The junior middleweight fight between former four-division world champion Miguel Cotto and slugger James Kirkland was canceled on Thursday, Roc Nation Sports announced.
Roc Nation Sports' announcement said that it had received "notification from James Kirkland's team that Kirkland has suffered an injury which will force him to withdraw." The statement went on to say that Kirkland had suffered a fractured nose.
The entire card was canceled. The scheduled 12-round Cotto-Kirkland bout was due to headline an HBO PPV telecast on Feb. 25 at the Ford Center at The Star, the new training facility of the Dallas Cowboys in Frisco, Texas, that includes a 12,000-seat arena. The card was supposed to be the first boxing event at the Ford Center at The Star.
Roc Nation Sports declined to comment further, as did the Cotto camp.
Michael Miller, Kirkland's manager, told ESPN that Kirkland suffered a hairline fracture during a sparring session last Friday and finally went to the doctor on Tuesday for X-rays. The doctor told Kirkland he should avoid contact for the next six to eight weeks, Miller said.
"When it happened he was hoping it wasn't broken, but it bled like crazy," Miller said. "He thought it was just a bloody nose, but when he sparred again on Tuesday and he knew he was hurt and [trainer Ann Wolfe] said he should go to the doctor and sure enough it was broken.
"James wanted to tough it out and not tell anyone about it but that's not the right thing to do. The doctor confirmed the break, took three X-rays and that's where we are. He's very disappointed."
Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs), 36, Puerto Rico's only four-division world champion and one of boxing's biggest stars, was due to end a 15-month hiatus since losing a lopsided unanimous decision and the middleweight world title to Canelo Alvarez in their November 2015 megafight in Las Vegas.
Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs), a 32-year-old southpaw from Austin, Texas, has fought just three times since 2011 and has not been in the ring since May 2015, when Alvarez brutally knocked him unconscious in the third round. Now their layoffs will carry on.
Cotto, who has said he plans to retire from boxing at the end of the year, had been training with Freddie Roach at Roach's Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California. This was to be the last fight of his three-bout promotional contract with Roc Nation Sports, which was facing likely heavy financial losses on the pay-per-view because of the millions it owed Cotto for the fight compared with tepid interest in the card. Kirkland was training with Wolfe, with whom he had reunited to get ready for the fight.
Roc Nation is unlikely to reschedule the fight, which Miller said was its right under the contract.
"We hope they will but we know that the chances are between slim and none," Miller said.
Canceled along with the main event was the rest of the card that included the junior featherweight co-feature between world titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) and mandatory challenger and interim titlist Moises Flores (25-0, 17 KOs) as well as a 10-round junior featherweight bout between blue-chip prospect Diego De La Hoya (16-0, 9 KOs), a first cousin of Hall of Famer Oscar De La Hoya, and former world title challenger Yoandris Salinas (21-2-2, 14 KOs).