Manny Pacquiao Needs To Make Choice: Miguel Cotto or Antonio Margarito?

Sean MorehouseCorrespondent IJuly 19, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - MARCH 13:  Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines looks on in the ring against Joshua Clottey of Ghana during the WBO welterweight title fight at Cowboys Stadium on March 13, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. Pacquiao defeated Clottey by unanimous decision.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Bob Arum deadline for Floyd Mayweather to sign on for a fall fight with Manny Pacquiao has come and gone. This has left the boxing community feeling a sick sense of deja-vu .  For the second time this year, a fight that makes sense to every fan from Manila to the MGM Grand doesn't seem to make sense to the combatants involved.

The first time, Pacquiao inexplicably balked over the drug testing protocol that Team Mayweather asked for.  This time, it's Mayweather who is hesitating, basically giving no reason better than, "I don't feel like it."

While the blame game can, and certainly will, be played by fans until it has been discussed to death, let's try and move forward.  Remember, boxing has been around since long before the Pacquiao/Mayweather saga, and it will be around long after.

The first step in our moving-on process involves Pacquiao's next opponent.  Arum has stated for a while now that Manny will be in the ring this fall, and barring a last minute change of heart by Mayweather, it will be against either Miguel Cotto or Antonio Margarito.

I'm not the first to say it, and I won't be the last, but allow me to beat a dead horse and discuss how bad of an opponent Margarito is.  On paper, Antonio Margarito (38-6-0, 27 KO) doesn't seem like the worst idea ever.  He's a former champion, a much bigger man than Pacquiao, and might have the kind of chin that could take whatever Manny would dish out. 

There is just one small problem.  Being caught with loaded gloves last year means that every single one of Margarito's 38 wins can now be called into question.  Forget all the recent talk about steroids—tampering with gloves in order to cause more damage is the single biggest cardinal sin in the sport of boxing.

Many people in the boxing community don't think that Margarito deserves to step in the ring with anybody ever again.  Almost nobody outside of the Arum household thinks he deserves the kind of pay day that he would get from a Pacquiao fight.

In another slap in the face to boxing, it has been reported that Margarito and Pacquiao would fight at 154 pounds for the vacant WBC light middleweight title.  That's right, Margarito, the biggest disgrace in the sport, would be fighting for a title that was stripped from deserving champion Sergio Martinez.  Remind me again why we put up with this sport?

If Pacquiao wants to expand on his record collection of divisional belts, how about fighting a real champion?  Well, there is one out there that is a possible opponent.  Miguel Cotto (35-2-0, 28 KO) holds a legitimate WBA belt at 154 after his win over former champion Yuri Foreman.

While Pacquiao handled Cotto with some ease last fall, there are two conditions that could make a rematch worth watching.  First of all, the fight being at 154 instead of 145 would seem to be a big advantage for the naturally bigger Cotto.  Secondly, Cotto looked much better than he had in recent years under new trainer Manny Steward.

While Cotto would still be a huge underdog in a fight with Pacquiao under any circumstances, he wouldn't put the bad taste in the mouths of boxing fans that Margarito would.  He also would allow Manny to claim a legit championship in an eighth weight division.

Basically, boxing fans should do whatever they can to beat the "anybody but Margarito" drum, and hope Bob Arum listens.