Miguel Cotto vs. Juan Manuel Marquez: Could it Work?

By Max Lom - Lineal lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez didn’t take long to call out one of the top names in the sport, Floyd Mayweather, following his phenomenal knockout victory over Juan Diaz in Houston on Saturday night. And while the Mexican warrior, who has been through countless wars leading up to his latest battle, may not quite be able to bring enough money to the table to entice the former pound-for-pound king out of retirement, another top welterweight and proven ticket-seller could provide a perfect match-up for Marquez if he is indeed looking to move up in weight after cementing his place as the world’s top lightweight..

As soon as Marquez announced his intention to move up, the idea of a fight with WBO welterweight champion Miguel Cotto began to grow on this observer, as almost every element of a good fight seemed to fit this potential match-up. Having fought last weekend against a pedestrian opponent, Cotto is in the market for an opponent for a June 13th date at Madison Square Garden, and the Mexican may be the perfect opponent for that event.

In the past, Cotto and his promoter Top Rank have used the mid-June date as a showcase for the Puerto Rican fighter on the eve of the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City. If he wasn’t before Saturday night, then Marquez is certainly now the highest-rated Mexican fighter in the world, and if the two were to meet on this special date, it would be a terrific installment in the famous Puerto Rico – Mexico boxing rivalry.

Both fighters have plenty of worthwhile alternatives to this fight. Cotto could fight the much-avoided Joshua Clottey or the undefeated and promising Andre Berto, while Marquez could elect to remain at lightweight and defend his belts, or challenge a host of worthy fighters at junior-welterweight, including Ricky Hatton or a third fight with Manny Pacquiao. But none of these fights would provide the excitement, both in and out of the ring, which would accompany a Cotto-Marquez bout.

Just imagine the scene at Madison Square Garden if these two were to meet. Thousands of Puerto Rican fans can be counted on for any Cotto event, and with Marquez in the opposite corner, you can expect several thousand Mexican fans to be in the building as well. The fight would make for a great edition of HBO World Championship Boxing, and could even justify pay-per-view status if coupled with a good co-feature, and decent under-card.

With the Hatton-Pacquiao fight just a month prior to the June 13th date, and Ring Magazine welterweight champion Shane Mosley still looking for a fight, the winner of Cotto-Marquez could use that result as a launching pad for an even more lucrative fight against one of those three as well.

As for the fight itself, the styles of both fighters could yield a contest that would be similar in nature to the war that Cotto and Antonio Margarito staged last summer in Las Vegas. In that fight, it was Cotto’s skill against the swarming, tough-as-nails Mexican who’s superior size and iron chin (and questionable hand-wraps according to some) led him to a memorable victory. Marquez has many of the same gritty boxing traits that Margarito and so many other Mexican champions have displayed in the past.

Unlike Margarito, however, Marquez would not enjoy a significant size advantage against Cotto, and the former featherweight champion’s chin has gotten him in trouble in the past, including two disputed 12-rounders against Manny Pacquiao which would have been decided in the Mexican’s favor if not for knockdowns suffered in both fights.

Even though Cotto has fought much of his career at least two weight divisions above Marquez, they stand at the same height (5 feet, 7 inches), and have the same reach (67 inches), so size would not play a big factor as long as Marquez would be able to bulk up sufficiently in time for the fight.

The biggest obstacle for this fight would likely be getting opposing promotional companies, Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, to come to an agreement involving two of the top fighters from their respective stables. It is very possible that Marquez could get a more lucrative offer for an easier fight that he would headline, but he has never been one to turn down a challenge, as evidenced by his willingness to defend his title in a potentially hostile Houston environment.

Similarly, Top Rank chief Bob Arum may be more inclined to have Cotto face stalemate Joshua Clottey instead of having to deal with his main rivals in the industry, and sharing in the commercial success that a June 13th Cotto card is almost sure to produce. Clottey would ask for much less money for the fight, MSG would still be packed, and HBO would be glad to broadcast a terrific fight.

But in a year where so much has gone right for the sport of boxing, it is worth it to dream as big as possible, and as far as fights go, they don’t get much bigger than the top Puerto Rican fighter against the top Mexican fighter at the Mecca of boxing. If the numbers add up, let’s hope that all the parties involved realize the potential that this fight has in a year that is shaping up to be a renaissance for the fight game.

Article posted on 01.03.2009

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