The hearts of boxing fans everywhere are rightfully aflutter with anticipation for this weekend's collision between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto. It's not hard to see why, because the fight features two popular champions from different countries who almost always bring crowd-pleasing action to their fights.
Pacquiao is the betting favorite (-300 at BetUS.com as of this morning) and seems like he can do no wrong right now. He's defeated some big names in his last few fights in impressive fashion, rapidly and successfully switching weight classes along the way.
With his speed, power, and ever-improving boxing skills, Pac Man is the popular pick to win the bout as well. In some corners, it's almost a foregone conclusion that he'll beat Cotto, with fans already breathlessly discussing a possible showdown with Floyd Mayweather for pound-for-pound supremacy.
In other words, a lot of people appear to be looking past Cotto. That's a mistake, because even though this writer also thinks Pacquiao will win, it won't be a complete shock if he doesn't. At the very least, Cotto should prove the stiffest test Pac Man has had in quite some time.
So let's say that Cotto surprises the pundits and pulls off the victory. How would the fallout rearrange the boxing landscape for 2010?
For starters, you could forget about Mayweather-Pacquiao, at least for the time being. It wouldn't make sense for Floyd to fight Manny coming off a loss—or dollars either, and that's always a consideration.
That would make Cotto as likely as anyone to be Mayweather's next opponent. He'd be an even bigger name coming off an upset over Pacquiao, but not so big that he'd demand too much of the revenue.
Big money, a favorable split, and a credible foe would make a tempting proposition for Mayweather, and though Cotto has said he didn't think he was ready to face Floyd earlier in his career, he'd likely feel differently after defeating Manny.
If Mayweather went a different direction, Cotto would still have plenty of options. He could wait out the winner of January's Shane Mosley-Andre Berto fight or plan for revenge against Antonio Margarito, secure that he'd have some extra leverage in the negotiations.
As for Pacquiao, a loss wouldn't be the end of the world. He'd have his acting and singing pursuits to keep him occupied while he licked his wounds, and he's said to be contemplating another run at public office.
He'd still be a huge draw when he made his return to the ring, and that return could very well come against arch enemy Juan Manuel Marquez, who's been spoiling for another shot at Pacquiao for some time. JMM has a higher profile among the general public after he tangled with Mayweather earlier this year, and the fact that both men would be trying to rebound from losses would only add to the intrigue.
So if Miguel Cotto has his hand raised in victory early Sunday morning, it will raise some eyebrows and throw a monkey wrench in plans for the sport's next megafight.
But a couple other big matches would undoubtedly still be the end result, and for boxing fans, that's never a bad thing.
Nick Tylwalk is the editor and co-founder of BoxingWatchers.com , where this article originally appeared .