• Steve Bunce

Time to unify

Steve Bunce June 10, 2014
Buncey's Boxing Podcast

Miguel Cotto won every second of every round to win the WBC middleweight title from Sergio Martinez in front of 20,090 people at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Now it gets interesting.

Cotto is brave enough, stupid enough and good enough to try and unite the middleweight division and give boxing what it so desperately needs: A unified champion at one of the 17 weights.

At welterweight, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao missed the golden moment several times and will continue to miss it, and no other champion at any weight appears to be seriously bothered about getting the four belts together in one fight.

Wladimir Klitshcko has talked about adding the WBC belt to his WBA, IBF and WBO belts, but he will be over 40 before the WBC heavyweight belt enters German airspace.

There is a chance the cruiserweight belts could be unified as all are owned by boxers based in northern Europe, but to be brutally honest I want a unification process that gets the Americans interested. I also want to see Serbian Marco Huck and Cuba's Yoan Pablo Hernandez get together in what would be a great trade fight. I once went to Copenhagen to see Johnny Nelson defend his WBO cruiserweight title - so trust me when I talk about trade fights!

Miguel Cotto dominated Sergio Martinez in New York at the weekend © Getty Images

At light-heavyweight broadcast politics will keep Adonis Stevenson, Sergey Kovalev and Bernard Hopkins in permanent rotation and isolation from each other's fists. At super-middleweight Andre Ward might have to fight with a handicap to give the rest a chance and that includes, by his own admission, Carl Froch.

The light-middleweights are intriguing with top fighters Saul Alvarez and Erislandy Lara fighting soon. I know the IBF's Carlos Molina, who has some serious US visa issues, and WBO champ Demetrius Andrade, who fights Blackpool's Brian Rose this Saturday, would be eager to join a unification event. The light-middles is a division of harsh have and have-not champions.

There are some good fights coming up at light-welter and lightweight and some good ones have taken place at the two weights during the last 12 months. Danny Garcia at light-welter has two belts and has beaten the division's other top fighter in Lucas Matthysse. However, there is the Russian Ruslan Provodnikov to come soon, I hope. The lightweight fight later this month between WBO champion Terrence Crawford and unbeaten and avoided Yuriorkis Gamboa is as good as it has ever been. We have, trust me, been blessed this year.

The eight weights from super-feather down to minimum weight include no fewer than eight world champions from Japan and several from Thailand. It is notoriously difficult to get good Japanese boxers out of Japan and the chances of getting any of the American-based champions from those eight weights to Japan is equally remote.

And so, I return to Cotto, the Prince of Puerto Rico and a world champion now at his fourth weight. Cotto has the WBC belt, Peter Quillin the WBO, Sam Soliman the IBF version and the unbeaten and lethal Kazak Gennady Golovkin the WBA bauble. It's rumoured that Golovkin has twice KO'd a shadow, he is that good.

There would be some problems getting the four aligned but it can be done and it would be financially worth it. Quillin is the potential problem because of his broadcast connections but the money should be enough for him to see sense and risk his belt. A final between Cotto and Golovkin would break records - it would be both one of the greatest trade fights ever and also one of the best fights for years.

I know that Cotto is the man to put legacy, his heart, desire and his sense of fighting history in front of all the nasty trivial factors that continue to deny boxing the showpiece fights that it deserves. Cotto can and he just might go for it.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.