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