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Fight's result affects division

July 28, 2008|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Antonio Margarito's dismantling of Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand on Saturday laid waste to more than just Cotto's unbeaten record and his goal of unifying the welterweight title. It also changed the landscape of the division, leaving a number of proposed matchups now unlikely and sending several fighters scrambling for opponents.

Although it will take some time for the dust to settle, gone, apparently, is any hope of a big-money bout between Oscar De La Hoya and Cotto. But De La Hoya, according to Margarito's manager, isn't warm to the idea of fighting Margarito, which leaves him without a foe for his retirement fight, scheduled for Dec. 6 at the MGM.

"We really don't think De La Hoya will fight us," Sergio Diaz Jr. said Sunday. "We'll start to hear the excuses. He's really going to work to choose his next fight. He wants to retire, but he doesn't want to retire hurt."

Cotto, meanwhile, may not fight again before the end of the year, which would push an already discussed rematch with Margarito into the spring. He spent three hours in the hospital after Saturday's punishing loss, his first in 33 pro fights, and though all the tests were negative, Cotto said he wants to take some time off to reevaluate his career.

One intriguing possibility for De La Hoya is a fight with lightweight champion Manny Pacquiao, boxing's best pound-for-pound fighter according to Ring magazine. Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 knockouts), dominated the super-featherweight division before moving up to 135 pounds. And after knocking out David Diaz in his last fight to win his fourth different weight-class title, he could be ready to step up again.

What's more, Pacquiao is without an opponent for his next scheduled bout, Nov. 15 in Las Vegas, while for De La Hoya a matchup with the Filipino would give him a name opponent for his going-away party.

Richard Schaefer, chief executive of De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, was vacationing in Europe and not available for comment Sunday.

Margarito, the newly crowned World Boxing Assn. champion, plans to meet in two weeks with promoter Bob Arum to discuss his next move. On Saturday, Arum threw out the possibility of a bout with Shane Mosley should Mosley beat Nicaraguan Ricardo Mayorga on Sept. 27. That's a fight people close to Mosley say the former world champion really wants.

But Sergio Diaz said he'll press for a fight with Zab Judah if Judah beats Joshua Clottey on Saturday in a fight for the International Boxing Federation title Margarito vacated.

Lurking as the wild card in all this is Floyd Mayweather Jr., the undefeated six-time world champion who abruptly announced his retirement in June as his camp was negotiating a fight with De La Hoya.

"Tony's going to take a break but we'd really like a fight before the end of the year," Diaz said. "We are open to a rematch but Cotto may not fight for a while. There could be a unification bout."

Whenever and whoever Margarito fights, he'll go in as the favorite, a big step for a fighter who was often considered one loss from journeyman status despite an aggressive, hard-punching style that produced two world titles even before he grabbed a third off Cotto's head.

"Tony's really happy," Diaz said of his fighter, who floored Cotto twice in the 11th round after the Puerto Rican had gone 32 fights with only one knockdown. "He came prepared for this type of fight, this type of war [because] we knew Cotto has a big heart.

"We've always known Tony was a good fighter. But nobody would give us an opponent."

Now trying to find an opponent is something the rest of the division will be struggling with as well.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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