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Cotto Comes Home

(Photo © Mikey Williams / Top-Rank)
(Photo © Mikey Williams / Top-Rank)

By Steve Kim

As the calendar was turning to 2014, Miguel Cotto became the most coveted, unattached boxer in the world. Unlike most others, he was a free agent and not under an exclusive promotional pact. With that, there were two highly lucrative offers on the table for him: face Sergio Martinez on HBO Pay-Per-View or face Saul Alvarez across the street at Showtime.
Eventually, Cotto turned down the latter - and a reported eight-figure sum to face “Canelo” - to take on Martinez for the middleweight championship at the Madison Square Garden this weekend.
And his reasoning was very simple.

“I have a great relationship with Todd duBoef, “Cotto said of the current president of Top Rank Promotions and the heir apparent to Bob Arum. “I’m always one to talk with him first, talk about what’s next and if anything affects our relationship, I prefer not to do it.”
Cotto didn’t just choose the Martinez fight over Alvarez, he choose to reunite with duBoef and Top Rank, which promoted him from the time he turned pro in 2001 (after the 2000 Olympic Games) till 2011. “The way Todd treats me, treats my people, treats my company, makes me realize the grass here at Top Rank is the greenest.”
He added, “I’m really happy, really comfortable here and our relationship, Todd and I, is stronger than ever.”
After gaining revenge on Antonio Margarito in December of 2011, Cotto, whose contract with Top Rank had expired, decided to venture out on his own as he faced Floyd Mayweather several months later.
“That was a tough one,” admitted duBoef, who visited his friend/fighter in Los Angeles. “I was under the impression we would always have a relationship together. It was outlined to us that the relationship on a long-term basis, that he was going to look at other things. The only real option I saw there was the Mayweather fight, which they went ahead and pursued. So obviously, that was something that was very difficult for us. I didn’t think of Miguel Cotto as an ‘opponent,’ y’know?

