There is no place like New York’s Madison Square Garden for Miguel Cotto, a three-division titlewinner whose success and popularity in The Big Apple rivals any boxer in the recent history of the sport.
When the last of 17,943 tickets for Cotto-Antonio Margarito II was sold on Dec. 1 — two days prior to the fight at The Garden — it produced a sellout gate in excess of $3 million for the HBO Pay Per View-televised rematch.
Cotto (37-2, 30 knockouts), of Caguas, Puerto Rico, stopped Margarito in the 10th round to imprve to 7-0 with four knockouts at The Garden.
Cotto has decisioned former world titleholders Shane Mosley, Joshua Clottey and Paulie Malignaggi, and knocked out Zab Judah all at The Garden, where he is believed to have sold more tickets than any fighter overall, including Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Roberto Duran “or anybody else,” according to Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum, who promoted Cotto-Margarito II.
“You can rename Madison Square Garden The Mecca of Miguel Cotto. Selling out Madison Square Garden is an event,” said Arum of a venue that has long been dubbed “The Mecca of Boxing.”
“Selling it out in advance is a mandate. New York is Cotto country. I don’t think any fighter has sold more tickets in this building than Miguel.”
On Monday, Cotto was back in New York, where he is 9-0 overall with five stoppage wins.
This time, Cotto was on the city’s Museum Mile at the El Museo Del Barrio on Fifth Avenue taking part in the first of two press conferences to be overseen by Golden Boy Promotions in advance of his Showtime-televised challenge of southpaw WBA junior middleweight beltholder Austin Trout (25-0, 14 KOs) on Dec. 1 at The Garden.
“I am really excited to come back to my second home. Fighting at The Garden is always special for me, and a true pleasure,” said Cotto, who will participate with Trout in a Wednesday press conference in Puerto Rico.
“There is something unique in the atmosphere and it means a lot to me every time I fight there because the energy of the fans gives me extra motivation. Austin Trout will be a challenge for me, but I will win my fifth world championship on Dec. 1.”
This time, Cotto is appearing on Showtime.
“We are proud to be working with Miguel Cotto Promotions on such a huge event. Miguel Cotto is an icon not only in the boxing world but also to New York sports fans,” said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports.
“Bringing him back to this city to fight an undefeated champion in Austin Trout at Madison Square Garden is a perfect way to cap off what has been a landmark year for World Championship boxing on Showtime.”
Trout hails from Las Cruces, New Mexico, and is coming off a unanimous decision over Delvin Rodriguez in June that followed a Showtime-televised sixth-round stoppage of Frank LoPorto last November.
“Miguel Cotto needs no introduction. He is a true champion and one of the best fighters of the last 10 years,” said Trout, who turned 27 on Sept. 18,
“But I’m the present and future of the sport, and this is just the showcase I need to prove to the world that I’m one of the best, pound-for-pound. I can’t wait to fight in such a legendary place like Madison Square Garden. It’s every fighter’s dream.”
Cotto, who turns 32 next month, is coming off a unanimous-decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr., who added Cotto’s WBA junior middleweight to his WBC welterweight title, in May.
The loss to Mayweather ended a three-fight knockout and winning streak by Cotto, whose previous setback had come via 12th-round stoppage opposite Manny Pacquiao in November of 2009.
The triumph over Margarito had avenged the first loss of Cotto’s career, which was an 11th-round knockout in July of 2008. Cotto chose to face Trout over a rematch with Pacquiao.
“There are few events in boxing like a Miguel Cotto fight at Madison Square Garden,” said Golden Boy Promotions President Oscar De La Hoya.
“The atmosphere is electric and it feels like all of Puerto Rico has come out to support him. Nights like these lift up the sport and I can’t wait to be in New York on December 1 to witness this great fight live.”
The fight card will be co-promoted by Miguel Cotto Promotions.
“We are thrilled to have Miguel Cotto back at The Garden in a spectacular fight against undefeated and world champion Austin Trout,” said Hector Soto, vice president of Miguel Cotto Promotions.
“This will be like a homecoming party and a national Puerto Rican holiday. This is a solid show featuring one of the biggest superstars in boxing, Miguel Cotto, supported by hot prospects from the island of Puerto Rico showing their developing talent and potential. I can not wait.”
MIGUEL COTTO’S FIGHTS IN NEW YORK:
Waklimi Young, UD 4, Hammerstein Ballroom, April 28, 2001
Muhammad Abdulaev, TKO 9, Madison Square Garden, June 11, 2005
Paulie Malignaggi, UD 12, Madison Square Garden, June 10, 2006
Zab Judah, TKO 11, Madison Square Garden, June 9, 2007
Shane Mosley, UD 12, Madison Square Garden, Nov. 10, 2007
Michael Jennings, TKO 5, Madison Square Garden, February 21, 2009
Joshua Clottey, SD 12, Madison Square Garden, June 13, 2009
Yuri Foreman, TKO 9, Yankee Stadium, June 5, 2010
Antonio Margarito, TKO 10, Madison Square Garden, Dec. 3, 2011
Photo by Tom Casino, Showtime
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com