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Cotto vs. Berto or Clottey?

By Matt Stein: after dismantling challenger Michael Jennings on Saturday night in an easy 5th round TKO victory, the question in the minds of many boxing fans is who will Miguel Cotto be facing next? Although many would love nothing better than to see Cotto face Paul Williams or fight a rematch with Antonio Margarito, it’s extremely doubtful that Cotto’s promotional team would want to risk putting him with such tough fighters like these.

At the same time, Cotto has said that he feels that Margarito should serve out his entire year-long license revocation without fighting at all, period, even in places like Mexico where Margarito appears to be permitted to fight. As such, Cotto immediately limits the amount of opponents that he can fight in the near future. However, there’s still a few decent fighters like Andre Berto and Joshua Clottey (35-2, 20 KOs), both welterweight champions in their regard and fairly talented as well.

Berto (24-0, 19 KOs), the WBC welterweight champion, would be the best opponent for Cotto, because Berto has the much more crowd pleasing style of fighting and at the same time, he’s deeply flawed as a fighter. In his last fight, he struggled badly to defeat former welterweight champion Luis Collazo by a 12-round unanimous decision in January.

Berto has had tough fights against David Estrada, Cosme Rivera and Miguel Angel Rodriguez, beating each of them but taking a lot of punishment in the process. However, it’s questionable whether Berto and his people would want to put him in with a dangerous puncher like Cotto, knowing that there would be a good chance that he’d lose to him. Berto has faced mostly limited competition in his short five year career. Against a fighter as good as Cotto, Berto might be in way over his head and would lose his WBC title.

Clotty, the IBF welterweight champion, is only marginally better than Berto. More of a six round fighter than a true 12-rounder, Clottey tends to fade quickly after around five or six rounds and generally coasts in the last six rounds. He’s been fortunate that he hasn’t fought a truly good welterweight since losing a lopsided decision to Antonio Margarito in December 2006.

Though Clottey has a nice record of 35-2, most of the wins have come against soft opposition without much ability. Of the quality fighters he’s faced, there’s only a small handful that are worth mentioning, namely an older Diego Corrales, Richard Gutierrez, Zab Judah and Margarito. Judah was looked to be too small and ended up fading after getting a good start in their fight in August 2008 for the vacant IBF welterweight title.

Both choices are bad, but if obviously Berto is the better of the two. The problem here is that a fight against Berto probably won’t be on the table for Cotto. In that case, Cotto needs to try and make a fight against Shane Mosley happen, even if it means having to travel to Las Vegas or Los Angeles to make it happen. Cotto narrowly beat him last time out and I suspect he could repeat that in a rematch. The fight would make more money than fights against either Berto or Clottey, and be a lot more interesting for fans to watch as well.

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