MIGUEL COTTO RECIPIENT OF THE WBO WORLD DIAMOND BELT
As a kid, Miguel Cotto took up boxing to lose weight. Twenty-six years later, the future first-ballot Hall of Famer retires from the sport he made his life’s profession, leaving an invaluable legacy that includes being the only four-division and six-time world champion of Puerto Rico. Let’s relive the amateur and professional accomplishments of his illustrious career.
His boxing career began at age eleven at the Bairoa Gym in Caguas, Puerto Rico where his first steps as an amateur prospect bloomed. In 1997, Cotto won the Lightweight Gold Medal at the Pan American Championships in Medellin, Colombia. The following year, he won the Lightweight Silver Medal at the Pan American Junior Championships in Toluca, Mexico; that same year, Cotto won two Silver Medals in the abovementioned division at the World Junior Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina and the Central American and Caribbean Games held in Maracaibo, Venezuela.
In 2000, as he transitioned towards the Light Welterweight division, Miguel Cotto continued to win accolades in his amateur career when he won Gold at the Central American and Caribbean Championships in Caracas, Venezuela. During the same year, Cotto proudly represented Puerto Rico in the same division at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games with teammates composed of world-class fighters and former world champions, such as, Iván “Iron Boy” Calderón, and Orlando “Fenómeno” Cruz. His amateur career record consists of 125W-23L.
The following year, on February 23, 2001 Cotto turned professional defeating Jason Doucet via first-round KO. As a professional, he was promoted by Puerto Rico Best Boxing Promotions and later by Hall of Famer Boxing Promoter Bob Arum who signed the professional prospect. After 14 straight victories, Cotto won the Vacant WBO North American Boxing Organization (NABO) Jr. Welterweight Championship at the Ruben Rodríguez Coliseum in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, defeating veteran contender Rocky Martinez by a second-round knockout.
The winning streak continued as Cotto won numerous regional titles from other major sanctioning bodies. He avenged his amateur loss against Kelson Pinto in 2004 and won the vacant WBO World Jr. Welterweight Championship. The highly anticipated clash that resulted in a sixth-round TKO was held at the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico.
During the following two years, Cotto successfully defended his WBO World Jr. Welterweight Championship on six occasions against strong contenders. On December 12, 2004, Cotto defeated former WBO World Jr. Welterweight Champion Randall Bailey by way of a sixth-round TKO victory at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. His next title defense was held on February 26, 2005, against former WBO World Jr. Welterweight Champion DeMarcus Corley at the Ruben Rodríguez Coliseum in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. Challenger Corley hurt the Puerto Rican fighter badly. Nevertheless, Cotto’s will and courage prevailed winning by TKO victory in round five. His third consecutive defense was held three months later on June 11, 2005 at the mecca of boxing, the Madison Square Garden in New York City. On this occasion, Cotto avenged his Sydney Olympic Games’ loss to Gold Medalist Muhammadqodir Abdullaev, who was punished by the champion and stopped by a TKO victory in nine.
The defining moment in Miguel Cotto’s professional career came on September 24, 2005 when he defended his WBO World Jr. Welterweight title against an unknown and undefeated contender, Ricardo Torres from Colombia. The bout was held at the Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Surprisingly, the hard-hitting Torres rocked Cotto; hurt him badly dropping him in the second round. It was the first time Cotto was knocked down as an amateur and professional. Nonetheless, Cotto evidenced that he could take a punch fighting toe-to-toe at an elite level. Consequently, Cotto’s famous body punch attack combined with the fighter’s fierce determination resulted in knocking Torres down on four occasions, causing the referee to stop the fight by TKO victory. Cotto’s epic performance transcended and catapulted his career to stardom.
On December 2, 2006, Cotto moved up to the Welterweight division and faced fellow compatriot and former WBO World Welterweight Champion, Carlos “Indio” Quintana at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After much punishment, Quintana’s corner threw the towel and Cotto became a two-division world champion. At the welterweight division, Cotto faced even tougher world-class competition as he faced former WBO World Jr. Welterweight Champion Zab Judah on June 9, 2007 at the Madison Square Garden in New York City. After eleven bloody rounds, Cotto won by TKO victory. Five months later, Cotto would face his toughest contender yet in an Olympic standout against multi-division world champion and future Hall of Famer, “Sugar” Shane Mosley. The highly anticipated matchup held at the Madison Square Garden in New York City was highly competitive from round one to twelve. Cotto’s youth, skills, and abilities exceeded the veteran’s opposition and Cotto won by unanimous decision.
