Unable to come to a financial agreement on his next fight, Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto, one of boxing’s biggest names for most of the past 20 years, and promoter Roc Nation Sports have parted ways, multiple sources told ESPN on Thursday.
Cotto had been in training camp with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach at his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, preparing for a fight against Japanese journeyman Yoshihiro Kamegai (27-3-2, 24 KOs) that was tentatively scheduled for June 24.
However, Cotto left camp in recent days when the fight — which had not yet been formally announced — was canceled.
The Cotto-Roc Nation Sports separation was amicable but came about because they simply could not agree on the money Cotto should be paid for the fight, a source with knowledge of the situation said. Cotto, the source said, wanted way more than Roc Nation Sports was willing to guarantee for such a marginal fight that likely would have lost money.
Kamegai, who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, had already signed a contract for the fight, but it was contingent upon Cotto signing, which he hadn’t, and there being a television outlet for the bout, which there wasn’t. HBO, Cotto’s longtime television home, was not interested in the Kamegai fight unless Cotto had a major fight lined up after it, which he did not, according to a source.
There also was no set site for the fight, although Roc Nation Sports was looking at venues in Puerto Rico and Miami as well as the 12,000-seat Ford Center at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility in Frisco, Texas.
After knocking out Sergio Martinez in the 10th round in June 2014 to win the middleweight world championship, Cotto split from longtime promoter Top Rank and signed with Roc Nation Sports, the company owned by music star Jay Z, with much fanfare in 2015.
Cotto and Roc Nation Sports wound up doing only two fights together, Cotto’s lone successful middleweight title defense — a fourth-round knockout of Daniel Geale in June 2015 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York — and Cotto’s title loss to Canelo Alvarez by decision in their November 2015 mega fight at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Cotto has not fought since the loss to Alvarez. He was initially scheduled to return to face brawler James Kirkland at the Ford Center at The Star, on Feb. 25 in the main event of an HBO PPV card. However, the show was canceled when Kirkland suffered a fractured nose during his training camp.
There were efforts to make a Cotto fight against either Juan Manuel Marquez or Timothy Bradley Jr., both former world champions with big names, but neither deal could be made, leaving Cotto and his team looking at the smaller fight with Kamegai in order for Cotto to get back into the swing of things after such a long layoff.
The 36-year-old Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs), a lock for the International Boxing Hall of Fame, was a 2000 Olympian and is the only Puerto Rican boxer to win world titles in four weight divisions, doing so at junior welterweight, welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight. He has also fought a who’s who of top opponents, including Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Alvarez, Martinez, Antonio Margarito (twice), Shane Mosley and Zab Judah.
A Roc Nation Sports spokesman declined to comment to ESPN. Cotto’s representative could not be reached for comment.
Source: Dan Rafael, ESPN