Former three-division titleholder Miguel Cotto, one of boxing's biggest stars, has made two big changes as he looks to end a two-fight losing streak. He is switching trainers and returning to the promoter that helped make him a star and guided him to his world titles.
"I will be back in the ring on Oct. 5 on HBO with Top Rank and [with trainer] Freddie Roach in my corner," Cotto announced on Twitter on Saturday night.
Cotto is likely to face perennial contender Delvin Rodriguez in the junior middleweight bout, although the deal has not been finalized.
Top Rank president Todd duBoef and Cotto adviser Gaby Penagaricano both told ESPN.com that the fight will take place in Florida, at either Marlins Stadium, where Major League Baseball's Miami Marlins play, or the Amway Center in Orlando, the home arena for the NBA's Orlando Magic.
Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs), 32, of Puerto Rico, will train with Roach at his Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, Calif., rather than in Puerto Rico or Florida, where he usually trains. In hiring the Hall of Fame cornerman, Cotto has parted ways with Pedro Diaz, the former Cuban amateur team coach who trained Cotto for his past three bouts.
The other major change is Cotto's reunion with promoter Top Rank, which signed him out of the 2000 Olympics, guided him to world titles at junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight and promoted all but his last two fights.
When Cotto's contract with Top Rank expired after his 10th-round knockout of Antonio Margarito to retain his junior middleweight title in their December 2011 rematch, he became a free agent. For his next two fights, Cotto worked with Golden Boy Promotions, Top Rank's bitter rival, losing his 154-pound world title to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a May 2012 blockbuster pay-per-view event followed by a decision loss to junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout in December in a fight that was televised on Showtime, HBO's rival.
"I think Miguel has always been one of the most exciting fighters in the sport but I think with the Mayweather and Trout fights, those styles were difficult for him," duBoef said. "I think he's still one of the top fighters in the world and my matchmakers believe the same thing."
DuBoef, the person at Top Rank closest to Cotto, has had a close relationship with him throughout his career. When Cotto left Top Rank to go to Golden Boy for the Mayweather fight, he texted duBoef to let him know ahead of time.
DuBoef is happy to have Cotto back in the fold, although he and Penagaricano, who has clashed with Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, both made it clear they are working together on a fight-by-fight basis with no contract beyond the Oct. 5 fight.
"There is no long-term commitment," duBoef said. "But I believe in our relationship and I believe it will prevail over any business transaction. Miguel and I have an incredible relationship, a long-standing relationship. A while ago, I wanted to get together with him and I texted him and told I was coming to Puerto Rico and I wanted to talk to him. When he became a free agent, I understood the Mayweather thing. That was a huge fight for him for a lot of money.
"But I wanted to maintain our relationship and over the past four months we have been communicating directly. We started discussing opportunities and it all really started coming together in the last two weeks on the Oct. 5 fight. This wasn't only about business for me. It was about the relationship. It wasn't about outbidding somebody. This is a relationship. It may sound phony or corny to people but I felt we started something when I signed him and I'd love to finish with him in his last fight as a pro. I signed him out of the amateurs and it would be nice to finish with him and sit with him someday at the Hall of Fame when he is inducted."
Cotto and Roach have known each other for years and Penagaricano said Cotto wanted to try something new.
"We've known Freddie for a long time. He's a good friend of ours," Penagaricano said. "Miguel wanted to try a few names so we reached out to certain trainers but it clicked with Freddie. At this stage in his career, he wants to train with Freddie and that's what we're going to do and, hopefully, he will be the trainer until the end of Miguel's career. But we have nothing negative to say about Pedro whatsoever. Pedro is extremely good and dedicated trainer but Miguel wanted something fresh and Freddie is a good match. We had a couple of very good meetings, face to face, and they were very positive, incredibly positive and they clicked."
As for the switch from Golden Boy back to Top Rank, Penagaricano said he and Cotto still have an excellent relationship with CEO Richard Schaefer and president Oscar De La Hoya.
"We've enjoyed an incredible alliance together and they remain good friends," Penagaricano said. "The opportunity came about for this fight. We had an excellent talk with Richard and Oscar and that's how we want to keep it. There is no negativity. I know there's a big war between the promoters but we won't be drawn into it. We don't need to be drawn into it. We will continue our business and maintain our relationships."
Rodriguez (28-6-3, 16 KOs) has twice challenged for world titles, but lost decisions to Isaac Hlatshwayo for a vacant welterweight belt in 2009 and to Trout for a junior middleweight belt in 2012. Since the loss to Trout, Rodriguez, 33, a native of the Dominican Republic from Danbury, Conn., has won two consecutive fights, both by knockout in main events on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."
If the deal with Rodriguez is not finalized, other names mentioned as potential Cotto opponents include Michael Oliveira, Damian Jonak and David Zegarra. One name rumored as a possible opponent, top contender Carlos Molina, was never in the running, Penagaricano said.