(Images courtesy of Top Rank)
Strangely, much of that sentiment seems to have been reversed with one predictable win over journeyman Delvin Rodriguez (28-6).
Cotto, a former three-division world champion, impressively employed his trademark left hook to finish the overmatched Rodriguez in the third round.
While the performance was worthy of 'turn back the clock' comparisons to his earlier career, lets dispense with the elephant in the room; Delvin was not a sufficient test for Cotto. If it was not the opponent, why are boxing pundits so bullish on the ex-champion's future?
It's simple: he is free as a bird.
Unlike most fighters of his ilk, Cotto has no promotional or network encumbrances. Boxing fans could, realistically, see him in the ring with any high profile fighter from 147 to 160 lbs. in the near future.
How often has this been true of a boxer in recent years?
Answer: rare if not non-existent.
In a sport saturated with contractual impediments, Cotto's is a unique case, arising out of smart planning and good timing. Delvin Rodriguez may not have been a worthy opponent, but his style certainly allowed for an ideal showcase.
Time will tell as to whether this was an example of match making slight of hand, but at least for the moment, Cotto is drawing interest.
So who will Miguel Cotto's next fight be against?
Here are a few realistic scenarios for the seemingly rejuvenated 32 year old:
Rumor mills are abuzz at this possibility. Multiple reports have indicated that the sides have already discussed a middleweight showdown between lineal champion, Martinez and Cotto who would seek to become the first Puerto Rican to capture world titles in four divisions. Lou Dibella, Martinez's promoter, has ties to New York and has orchestrated many big events in the state.
Also, Cotto has a sizeable Puerto Rican following in New York and has sold out many major shows in, among other places; Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium. Aside from pitting two of the sport's top names against each other, this match up makes marketing sense in that it would take advantage of Miguel's native following in Dibella's back yard.
Still one of the biggest draws in the sport, Alvarez has very few options remaining at 154 lbs. His promoter, Golden Boy, has already matched him with their best in the 147 and 154 lbs. weight classes, so Canelo must consider a move to middleweight in order to avoid taking a step back in competition.
If Cotto captures Martinez's belt, a title defense against the Mexican mega star would be a ratings boon. Again, aside from the star power on both sides, the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico sub-plot always sells well.
With each Mayweather domination since, Cotto's performance in their May 2012 bout looks more and more impressive. Mayweather and promotional partner, Golden Boy, are running out of viable options at welterweight and super welterweight. Cotto was easily the most competitive of Mayweather's last 15 opponents, so a rematch would be somewhat compelling, even if Cotto were to fail in a prior match with Martinez.
Speaking of dwindling options; unless the ice melts in the Mayweather or Marquez negotiations, Pacquiao really doesn't have a logical next step after Brandon Rios. Promoter, Top Rank, has stubbornly stonewalled its fighters from many potentially in-demand bouts against boxers promoted by other entities.
Cotto, who has a good relationship with Top Rank, was competitive with Pacquiao in the early rounds of their 2009 bout before succumbing to the prime Pacquiao's power. With passing time and with Manny's invincibility having been dashed, this rematch has potential. Cotto is unlikely to return to 147lbs, but Pacquiao has fought as high as 150lbs, so a catch weight should be reachable.
Given their newfound friendship and the fact they share the same trainer, Freddie Roach, a rematch isn't likely anytime soon.
If Martinez and Cotto meet, the winner is a logical opponent for WBA middleweight champion, Golovkin. Cotto and Golovkin have strong relationships with HBO, which makes this one realistic, though probably not Cotto's most attractive option at the moment.
Golovkin is dangerous and as yet, not in the same marketing stratosphere as those mentioned above.
So, what are we to make of Cotto's myriad of options?
First of all, his best move was to save his battles for the ring.
By not aligning himself with a single promoter or network, he has avoided the gridlock, which has come to dictate most fighters' career plans.
Let's face it, there are many more attractive fights that would not involve Cotto, but at the moment those are nothing more than a dream because of the promotional cold war. So, in the absence of logic, reason and calmer heads prevailing, boxing fans turn their lonely eyes to an old horse for one final sprint to the finish.
Cotto vs Rodriguez Highlights