling off to Macau, China for the chance of a lifetime.
“The fight I would love to do and the fight I think I’m going to zero in and try to do is Pacquiao-Algieri after Algieri beats Provodnikov,” Arum said at a media event last Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
“I think Algieri has a good shot with his style to beat Provodnikov. It’s a better fight than people think.”
That’s high praise, and it raises an interesting question.
Algieri is more of a boxer, and given the high-profile nature of Provodnikov’s last two bouts—he faced Timothy Bradley and Mike Alvarado last year—could he be in for a letdown? Or could he struggle against a fighter who is committed to boxing and not giving him opportunities to slug?
Bradley was most effective against Provodnikov when he boxed—I'm not saying Algieri is on that level—but is it inconceivable that this fight could be closer than anticipated, given that type of style?
Kevin McRae is a featured boxing columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.