Miguel Cotto is no longer a free agent with the announcement Thursday morning of a new, multi-year fight deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports.
Cotto, who has not fought since winning the middleweight title from Sergio Martinez in June 2013, expects to return to the ring in early June at Madison Square Garden. Roc Nation Sports, who ran their first boxing event (Throne Boxing) in January, is also based in New York City.
“We bring a lot to the table beyond the world of boxing,” said David Itskowitch, chief operating officer of Roc Nation Sports’ boxing division, to ESPN. “We can bring certain things in boxing that were attractive to him, but there’s a lot that we can help establish for him in his years beyond the ring.”
For the last six months, Cotto’s fight plans have been shrouded in secrecy, prompting immense frustration from his former promoter, Top Rank. Although not under a formal contract, Cotto reunited with Top Rank in 2013 and pledged to end his career with the company that jump-started his career. However, Cotto shocked many by turning down an estimated $10 million dollar purse to face Golden Boy’s Canelo Alvarez on May 2.
Cotto’s Roc Nation alliance has already been derided by Top Rank, but the Puerto Rico star brushes off the criticism and views his new deal as smart and ethical business.
“I am just finishing the last part of my career by doing what is in the best interest for me and my family,” explained Cotto to ESPN. “We had the opportunity to work with and have nice relationships with Top Rank and Golden Boy [for two fights] and now we have an agreement with Roc Nation. That was the best option for us. Just like any other businessman, I am just thinking about the benefits, the money and the opportunity in this deal.”
At press time, Cotto has not confirmed an opponent for June. Potential opponents include Cornelius Bundrage, Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios.
Boxing is looking like Game of Thrones with all these secret alliances and surprise moves. In less than three months, Roc Nation has added two marquee fighters to their stable in Andre Ward and now Cotto…. but at what price?
Top Rank is furious with this move and probably will cut off Cotto’s options to face Bradley and Rios out of spite. Golden Boy may not want to revisit the Canelo fight either after having their red-headed golden goose embarrassed by Cotto ignoring him for weeks during negotiations and forcing Canelo to settle for James Kirkland (sans Vegas and Cinco de Mayo weekend). And let’s not forget HBO, who’s aligned heavily with both Canelo and Top Rank. Networks are not above clique-ish behavior.
So far in 2015, the out of the ring moves are just as entertaining as the fights.