18 days ago, Floyd Mayweather (aka 'Money') announced that he will indeed fight again on September 13, 2014. This would be consistent with his 2013 schedule where he fought in May (Robert Guerrero) and September (Canelo Alvarez). However, Mayweather did not announce his future opponent and since then there have been a number of names thrown into the mix to be the 47th opponent for boxing's best pound-for-pound fighter. Here are a few names that are getting airtime:
Khan believed he was going to get the May fight with Mayweather, and actually passed up a big fight with Devon Alexander in anticipation of the mega-fight. Unfortunately for Khan, Marcos Maidana's destruction of Adrien Broner (an undefeated champion and self-proclaimed heir to Mayweather's throne) combined with a strong Argentinian fan following made Maidana a much more desirable fight. Khan actually fought on the undercard of the May 3rd Mayweather - Maidana card and thoroughly dominated Luis Collazo. The issue with Khan getting the September 13th fight with Mayweather is his need to fast for Ramadan. Boxers, especially at this level, need to be in tip-top physical shape in the months leading up to the fight (unless you're Ricky Hatton). Khan does enjoy a very loyal and strong British following, although probably not to-the-extent of Ricky Hatton, and many believe his speed and overall 'boxing' talent could give Mayweather problems. And let's not forget, Khan survived a very tough fight against Marcos Maidana to score a victory. But, he's also suffered two brutal knockouts. In the end, the Ramadan issue likely takes Khan out-of-the-running for the September 13th Mayweather fight.
The fight that a lot of people want to see is the one they just saw - a rematch between Mayweather and Maidana. After the fight, there was much talk about a rematch, especially given the general perception that Maidana came the closest to dethroning Mayweather since Jose Luis Castillo in April-2002 (a controversial unanimous decision that many believed Castillo had won). A rematch with Maidana was looking promising up until the Pay-Per-View (PPV) numbers were finally confirmed for the May 3rd fight. The fight proved to be a huge disappointment coming in right around 900,000 buys. 900,000 PPV buys would be dazzling for nearly any other prize fighter, but for Mayweather and Showtime, it's simply not good enough. Last year, it was rumored that after Mayweather's fight with Robert Guerrero failed to dazzle with the PPV crowd (buys rumored to be between 900K and 1M), Showtime urged Mayweather to take on Canelo Alvarez - an undefeated champion that many saw as a 'risky' fight for Mayweather. In the end, the Alvarez fight set the all-time PPV record (in terms of $ generated) with 2.2M buys and Mayweather thoroughly dominated Alvarez. Showtime is likely singing the same tune this time around and urging Mayweather to take a fight that will generate a huge PPV number to 'even out' the year.
Miguel Cotto is one of the most interesting fighters of the past decade - he's suffered a number of losses, but always commands an incredible amount of respect both from the media and other fighters. I've actually never heard another boxer say anything negative about Cotto; he is frequently referred to as "tough", "a warrior", and a "champion". Cotto built up an incredibly strong record, scoring 32 straight victories to start his career. He then lost a very controversial fight to Antonio Margarito - a brutal fight in which Margarito was likely aided by plaster blocks in his gloves, which was revealed right before the Margarito - Mosley fight in January 2009.
Nonetheless, Cotto continues to be a very formidable box office draw. His Puerto Rican following is huge and likely exceeds that of which Felix Trinidad enjoyed in his prime. Cotto's home-turf is Madison Square Garden in New York where he enjoys the support of a raucous crowd. The other compelling aspect of Cotto is that he's already fought Mayweather (May-2012) and although he lost a unanimous decision, he battered Mayweather like nobody else we've ever seen - 'Pretty Boy' was not so pretty coming out of that fight. Mayweather admitted after the fight that Cotto was the toughest guy he's ever fought. Additionally, Mayweather points to the Cotto fight as the impetus to bring his father back to his corner - Floyd Mayweather Sr. is renowned for his 'defense-first' boxing strategy. The Cotto fight was Mayweather's last appearance on HBO before moving over to Showtime and generated a very healthy 1.5M PPV buys. Cotto will jump into the ring tonight against WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, which likely would still give him enough of a rest for a September fight.
The Likely Choice
A Miguel Cotto victory over Sergio Martinez tonight would all but solidify a rematch with Floyd Mayweather in September and perhaps his last huge payday. Additionally, there are ways that Showtime and 'The Money Team' could increase the appeal of the fight:
- Weight: It would be very interesting for this fight to take place at the 160-lb middleweight limit. Mayweather fought Maidana at welterweight (147-lb), but we know that Mayweather can definitely get up to over 160 lbs. Additionally, Mayweather already holds a junior middleweight belt (154-lb). Cotto is a naturally bigger fighter so forcing Mayweather up to 160 could be very intriguing.
- Venue: Mayweather has fought nearly all of his major fights at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Vegas. He has often expressed a desire to fight in other places, but that's never materialized. Mayweather lives and trains in Vegas, so a fight at Madison Square Garden in front of what would be a very raucous Puerto Rican crowd could be another variable that would add to the public's appetite.
Should Cotto lose to Martinez tonight, I think he would likely lose the chance at the September Mayweather fight. People have already questioned whether the 33-year old Cotto is 'washed up' and way past his prime, which is ironic because Mayweather will be close to his 38th birthday in September.
For what it's worth, I am hoping for a Mayweather - Cotto II at 160 lbs at Madison Square Garden. That would be a unique set of circumstances for boxing's biggest attraction.
- T.C. Schiller