RingTV.com has learned that WBA junior middleweight beltholder Miguel Cotto is the likely pick to face Manny Pacquiao in a return bout on June 9 in Las Vegas at either the Thomas & Mack Center or the MGM Grand.
Pacquiao scored a 12th-round stoppage of Cotto in November of 2009 to win the WBO welterweight title he currently holds. Since then, Cotto has stopped three consecutive opponents.
Reports earlier this week indicated Pacquiao’s likely choice to be Cotto, who was selected from among four other candidates comprised of Floyd Mayweather Jr., RING lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez, IBF/WBA junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson and WBO junior welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley.
Fans have been clamoring for a much-anticipated bout between WBC welterweight beltholder Mayweather and Pacquiao, who is coming off a disputed majority decision over Marquez last November.
But Mayweather is slated to begin an 87-day jail sentence staring on June 1, and has targeted May 5 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for his next bout.
Meanwhile, Arum and Koncz have dismissed that date for Mayweather-Pacquiao, citing their camp’s desire to construct a 40,000-seat, temporary outdoor venue near the Las Vegas Strip in late May or early-June to maximize revenue.
Arum told RingTV.com on Friday that an opponent already has been chosen for Pacquiao in the event that negotiations are not worked out for a clash with Mayweather, adding, “but nobody knows who that is except for me, Manny and Michael Koncz.”
There were also reports early last week that Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee, had publicly stated that her husband wanted a return bout with Cotto, whose rematch may depend o his ability to come down to 147 pounds.
Koncz would neither confirm nor deny Cotto’s selection on Friday.
“I’ve been with Manny in the Philippines since Jan. 10, and I’m leaving tonight to go back to America for meetings with Bob Arum in Las Vegas,” said Koncz, who said that he expects an announcement of Pacquiao’s opponent early next week. “There’s no affirmative decision made on our part yet, and that’s why I’m going back to the United States.”
After losing to Pacquiao, Cotto rose into the junior middleweight ranks for a ninth-round stoppage of Yuri Foreman for his present WBA belt in June of 2010. In March of last year, Cotto scored a 12th-round stoppage of ex-titleholder Ricardo Mayorga.
Last month, Cotto gained revenge with a 10th-round knockout of Antonio Margarito, whose 11th-round stoppage win dethroned Cotto as the WBA’s beltholder when Cotto was an unbeaten welterweight in July of 2008.
“Miguel Cotto has improved dramatically since he fought Manny the last time,” Koncz told RingTV.com earlier this month. “There was a lot of improvement demonstrated when Cotto fought Margarito.”
Cotto’s advisor, Gaby Penagaricano, was noncommittal in an earlier interview with RingTV.com about the prospect of facing Mayweather or Pacquiao.
“Either and both, as we said. Both are out there, both are big, big fights, and, I think that both would make very, very good business and very good fights for the fans. What is more accurate is that I know that for both Manny and Floyd, they are still option ‘A’ for each other,” said Penagaricano.
“I think that we will know very soon, definitely by next week, whether that ‘A’ option will be compromised or not. It’s all about May 5. That’s the date for the first fight between those two. If they’re not going to fight each other, Floyd is fighting on May 5. Whoe
Marquez told RingTV.com that he would like to take a tuneup fight on March 17 in a newly-constructed venue in Mexico City before perhaps rising a weight class to challenge Peterson.
Beltran said that he has been discussing the Marquez-Peterson possibility for The Dallas Cowboys’ Stadium with Arum.
“I think that a great place to do the Peterson fight would be with [Dallas Cowboys’ owner] Mr. Jerry Jones at the Dallas Cowboys’ Stadium,” said Beltran.
“I’ve been talking to my partner, Bob Arum, about it. It could be in Las Vegas. It could happen in July. If it’s April, then it could be in Mexico.”
A victory over Peterson would make Marquez only the second Mexican fighter to win a fourth title over as many different weight divisions, a mark that was first achieved in September when Erik Morales scored a 10th-round TKO over Pablo Cesar Cano for the vacant WBC junior welterweight belt.
“When everything settles down with Manny next week, I’ll talk to [Peterson’s manager and trainer] Barry [Hunter,] and if Barry likes the fight, there’s good money in it, hopefully, then we’ll make that fight,” said Arum earlier on Friday.
“But I want to make it plain that I haven’t talked to Marquez about it, and I haven’t talked to Barry about it. But I think that it would be a tremendous fight. I would love to make that match if one of them is not selected to fight Manny.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com