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Miguel Cotto to fight on February 25

James Kirkland lamont peterson Miguel Cotto

By Dan Ambrose: Former four division world champion Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) will be fighting in early 2017 on February 25 against a still to be determined opponent, according to RingTV. Cotto’s fight is expected to be televised on HBO pay-per-view. Cotto will be fighting at junior middleweight for his February 25 fight.

The potential venue is at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. This is the same place where Saul Canelo Alvarez recently fought WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith on September 17 in front of 51,000 fans. Having the fight in Texas would normally make one think that Cotto could be fighting a popular Mexican fighter like Canelo, but in this case it doesn’t appear that he’s the option.

Cotto’s possible opponent are down to James Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs) and former IBF light welterweight champion Lamont Peterson (34-3-1, 17 KOs). Kirkland is from Texas, but he’s been so inactive in the last four years that you have to wonder whether it even makes any difference if the fight is staged in Texas. Cotto’s fan base is mainly located in the New York area. Why he would want to fight in Texas is hard to know.

It only makes sense for Cotto to fight in Texas if he’s going to fight a popular fighter from that area or nearby area. Fighting Kirkland would have made sense back in 2009, when he was fighting on a frequent basis. Kirkland lost a couple of years in his career from 2009 to 2011. Upon his return to boxing in 2011, Kirkland fought six times and was shockingly knocked out in the 1st round by Nobuhiro Ishida in April 2011. Since 2012, Kirkland has rarely fought. He fought once in 2012, once in 2013, not at all in 2014, once in 2015 and not at all in 2016. Kirkland is probably not a good opponent for Cotto to fight, because the younger fans of the sport are not likely going to be familiar with him. Cotto needs to be facing guys that the fans know about. Of course, if Cotto fights a relevant junior middleweight with talent, he would have a good chance of losing due to his inactivity, lack of size and his advanced age.

Kirkland and Peterson are not PPV worthy opponents. It’s unclear why Cotto would want to fight either of those guys, especially with him fighting on PPV. Those are not relevant fighters in their divisions. Both of those guys have not been active in the past year. Indeed, Kirkland has fought in a year and a half since his 3rd round knockout loss to Saul Canelo Alvarez in May 2015.

Not surprisingly, Kirkland is not ranked in the top 15 by any of the sanctioning bodies at 154 or 160. Before Kirkland’s loss to Canelo, he hadn’t fought in a year and a half. In the last four years, Kirkland has fought just three times. That’s not good news. Kirkland will have been out of the ring for almost two years if he faces Cotto in February 2017. Lamont Peterson’s last fight was in October 2015, when he barely beat Felix Diaz by a questionable 12 round majority decision. It’s unknown why Peterson chose not to fight in 2016.

It’s probably not a good career move for someone 32 to be sitting outside of the ring for an entire year. But if Peterson can get a fight against Cotto in February, it won’t be too bad. By staying inactive, Peterson likely saved himself from getting beaten, because he doesn’t have the power to handle the top welterweights in the division in my view.
Miguel Cotto Promotions executive Bryan Perez said this to about Cotto’s next fight:

“There’s some decisions that we still need to do but Kirkland is one of the opponents we’re considering to fight Miguel on Feb. 25.” Perez said. “He should be coming back in a significant fight.”

The 36-year-old Cotto hasn’t fought in over a year since his 12 round unanimous decision loss to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in November 2015. For some reason, Cotto chose not to fight in 2016. The inactivity probably won’t help Cotto’s boxing skills any, because he’s only faced two good fighters that were in their prime in the last four years of his career. After Cotto’s loss to Austin Trout in 2012, he beat three aging fighters in Sergio Martinez, Daniel Geale and Delvin Rodriguez. Martinez had a bad knee. Cotto didn’t fight Gennady Golovkin to win a middleweight title. He fought the 40-year-old Sergio Martinez.

Despite his long layoff from the ring, Cotto is still ranked #2 by the World Boxing Organization. Why the WBO has an inactive fighter like Cotto still ranked so highly with their organization is the big question. You would think that once a fighter has been out of the ring for an entire year, they should be dropped from the ratings.

It’s too bad Cotto isn’t fighting a rematch against Canelo, because that’s a fight that would be perfect for the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Negotiating a fight against Canelo would take time, and there’s only two months to go before February. That’s probably not enough time to put together a rematch between Cotto and Canelo.

A fight between Cotto and welterweight Kell Brook would be an interesting match-up. I don’t think it would sell tickets in Texas, but neither will a fight against Washington, DC native Lamont Peterson. Like I said, I think Kirkland has been a part time fighter for too many years for him to draw fans. A fight between Cotto and Kirkland would not only be a bad idea as far as selling tickets to AT& Stadium, but it’s an equally bad one for a fight to be televised on HBO PPV. Who would want to see a fight between Cotto and Kirkland on PPV? I can’t think of too many fans that would be interested in that mismatch unless they were stuck in a time warp from back in 2009.

It wouldn’t make sense for Cotto, 5’7”, to fight at middleweight, because he’s too small for that division. Even at 154, Cotto would be badly out-sized if he fought the good contenders/champions in that division like Demetrius Andrade, Jermall Charlo, Jermell Charlo, Julian Williams or Julian Williams.

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