Sunday, March 26, 2023  |



Cotto on Top Rank: ‘I expect respect and I didn’t receive it’

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

He is one of the top three fighters in the sport in the area that matters most of the time: revenue generation. Miguel Cotto is a tried and true attraction and that fact led neophyte promotional entity Roc Nation Sports to target the 34-year-old hitter, who holds the RING and WBC middleweight straps.
On Thursday, the boxer told the world he signed on with Roc for a multi-fight, multi-year deal, terms undisclosed, which he believes will serve him through the end of his career and beyond. In New York City to speak to select media, the fighter told us that Roc showed him the “respect” he needed at this time in his career, thus that’s why he decided to hook up with Jay Z and company. Cotto (39-4 with 32 knockouts) was headed over to speak to the mogul after the luncheon at the tony 21 Club.
Roc Nation president Michael Yormark said that Cotto’s deal, in concert with the presence of 168-pound stud Andre Ward, serves notice that Roc means business. He, along with Roc Boxing COO and Roc Nation Sports President Juan Perez, said Cotto will be a sturdy pillar to what Roc wants to do in the space and that the fighter will enjoy an unprecedented ability that Roc has proven to deliver in various sporting arenas to build brands.
Roc and Cotto Promotions will work together for six shows in Puerto Rico this year, we’ve heard.
And who and when will Cotto, whose last bout was a seventh round TKO win over Sergio Martinez last June, fight next? June 6 is the targeted date, in NYC, whether it be at Madison Square Garden or at Barclays Center. The fighter, along with his adviser Gaby Penagaricano, are elusive and cerebral in their negotiating and messaging. So he wasn’t about to drop too much in the way of specifics on what comes next. Amir Khan is a possibility, he said, though we’ve heard Cornelius Bundrage, in a 154-pound fight, is a distinct possibility. What about Gennady Golovkin at 160? Cotto didn’t close the door but said he would do what is best for his family. That is indeed a “big fight,” he noted. I get the drift that maybe it is in the cards – but not right away. The fighter didn’t specify how much longer he will fight on but said he thought he’d quit at 30, and he will be 35 in October, so the plan is flexible, basically.
On what platform will you watch the next Cotto tangle? HBO might not be inclined to show a Cotto fight after he spurned Top Rank Promotions, their primary content partner, I’d guess. Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza told me he’d be open to having Cotto on his cabler, given the right foe. Roc COO David Itskowitch told us Roc will announce TV “platforms” in the coming weeks and that a Roc show will run on FOX Sports 1 at the end of April. Andre Ward will debut for Roc in “late spring,” he said. “We will build around them,” Yormark added.
Cotto smiled broadly and the room erupted in laughter when I asked if the “music” element referred to as being part of this deal included Cotto singing, as Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao have. No, he said, “I know my limits!”
Cotto’s face turned stern when he referenced the fracture with Top Rank, his longtime promoter. “I expect respect and I didn’t receive it,” he stated. “Roc Nation showed respect.”
It is clear that whatever the terms are, they encompass years beyond when Cotto’s active fighting span ends. Roc will kick in to his philanthropic fund and help him build out his, and their, rosters of fighters. All in all, the boxer made a move he believes will most benefit the financial security for him and his family.
Woods is a Brooklyn-based writer who is first vice president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.