Former three-division champion Miguel Cotto has formally turned down an offer of more than $10 million to face former junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez to instead continue negotiating the other major fight on the table for him, a shot at middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez on June 7, albeit for less money.
During a recent meeting, Cotto's attorney Gaby Penagaricano told Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer, Alvarez and his managers, Chepo and Eddie Reynoso, that Cotto was declining the offer to face Alvarez on March 8 in the main event of a Showtime pay-per-view card.
Cotto's wanting to fight in New York on the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day parade and wanting a shot at the middleweight title, rather than facing Alvarez in a nontitle bout in March, were the reasons, Penagaricano said.
"Essentially, Miguel only wants to fight in New York City on June 7," Penagaricano said. "Canelo wants to fight in March. It seems that each fighter wanted to maintain the date for their next fight. So that is what is going to happen. Obviously, assuming everything goes well for both, I am sure Cotto versus Alvarez will be a fight worth discussing in the future.
"Regarding Canelo, [Cotto] said that Canelo is young and that perhaps it is a good fight to make later in 2014 or 2015, that if he keeps winning, there in no reason why we can't make the fight down the road."
Alvarez, who lost his 154-pound title to Floyd Mayweather Jr. by lopsided decision in a unification bout in their September record-breaking pay-per-view blockbuster, still will return March 8. With Cotto out of the picture, Alvarez likely will face Mexican countryman and brawler Alfredo "Perro" Angulo, according to Schaefer.
The 33-year-old Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs), meanwhile, is seeking to finalize the deal with Martinez, opting to take less money for the shot at the title.
At a recent media lunch in his native Puerto Rico, Cotto said, "I want to go with Martinez. The title is the main goal. We are only waiting on confirmation from his team, and, if all goes well, the fight will happen. The date is June 7, and I would rather fight where my history is, Madison Square Garden. I believe that the fight with Canelo is premature right now. He is 23 years old, and his name will be around for a long time."
Top Rank would serve as Cotto's promoter for a fight with Martinez, which would be an HBO PPV event. Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said the fight would be at Madison Square Garden or MetLife Stadium, which is in East Rutherford, N.J, just across the Hudson River from New York.
Cotto already has won world titles at junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight. A victory against Martinez would make him the first Puerto Rican fighter to win belts in four weight divisions. That is something Cotto said he coveted when he was first questioned about it immediately after his third-round knockout victory against Delvin Rodriguez in their junior middleweight bout Oct. 5.
"To be the first Puerto Rican to win titles in four weight divisions would be very tempting to me," said Cotto, whose win over Rodriguez ended a two-fight losing streak to Mayweather and Austin Trout in 2012.
A fight with Martinez is also something Freddie Roach, who trained Cotto for the first time when he faced Rodriguez, is interested in, saying after the fight with Rodriguez, "I know his style pretty well, and I think I know how to beat Sergio Martinez."
Roach was on the losing end to Martinez in September 2012 when his fighter, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., lost a lopsided decision, although Chavez scored a knockdown in the final round.
The Martinez and Cotto camps have been talking for a few weeks but have not made a deal yet.
"We've been talking. We've exchanged our concepts on how the deal will work but nothing is done yet," Lou DiBella, Martinez's promoter, told ESPN.com. "It's Christmas time and New Year's. We're not chasing any deals right now. But after the holidays, we'll continue to talk. June 7 is perfect for Sergio and Sergio wants to fight Miguel, but he also wants a deal that is fair to both sides. He wants to be treated like the champion he is and be respected in any deal."
DiBella said one thing that had not been ironed out was exact weight for the proposed fight with Cotto, who would be moving up from 154 pounds. Martinez has said he would move down a few pounds to meet Cotto at a catch weight if necessary.
"If you look at the physicality of Martinez, he has never been a true 160-pound fighter," Cotto said at the recent media lunch. "He's always weighed in at 157, 158 pounds. Rarely does he ever come in at 160. So he's not a real middleweight."
Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs), 38, of Argentina, fought only once in 2013, getting knocked down but winning a close unanimous decision in a homecoming fight in front of a crowd of some 50,000 at a soccer stadium in Buenos Aires against interim titlist Martin Murray of England.
Martinez entered the fight having not fully recovered from the knee surgery he needed after the fight with Chavez. Martinez underwent a second procedure after the Murray bout and has not yet resumed training.
Penagaricano said that if no deal is made for a Martinez-Cotto fight that Cotto would face somebody else June 7.