Le Parker Meridien, NY -- Miguel Cotto has made a name for himself with his damaging hand skills, heart and resilience since storming the boxing world back in 2001. In 45 career fights, the five-time world champion has had more than his share of impressive victories, and his losses have come against some of boxing’s most feared and revered pugilists including Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito.
James “Mandingo Warrior” Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs) has built a solid boxing reputation with his explosive power and knockout capabilities. He’s bodied 87.5 percent of the fighters he’s beaten.
The 32-year-old former NABO and WBC Continental Americas champion holds wins over verified maulers Brian Vera, Alfredo Angulo, Carlos Molina, and Glen Tapia.
Kirkland, who is trained by former female boxing legend and Triple OG Ann Wolfe, was last in action in May of 2015, suffering the second loss of his career courtesy of a vicious third-round KO from Canelo Alvarez.
Kirkland, who was in attendance at a promotional media luncheon for the fight at Le Parker Meridien in Manhattan on Wednesday said he is fiending to redeem himself.
“I feel like this is a step in the upper direction,” Kirkland asserted to the media in attendance. “I’m fighting a legend...I feel like this is my opportunity to bounce back.”
Both fighters have over a decade of experience and are facing a career crossroads. They have earned the right to be featured on an HBO Pay-per-view card, at least one last time before their viability as potential champions expires.
The two gladiators will meet at 9:00 p.m. ET/ 6:00 p.m. PT on February 25th as the featured bout and the first pro sporting event at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, a state-of-the-art, 510,000 square-foot indoor athletic a facility shared by the Dallas Cowboys, the City of Frisco and the Dallas Cowboys Football World Corporate headquarters.
The fight, sponsored by Roc Nation Sports and Miguel Cotto Promotions, may not be a championship bout, but as far as boxing value goes, it doesn’t get much better. Michael Yormark, Roc Nation President & Chief of Branding and Strategy says ticket sales are way ahead of schedule due in large part to the involvement of Jerry Jones and the Cowboys in the promotional process.
“The Cowboys have the largest Hispanic following in the NFL,” Yorkman said. “Jerry Jones’ marketing is second to none. It’s the right venue at the right time in the right market.”
The media luncheon was the calm before the storm as both fighters were laid back, cordial and understanding of the stakes involved with this fight. Then Cotto dropped some news that wasn’t quite a bombshell, but his definitive tone surprised many people in the room.
Flanked by his legendary trainer Freddie Roach, Cotto took the podium and announced that he is retiring at the end of 2017, so there is a sense of urgency for the aging fighter with more boxing miles than a 1987 Ford pickup.
He must defeat Kirkland to have any thoughts of being able to secure a title by the end of the year. Regardless of his level of success, however, Cotto says he’s given boxing enough of his time and he is going to transition into being a champion dad at home.
“I’ve been boxing since I was 11,” Cotto said. “I have four kids and I’ve been away from them most of my life...I want to enjoy them... I will have two or three fights at the most this year.”
Cotto will undoubtedly attract a legion of Hispanic boxing fans who want to see one of the game’s true rock raiders for the last time in the same state where he began his career with a TKO win over Jason Doucet at The Frank Erwin Center 16 years ago.
Kirkland will be the much bigger fighter at weigh-in, said Roach, so that could present some problems for the smaller Cotto. Kirkland will need every advantage he has because intimidating Cotto won’t be an option and outboxing the crafty champion will be a challenge.
Kirkland, who needs a big win over a marketable name to get back into championship contention, would love to speed up Cotto’s retirement by delivering a dominant knockout victory over the Puerto Rican boxing icon.
“The winner of this fight will be setting themselves up for a huge (championship) fight in 2017,” Yorkman said.
It should be a rugged contest, with both men holding nothing back and desperately aiming for one last shot at greatness.