Miguel Cotto’s first professional loss came at the hands of Mexican contender Antonio Margarito who won by TKO victory after eleven rounds of non-stop action at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 26, 2008. Margarito’s win was subject to a scandalous controversy as it was discovered in his following bout against Shane Mosley that he was wearing illegal hand wraps; therefore, the evident punishment displayed on Cotto’s physical appearance was suspicious. Consequently, Margarito was suspended and his trainer banned from professional boxing.
On February 21, 2009, Miguel Cotto returned in great fashion winning the vacant WBO World Welterweight Championship by a TKO victory in round five against Michael Jennings at the Madison Square Garden. Following his return win, Cotto defended his title successfully against former Welterweight Champion Joshua Clottey winning by split-decision after twelve competitive rounds. However on November 14, 2009, Miguel Cotto was challenged by the legendary boxing icon and the first ever boxer in history to win world titles in eight weight divisions, the former WBO Super Champion Manny Pacquiao. Regrettably, Cotto suffered his second career loss by TKO after twelve tough rounds with one of boxing’s pound-per-pound greatest fighter.
With his second defeat, Cotto rejuvenated his career as he hired Hall of Fame trainer, Emmanuel Steward and won another World Championship, this time the Jr. Middleweight division as he faced undefeated contender Yuri Foreman on June 5, 2010 at the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx in New York. Cotto executed his boxing attributes beautifully using his signature left hook to the body scoring a ninth-round TKO victory. Sadly, trainer Emmanuel Steward passed away, and Cotto resorted to Cuban boxing trainer, Pedro Díaz. With a new trainer in his corner, Cotto refined boxing fundamentals and agreed to avenge his first loss by facing Antonio Margarito at the Garden. Cotto’s tenacity combined with his drive to win eventually superseded Margarito’s relentless pressure style when the latter was forced to stop on round nine.
Following his revenge win against Margarito, Cotto faced one of boxing’s best fighters of all times, pound-per-pound undefeated king, Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 5, 2015 at the MGM Grand in Vegas. Although Cotto suffered his third loss, he displayed excellent boxing skills and gave Mayweather his toughest career challenge to date with twelve highly competitive rounds.
By 2014, Cotto added to his resume Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, who brought back Cotto’s signature left body punch style. History was made on June 7, 2014 when he became the first Puerto Rican boxer to win world titles in four weight divisions. He faced former World Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Cotto’s dominant performance made a statement within the above division and continued to reign until he faced upcoming Mexican superstar Saul Canelo Alvarez on November 21, 2015 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Vegas, Nevada. This particular bout was Cotto’s first under the Roc Nation Promotions’ banner that signed the superstar fighter to a multi-lucrative, multi-fight deal in conjunction with his promotional facet at Cotto Promotions, which was starting to develop young, upcoming boxing prospects. The Puerto Rico versus Mexico matchup lived its hype; However, Cotto suffered his fifth defeat via unanimous decision after a highly combative twelve round championship bout.
Finally in 2017, Cotto once again tested his will by fighting for the vacant WBO World Jr. Middleweight Championship against fierce contender, Yoshiro Kamegai, at the StubHub Center, in Carson, California. During the twelve rounds, Cotto looked stellar against the pressure style Japanese fighter thus becoming a three-division WBO World Champion with an impressive unanimous decision.
By the end of the year, Cotto kept his promise to retire from the sport, but he wanted a final farewell world championship fight after a nearly seventeen-year professional boxing career at what he called his second home, the Madison Square Garden. This time, Cotto defended his WBO World Jr. Middleweight Championship title against former WBO NABO Welterweight Champion Sadaam Ali. Even though he suffered his fifth career upset, Cotto fought with a left torn bicep during half of the fight until the final seconds of round twelve. As always, Cotto’s brave heart was displayed. After the bout, he graciously accepted his defeat by congratulating his opponent and acknowledging his fans worldwide for their continued support during his career.
Miguel Cotto exits professional boxing on his terms and leaves a legacy similar to other boxers such as, Wilfredo “Bazooka” Gómez, Félix “Tito” Trinidad, and Wilfredo Benítez. Today, Cotto is financially secure, healthy and ready to continue developing his promotional efforts and his stable of fighters: Current WBO World Jr. Flyweight Champion, Angel “Tito” Acosta, World Champion Alberto Machado, WBO NABO Jr. Bantamweight Champion, José “Chiquiro” Martínez. The future is bright for Miguel Cotto’s professional and personal career, and the World Boxing Organization is proudly honored to have Miguel as its WBO ambassador from his initial stages to his retirement. Farewell Champion!