“’And I wasn’t going to make him an opponent for Manny Pacquiao to try to get back in business with him or somebody like that, so I always knew the Mayweather fight was there. That ended up being the reason why he left to go and he was very classy about it. He sent me a wonderful text before they announced the fight and said, ‘I just wanted you to know this is a great opportunity. I’m making a lot of money.’”
DuBoef said they wouldn’t stand in the way of Cotto making the biggest guarantee of his career, which the Mayweather bout represented at the time. During the week leading up to that fight, Cotto actually used the Top Rank Gym and the two spent time together in Las Vegas. The belief was this would be a one-off and Cotto would resume his run with Top Rank. Instead, Cotto faced Austin Trout that December under the auspices of Golden Boy Promotions. 2012 was winless for Cotto as he lost to both Mayweather and Trout.
There were some harsh feelings from Top Rank but duBoef says, “I kinda hold myself responsible. I think I should’ve reached out to him, personally, earlier on to talk to him about what our relationship would be going forward and we talked about that after the first of [2013]. I went down to see him after the Trout fight; I said, ‘Listen, let’s get back to finish what we started.’”
As Cotto called again a few months later to talk about reuniting, duBoef cut short his African safari to see the fighter personally. By October, Cotto was playing to a packed house at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, once again under the Top Rank banner and the bright lights of HBO. But it wasn’t clear which direction Cotto would go moving forward. In many ways, he was the most prized possession in the boxing business (
“Y’know, being able to choose, pick which way I’m going to move is a blessing,” said Cotto, a couple of weeks ago at the downstairs portion of the Wild Card Boxing Club after his day’s training. “It’s just a blessing for my career and in 2011, I moved to Golden Boy to fight Mayweather, to fight Trout, and now I’m back because of my relationship with Todd duBoef. Our bond, our connection, just made me come back. We have great things between us and I know this is going to be a great compromise between us.”
“Once you have an authentic rapport with somebody and one that’s very genuine, it’s easy as long as you communicate well to have a successful relationship. I think he understood that,” said duBoef, who seemed uncomfortable when asked if Cotto was free to fight on both sides of the street. “I don’t want to comment on that, honestly. If he wants to talk about what he is or isn’t obligated, that’s up for him to do - not for me.”
When apprised of Cotto’s comments that he wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize their relationship, duBoef seemed taken aback. “That’s endearing...that’s endearing to hear somebody say that. That means a lot because you don’t find a lot of authentic people in this business that have that compassion for another person that recognizes that we have a wonderful relationship that’s able to overcome all the hurdles that are set up.”
The fact Cotto is so wed to Top Rank, really duBoef, will madden large segments of the fan-base who have had their fill of the “Cold War.” The Puerto Rican icon says of the division that exists in the sport, “It’s difficult those moments for the sport, having problems, troubles with networks and promotional companies. But I hope that the conversations with Bob Arum and Oscar De la Hoya get serious, finish the whole problem and make the best for the sport and for the fans.”
Can you blame someone for going back to a company that developed him into the signature draw at Madison Square Garden and a pay-per-view entity? A key component of their latest union is Top Rank aiding Cotto Promotions in Puerto Rico (this weekend’s less-than-stellar pay-per-view undercard is basically the responsibility of Cotto and Sampson Lewkowicz). You get the sense that while Cotto’s Hall of Fame career heads into the sunset, he’s thinking about the years long after he hangs up his Everlasts.
Cotto has the type of stature (especially if he wins on Saturday night and becomes the first Puerto Rican to capture major world titles in four weight classes) to tear down the walls currently hindering the sport. Fighters like him can be a catalyst for change. “Golden Boy has its own way of thinking their things. Top Rank has the same,” he states. “I can go over there and talk to them about it. They make their own decisions.”
But it’s clear he feels as though he’s come home.
It’s been a frustrating year for Top Rank, which has seen the likes of Mikey Garcia and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. give them problems. DuBoef tries to preach patience to his younger clients and stay the course with them.
“I try to say that all the time; we use Cotto as an example, [Manny] Pacquiao as an example. Hey, listen, Pacquiao just re-upped,” he points out. “The problem there is I don’t believe the word ‘patience’ exists in today’s lexicon for fighters or managers. They’re just like, ‘Go grab whatever you can and get out,’ or they don’t understand. Too many people don’t understand that relevance of building a property. They just think about sucking as much money out of one branch of the economic tree - the television money - and that is the way the business works currently.”
Carl Froch is the perfect example of a fighter being greater than the sum of his parts. Yeah, he might have some technical flaws; he may not be the fastest or quickest guy around but all he basically does is win over and over again. Once again, George Groves, found that out again as he was able to effectively box “The Cobra” early on but succumbed to his power in the eighth round.
A booming right hand sent Groves crashing to a heap and the fight was waved off almost immediately by referee Charlie Fitch. The bottom line is while Froch could take what Groves could dish out, Groves simply didn’t have the whiskers Froch possesses.
By the way, wasn’t that a wonderful crowd at Wembley Stadium? 80,000 for a prizefight in 2014. It’s staggering if you think about it. Just wondering though, why didn’t HBO bother to send its crew to England? I found that odd that they had Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman and Roy Jones call this from a Las Vegas ballroom (also, if HBO is going to bring up Andre Ward, it should at least try and mention his ongoing litigation against Dan Goossen in passing. By not doing so, it simply isn’t telling the whole story. Kellerman said Ward was the best fighter in the world. Did Floyd Mayweather retire without telling the rest of us? The more HBO claims that it has no corporate agendas, the harder I find it to believe it).
My latest contribution to on the lack of an official announcement from Showtime on the pay-per-view numbers for the Mayweather-Marcos Maidana fight:
Anyone else find the Nonito Donaire-Simpiwe Vetyeka fight ending a bit fishy in Macao, China?...Nicholas Walters basically ended the career of Vic Darchinyan (who had a really good run)...In winning, Javier Fortuna got really beat up versus Juan Antonio Rodriguez in Las Vegas...Hey, don’t look now but Sergio Mora scored another stoppage victory...I like the Heat in seven over the Spurs...So how much would the Lakers be worth if they were up for sale?...Again, if you haven’t caught “Gang Related” on FOX, do so...Ican be reached at and I tweet at We also have a Facebook fan page at, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.

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