March 3, 2015
March 3, 2015
Miguel Cotto

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ALTHOUGH sports fans across the world rejoiced at the news that the two best boxers on the planet, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, will finally get it on, there are a couple of fighters who may be a little too busy to celebrate.

Amir Khan and Miguel Cotto both missed out on fights with either of the mega-bout’s protagonists, meaning they now need to dig around the scraps left in its wake for opponents.

While Khan had made it clear he was willing to face either man, Cotto passed on a multi-million dollar showdown with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in the hope he would land a rematch with Mayweather.

Khan is no stranger to the waiting game though, having sought out a Mayweather fight since last year when he moved up to welterweight and trounced Luis Collazo on the undercard of ‘Money’s’ first fight with Marcos Maidana.

He was vocal in his intentions before Mayweather’s announcement that he would fight Maidana a second time, and eventually agreed to a fight which had previously been mooted – with former world champion Devon Alexander.

After another impressive display at 147lbs, Khan immediately returned his gaze to the world’s No. 1 fighter, although this time he had widened his vision to also include the world’s No.2, Pacquiao.

He spoke of his willingness and desire to face either man, insisting that they were both afraid to face him.

When asked about the only other welterweight world champion besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Kell Brook, Khan would acknowledge the Sheffield man’s existence before returning his attention to the big guns.

Cotto, on the other hand, appeared to turn down a fight in order to keep himself free for another ride on the Mayweather rollercoaster.

After wrenching the WBC middleweight crown from Sergio Martinez last year, Cotto had myriad options, most prominently a fight with Alvarez.

Talks began and, as time passed, it seemed increasingly likely that the two would meet in a much anticipated clash, with a June date pencilled in.

However, as news that Mayweather-Pacquiao negotiations were stalling, Cotto smelt the chance for revenge and did some stalling of his own, much to the chagrin of Alvarez and his team.

Alvarez, backed by promoter Oscar De La Hoya, eventually moved on and the redheaded Mexican will face James Kirkland the week after Mayweather-Pacquiao.

Now, after Mayweather and Pacquiao have agreed to meet on May 2, Khan and Cotto are left out in the cold. Or are they?

As marketable free agents, they both have the rare advantage of being able to choose which broadcaster or promotional banner they work with and, thus, who they fight.

They are also both coming off the back of big wins, as mentioned, further adding to their marketability and widening their pool of choice.

On closer inspection, however, it seems Khan may be the only one with a legitimate range of options.

In a deep welterweight division, there are plenty of impressive scalps ready for the taking including the likes of former Pacquiao foes Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Chris Algieri.

In his guest column in Boxing News, Khan expressed an open interest in fighting each of these names.

Although a fight with compatriot Brook is the stand-out fan favourite on these shores for Khan’s next fight, the IBF champion defends his belt on March 28, making a May meeting with Khan almost impossible.

Regardless of his opponent, Khan may even have the perfect stage for his next fight – a place on the Mayweather-Pacquiao undercard. Perhaps things aren’t so bad for him, after all.

Conversely, Cotto faces a much bleaker landscape.

While the middleweight division is by no means sparse of talent, there is only one name that keeps cropping up as his next opponent – undefeated WBA Champion and notorious career-wrecker Gennady Golovkin.

The power-punching Kazakh is now mandatory challenger for Cotto’s title, after bludgeoning Martin Murray into submission last weekend.

The WBC have confirmed Cotto must defend his title against Golovkin – within three months of a prior voluntary defence.

That means Cotto, officially the lineal middleweight champion, can face an opponent of his choosing before squaring off with the man many consider to be the top 160-pounder around.

With a June date still in mind, Cotto’s team have bounced names like the aforementioned Bradley and Brandon Rios around – neither of which have ever competed at middleweight.

As Cotto’s new trainer, Freddie Roach, has previously stated, his fighter‘s career is too advanced for him to have any more ‘tune-up’ fights, meaning his next opponent will likely pose a legitimate threat to his world title.

What seems clear from the rhetoric coming from the Cotto camp is that this voluntary defence will likely be against one of the larger names from the welterweight, or super-welterweight division, rather than the one Cotto is actually champion of.

Which, conveniently, leads us back to Khan. Another name that the Brit mentioned in his list of desired opponents was Cotto’s, despite the difference in weight.

If Cotto insists on facing a smaller-than-middleweight challenger for his voluntary defence, then why not the other loser of the Mayweather-Pacquiao agreement?

It would mean Khan having to fight later than desired, considering such a fight could legitimately headline its own show and that Cotto is unlikely to settle for a May date.

As a guaranteed money spinner and a fascinating clash of styles, not many could turn their noses up at a Cotto-Khan fight, least of all the two fighters themselves.

Perhaps they can celebrate the Mayweather-Pacquiao announcement, after all.

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