- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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With the news this week that Golden Boy has put Sept. 28 on hold at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the possible return of Miguel Cotto, it got me thinking -- if Cotto indeed fights, who should he face?
Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs), a former junior middleweight, welterweight and junior welterweight titleholder, will be coming off back-to-back decision losses in competitive and crowd-pleasing fights against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Austin Trout, and he'll be fighting for the first time since the Trout fight in December.
Cotto may not be what he was when he was at his wrecking-machine best, but he remains an excellent fighter who has never given anything less than 100 percent and been one of boxing’s biggest attractions for a reason -- he’s always in a good fight.
Because he works closely with Golden Boy Promotions it means there are a plethora of quality and interesting opponents for him. So here’s a look at some of the opponents I think might be possible, taking into account that he won’t be facing a Top Rank fighter and that a fight with junior middleweight champ Canelo Alvarez is unlikely because: (A) Alvarez may be facing Mayweather on Sept. 14 on Showtime PPV; (B) If Mayweather fight on Sept. 14, Showtime would not do PPV events two weeks apart and certainly if there’s even an Alvarez-Cotto fight it is a major PPV event; (C) Alvarez-Cotto almost certainly would take place in Las Vegas, not New York.
• Victor Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 KOs): This is my pick as the fight I’d like to see most other than Alvarez. Like Cotto, Ortiz, a former welterweight titlist, is also coming off back-to-back losses, stoppages against Mayweather and Josesito Lopez, against whom he suffered a severely broken jaw last June. While recovering from the jaw injury, Ortiz did a stint on “Dancing With the Stars” but is due back in the ring, most likely in September. So the schedules match. He also can certainly handle the move up to 154 pounds and a fight with Cotto would be nothing less than exciting. No doubt there would be drama too, because both men are typically in dramatic fights. It’s a can’t miss-action fight.
• Alfredo Angulo (22-2, 18 KOs): Cotto-Angulo could not possibly miss as an exciting action fight. It would also be an authentic Puerto Rico versus Mexico rivalry fight, which always generates heat. Angulo, although dangerous because of his power, is also one-dimensional enough that Cotto would be the favorite. Angulo, of course, would have to beat Erislandy Lara on June 8, and Angulo is the clear underdog in that fight. If Lara wins, I doubt Cotto would want to tangle with Lara’s difficult technical style, especially without a world title at stake.
• ”Kid Chocolate” Peter Quillin (29-0, 21 KOs): There’s been quiet word that Cotto might want to move up to middleweight and see what he can do. Quillin holds a title, is one of boxing’s most exciting and charismatic fighters and looking for the kind of fight to help him break out. Cotto would be a big underdog, but he has always taken on big challenges so maybe he would want to take a shot. Quillin, I’m certain, would take the fight in two seconds. It would also probably sell well given Cotto’s enormous New York/Puerto Rican fanbase combined with the fact that Quillin is a New Yorker. This fight intrigues me.
• Robert Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KOs): Sure, he was schooled by Mayweather on May 4 but so what? Guerrero is always up for fighting the best, usually involved in good fights and I think he and Cotto would be a good one. If Guerrero gets the fight, he just needs to make sure of one thing when he heads to New York -- leave the gun at home this time.
• Andre Berto (28-2, 22 KOs): The former welterweight titlist got beat up by Guerrero in a November decision loss in a great fight so he would have to beat Jesus Soto Karass, whom he meets June 27, to even have a prayer of landing the fight, although the turnaround might be a little quick, making him an unlikely foe. But if Berto looks OK against Soto Karass, why not a Cotto fight? Two big names, two action styles. Count me in.
• Ishe Smith (25-5, 11 KOs): If Cotto wants to try to pick up another 154 belt, Smith is out there. He would have to get past Carlos Molina on July 19, and coming back on Sept. 28 might be a little bit of a quick turnaround, but anything is possible. Smith is promoted by Mayweather’s company, which works closely with Golden Boy so from that point of view it is a fight that could be made. Not the best fight in the world, but not out of the realm of possibility in my view.
• Cornelius “K9” Bundrage (32-5, 19 KOs): He lost his belt to Smith in February, but it was competitive. If Cotto is looking to ease back into things and take a little bit of a lesser fight this one sticks out like a sore thumb. The 40-year-old Bundrage will come to fight but Cotto would be the favorite to win and then move into something bigger.