The former four-division world champion from Puerto Rico announced recently that he plans to fight again by the end of the year following his Saturday night bout against Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai at StubHub Center.
Cotto (40-5, 33 knockouts) will bid to win the vacant World Boxing Assn. 154-pound belt on an HBO-televised card that begins at 6:45 p.m. Pacific time.
Kamegai (27-3-2, 24 KOs), known for a spirited two-fight series with Jesus Soto-Karass, predicted another “entertaining fight” against Cotto, who’ll turn 37 in October.
Cotto hasn’t fought since his November 2015 loss by decision to Canelo Alvarez, later splitting with his promoter, rapper Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports, and moving to Golden Boy Promotions.
He’s kept veteran trainer Freddie Roach in his corner, but said he realizes that in a year when contemporaries such as Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley and Wladimir Klitschko have retired, that it’s time for him to exit, too.
“Sixteen years is enough, and I have other things to do in life,” Cotto told reporters recently. “I have to … quit boxing and retire [by] Dec. 31.”
Cotto’s legacy is Hall of Fame-worthy, considering he beat Mosley near his peak in 2006, rebounded from a horrific beating from Antonio Margarito (found with plaster in his hand wraps one fight later) to avenge that loss, and gave Mayweather such a tough time in 2012 that the boxer reverted to his defensive-minded father as his trainer.
“I’m really proud of the career I’ve had,” Cotto said.
His fight with Kamegai, originally set as a nice, summer-capping event, did achieve good ticket sales in the early going and promoter Oscar De La Hoya has estimated more than 7,000 will attend the bout.
But the fight’s buildup has been swallowed up by Mayweather-McGregor, which will also be staged Saturday night at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
“I have no time and no space in my mind to think about another thing, you know? I’m just ready for Kamegai,” Cotto said.