Miguel Cotto is back in business.
Cotto will go for his sixth world title belt when he faces Yoshihiro Kamegai for a vacant junior middleweight title on Aug. 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, in the main event of HBO’s “World Championship Boxing,” Golden Boy Promotions announced Wednesday.
The 154-pound title they will fight for is the one vacated by Canelo Alvarez before he faced Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a super middleweight bout on May 6.
Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Kamegai and has long had a good relationship with Cotto, comes a week after Cotto and promoter Roc Nation Sports ended their union after two fights — and with one fight left on their deal — when they could not agree to terms for the bout with Kamegai, who had already signed.
Cotto, who is in the process of finalizing a multifight deal with Golden Boy, and Roc Nation Sports were far apart on the money and the fight had not yet been sanctioned for the title. They also did not have a site or support from HBO, which was not interested in putting Cotto on if there was not some significant fight to follow it. But now that Cotto will be with Golden Boy there is a good chance that, should he defeat Kamegai — and he will be a big favorite — he would move up to middleweight and face former titleholder David Lemieux (38-3, 33 KOs) in what would be a very attractive fight.
But first Cotto, the only Puerto Rican fighter to win world titles in four weight divisions (junior welterweight, welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight) will square off with Kamegai.
“I’m very excited to be back and showcase a high level fight for the fans,” Cotto said. “Kamegai is a great, tough fighter, but I will be ready for him and to capture the world title. I can’t wait to start training for this fight and get back in the ring on Aug. 26.”
Cotto had been in training camp with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach at his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, preparing to face Kamegai in June but he left when the deal fell apart and he and Roc Nation Sports ended their promotional contract.
The 36-year-old Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) has not fought since losing the middleweight world title by decision to Alvarez in their November 2015 megafight at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Cotto was initially scheduled to return to face brawler James Kirkland on Feb. 25 in the main event of an HBO PPV card Roc Nation Sports had planned, but the show was canceled when Kirkland suffered a fractured nose during his training camp.
Kamegai (27-3-2, 24 KOs), 34, of Japan, has been involved in several action-packed fights, including a competitive decision loss to former titleholder Robert Guerrero in 2014 and in his last two fights, a hellacious draw with Jesus Soto Karass last April and an eighth-round knockout of Soto Karass in the rematch in September.
But the fight with surefire future International Hall of Famer Cotto, who has faced a who’s who of top opponents, including Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Alvarez, Martinez, Antonio Margarito (twice), Shane Mosley and Zab Judah, will be by far the biggest of his career and his first opportunity to fight for a world title.
“I fully understand who I am going to be in the ring against, but Cotto’s record and history won’t matter once we are toe-to-toe,” Kamegai said. “I am looking forward to giving fans the kind of aggressive fight that they have seen from me before and having my arm raised in victory.”
The fight will mark only Cotto’s second fight in the Los Angeles area of his 16-year career. He boxed at the Staples Center on a Roy Jones undercard in his sixth professional fight in 2001.
“Miguel Cotto is a legend who is still fighting for title belts more than a dozen years after first being crowned a world champion. It’s remarkable,” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya. “But I’ve seen Kamegai in action many times, and the guy doesn’t ever take a step back. Miguel will have his hands full on Aug. 26.”