Who Should Be Miguel Cotto's Last Opponent?
Published: September 28, 2017
By the time 2017 is over it will be remembered as one of the best years the sport of boxing has had in some time. The year has been full of big events like Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko and Canelo-Golovkin and cards that provided action from top to bottom like HBO’s “SuperFly” card. The sport has also gotten unprecedented coverage and exposure in the mainstream sports media this year. Boxing promotional company Top Rank signed a deal this year giving sports channel ESPN exclusive coverage of their fights. More importantly, than all these factors is that 2017 has been the year where boxing has transitioned to a new era. The Mayweather-Pacquiao era is now over for the most part with many fighters announcing their retirement such as Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley, Floyd Mayweather, Wladimir Klitschko and most recently Andre Ward.
One more fighter of the last era has announced that 2017 will be the last year of his career. Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) will reportedly fight for the last time in 2017. In his last fight, this past August; Cotto won the vacant WBO Super Welterweight (154) championship against Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai (27-4-2, 24 KOs). With a world title in hand, Cotto looks to have his final bout in his second home of New York City in December. The Puerto Rican will look to fight on December 2nd at the famed Madison Square Garden where he has had some of the biggest fights of his career. This will mark the 10th time Cotto has fought at Madison Square Garden. The date and the venue seem to have already been taken care of; now the attention turns to who will be the final opponent in the Puerto Rican’s career.
DAVID LEMIEUX (38-3, 33 KOs)
The opponent that has been mentioned at the highest rate for Cotto is Canadian puncher David Lemieux. Facing a puncher like Lemieux is a significant risk for Cotto at this stage of his career, but could provide for an exciting night of action as a send-off to his career. Lemieux earlier this year scored a devastating one-punch knockout over middleweight contender Curtis Stevens. Afterward, The Montreal, Quebec native won a unanimous decision over the tough Marcos Reyes on the undercard of Canelo-Chavez Jr. in May. Lemieux also has the same promoter as Cotto in Golden Boy Promotions making negotiations easier than most.
In Lemieux’s biggest fight of his career in 2015 against Gennady Golovkin at Madison Square Garden the event was sold out and at the time set a record for the fastest sell-out at the venue in boxing history. With his contingency of fans willing to travel to New York from Canada, a fight between Cotto and Lemieux could mean fireworks in the ring and at the box office.
MIKEY GARCIA (37-0, 30 KOs)
WBC lightweight (135) champion Mikey Garcia has brought up on multiple occasions that he is willing to once again move up in weight to meet Cotto at 154-pounds. Garcia, recently moved up to 140-pounds from the lightweight division to face Adrien Broner this past July. Garcia won an impressive unanimous decision over Broner. However, a move up another two weight-classes to meet a veteran like Cotto would be a tall order for any fighter.
Garcia is taking a page out of the Sugar Ray Leonard book by not having a commitment with any one particular promoter and attempting to make the biggest fights possible throughout the boxing landscape. While Cotto-Garcia would likely be treated as a mismatch by most fans and experts, it has the potential of being a fight that captures the public’s interest similar to when Canelo Alvarez faced Amir Khan. The fight would also have the advantage of being promoted as another chapter in the storied rivalry between Mexico and Puerto Rico.
AMIR KHAN (31-4, 19 KOs)
For the last few years, former 140-pound champion Amir Khan has made it clear that he will only step into the ring for a big fight. Khan was last seen in the ring looking up at the lights after a right hand from Canelo Alvarez in May 2016. The U.K. native has not stepped in the ring since and has made more noise on Twitter for personal issues than anything else.
If Cotto is looking for an opponent who has a name and someone whom he has the potential to score a knockout against, Khan may be the fighter for the job.
An ideal opponent for Cotto would be with two of Khan’s fellow countrymen. This past April, Liam Smith (25-1-1, 14 KOs) and Liam Williams (16-1-1, 11 KOs) battled for the interim WBO 154-pound title. The two will meet in a rematch this November making a fight with Cotto for the winner highly unlikely.
BILLY JOE SAUNDERS (25-0, 12 KOs)
Cotto sat ringside at the Canelo-Golovkin fight a few weeks ago in anticipation of having a chance to fight the winner. When the fight was declared a draw it put that notion to an end for now. However, Cotto still has the opportunity to face another middleweight that fought the same night as Canelo and Golovkin in WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders.
The U.K. fighter defeated Willie Monroe Jr. (21-3, 6 KOs) the night Canelo-Golovkin took place by unanimous decision in a dreadful affair. Nevertheless, Saunders came out victorious still holding a portion of the middleweight crown. Cotto against Saunders would not be facing the biggest puncher and has a chance to add another title to his already star-studded ledger.
Fighters announcing their retirement one year and then making a return the very next year has become the status quo in boxing. A victory over Saunders for Cotto would give him some leverage if he decided to come back to the ring to face the winner of a Canelo-Golovkin rematch. Either way, going out in your last fight as a world champion is an honor not many receive.
ANTONIO MARGARITO (41-8, 27 KOs)
Tijuana, Mexico native Antonio Margarito began his comeback to the sport after a five-year hiatus in 2016. Margarito has fought exclusively in Mexico in his return to the ring. Earlier this month, he faced Carson Jones (40-12-3, 30 KOs) and was lucky to escape with a decision after the fight was stopped due to an accidental headbutt. Jones was starting to put a beating on Margarito before the fight was stopped giving the impression that Margarito was saved by some hometown favoritism.
Margarito at this point is still a pariah in the boxing world with many believing he benefited from cheating with loaded hand wraps for a majority of his career. The former welterweight champion from Mexico has not looked good in any of his returning bouts and seems to have lost his most redeeming characteristic, his chin.
A rubber match between Cotto and Margarito could be promoted as a grudge match, but at this point, Cotto and his fans may have lost interest. Cotto at this time would be favored to stop Margarito and possibly devastatingly stop him. This matchup could be made, as Cotto’s final fight is more about the event than the actual fight itself.
Whatever happens in Cotto’s last fight in December is inconsequential. Puerto Rico’s first four-division champion has already put in the work to have his name stamped in Canastota as a Hall-of-Famer. Cotto’s legacy as one of the best Puerto Rican fighters in history has been cemented. In December, fans will get the opportunity to watch one more time one of the most exciting fighters of this era perform in front of what should be a raucous Puerto Rican crowd.
Whom would you like to see Cotto face in December for his last fight? Let us know below.
(Feature Photo: Team Cotto)