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Ranking Miguel Cotto's Best Option for Next Fight After TKO vs. Sergio Martinez

Lyle FitzsimmonsFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2014

Ranking Miguel Cotto's Best Option for Next Fight After TKO vs. Sergio Martinez

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Well, that was easy.

    And with as dominant a performance as he displayed on Saturday against a middleweight champion who had not lost a fight in four-and-a-half years, suddenly the sky once again seems the limit for Miguel Cotto.

    Yes, the very same Cotto who lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May 2012 and then followed it up seven months later with an even more one-sided verdict against Austin Trout that seemed to signal the end of the Puerto Rican's days in legitimate title conversation.

    Four knockdowns and a punishment-induced corner stoppage of Sergio Martinez have dramatically changed the tenor of the chatter surrounding the 33-year-old Cotto, who became the first Puerto Rican to win belts in four weight classes140, 147, 154 and 160 pounds. He's also the first fighter to win championships at both ends of that spectrum, 140 and 160, since Oscar De La Hoya did it in 2004.

    The post-fight talk at Madison Square Garden, where Cotto is now 8-1, revolved around what could be next for a man who put on what he labeled as his best performance in 43 fights.

    "This is the biggest achievement of my professional career," he said.

    Click through to see our list of potential opponents going forward and feel free to drop in some comments of your own.

4. Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    It’s almost a reflex reaction. Whenever a fighter from 140 to 160 pounds wins a fight of significance, Floyd Mayweather Jr. automatically enters the running as a possible future opponent.

    The premise is more intriguing here because of the history between the two men, specifically their grueling 12-round match for the WBA 154-pound title two years ago that Mayweather won by unanimous decision on the eve of his three-month jail stint.

    Perception was that it was the roughest bout “Money” had endured in a while. So now that Cotto has raised the stakes into a weight class in which Mayweather has never fought, it makes logical sense to ponder the idea of doing it again with bigger marbles at stake.

    Whether it makes promotional sense is another question, and so long as Cotto is affiliated with Bob Arum, it’s probably not a concept that’ll get beyond the “what if?” stage. But it sure would be fun all of a sudden.

3. Gennady Golovkin

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    Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press

    Prior to Saturday night, the middleweight fight that most people wanted to see was a showdown between then-WBC champion Sergio Martinez and his IBO/WBA counterpart, unbeaten slugger Gennady Golovkin.

    So now that Martinez has been dethroned, the opposite side of the dream-fight scenario transfers to Cotto, who would certainly rank as the most decorated and most skilled opponent the thus-far dominant Kazakhstan native has ever faced.

    The idea of matching the two together came up at the post-fight press conference early Sunday morning, and Arum said the showdown was a possibility—provided Golovkin is successful in his next scheduled fight, in July against former IBF, IBO and WBA middleweight champ Daniel Geale.

2. Marco Antonio Rubio

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Into every list of big-name potential foes, a little mandatory must fall.

    Mexican veteran Marco Antonio Rubio was elevated to “mandatory challenger” status by the WBC late last year while waiting on a return from injury by Martinez, who then stalled Rubio even further by accepting the pay-per-view showdown with Cotto.

    Rubio is now the WBC’s interim champion at 160, and, provided Cotto wants to maintain the championship status he just attained, he’ll likely have to give at least some thought to facing Rubio in his initial defense—which Arum said would likely come in New York in December.

    It’s hardly the sexy option, but if part of the new Cotto allure is his title belt, it could be a necessary one.

1. Canelo Alvarez

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    USA TODAY Sports

    If you’re looking for the one big fight that will signal at least a thawing in boxing’s perpetual promotional Cold War, a battle between Golden Boy Promotions standard-bearer Canelo Alvarez and Top Rank’s newest old phenom—Cotto—could be the one.

    Golden Boy founder Oscar De La Hoya has said he’s open to working with former colleague Arum again, and the topic of Canelo vs. Cotto was also discussed amid the post-fight revelry on Saturday—so if it’s not the next literal fight for Cotto, it’s a fair bet that it will at least be the next big one, perhaps in the first half of 2015.

    The idea of matching the two is not a new one. In fact, Showtime boxing executive Stephen Espinoza mentioned the Martinez vs. Cotto winner as a possible future move for Alvarez while the young Mexican was preparing for his post-Mayweather comeback bout earlier this year against Alfredo Angulo.

    “Martinez, or Cotto if he wins, would be a great matchup,” Espinoza said.

    After Saturday, it seems like the perfect project on which De La Hoya and Arum could both bury the hatchet...and rake in a ton of cash.

     

    Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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