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Miguel Cotto opts to fight Austin Trout after turning down Manny Pacquiao

Miguel Cotto Miguel Cotto's only losses have come to Antonio Margarito (controversially), Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. (Eric Jamison/AP)

Junior middleweight Miguel Cotto will return to the ring Dec. 1 at Madison Square Garden against undefeated American Austin Trout, industry sources confirmed to SI.com.

Cotto (37-3) is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Floyd Mayweather in May. Cotto had been a candidate to face Manny Pacquiao in a rematch of Pacquiao’s electrifying knockout win in 2009. However, Cotto turned down an offer from Pacquiao’s camp earlier this week. Instead, Cotto will face Trout (25-0), a 26-year-old who defeated Delvin Rodriguez by unanimous, albeit dull, decision in June.

Though Cotto-Trout will likely be billed as a world title fight, it’s one on paper only. Mayweather is the WBA "super" champion, having won the belt from Cotto. Trout is the WBA’s "regular" champion; in a blatant cash grab, the sanctioning body elevated Cotto from "regular" champion to "super" champion in 2011, creating another title it can collect fees from.

The announcement of Cotto-Trout will have a domino effect: Pacquiao had been deciding between Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 as the date for his next fight. With Cotto locked into the former, Pacquiao will likely move to the latter in a rematch against Tim Bradley or a fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez.

-- Chris Mannix

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