Miguel Cotto, Puerto Rico's only four-division world champion, will end a 15-month layoff by taking on James Kirkland in a junior middleweight fight on Feb. 25, Cotto Promotions executive Bryan Perez told ESPN on Wednesday.
The scheduled 12-round bout will headline an HBO PPV card being put on by Roc Nation Sports and Cotto Promotions. It will take place 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.
Perez said the fight has been agreed to, and he expected a formal announcement by Roc Nation Sports as soon as Thursday.
"Miguel is back in the ring and we are all excited," Perez said. "Like he always does, Miguel wants to go in the ring and put on a great show."
Long one of boxing's biggest stars, Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) has won world titles at junior welterweight, welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight. But he has not boxed since losing a wide unanimous decision and the middleweight title to Canelo Alvarez in their November 2015 megafight in Las Vegas.
The fight with Kirkland is the last one in Cotto's promotional contract with Roc Nation Sports and is being pursued as a pay-per-view event, because the company owes Cotto at least $10 million for the fight. It almost surely will lose considerable money, since there is no public demand for the bout: Cotto is coming off a loss and has not fought since 2015; and Kirkland is a marginal opponent coming off a 21-month layoff and a crushing defeat.
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.
"We tried to do other fights, but you know how the business is," Perez said. "Kirkland was there, he was willing to fight Miguel, he makes good fights, and we made the fight. Miguel will do his best to give a great show and an exciting fight."
Perez said Cotto would begin training camp with trainer Freddie Roach at his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, in early January.
"Miguel can't wait to start training with Freddie," Perez said. "I think the year off was good for Miguel, but he is ready to fight again."
Cotto, 36, has typically fought in New York -- where there is a big and supportive Puerto Rican community -- or in Las Vegas. He has boxed only twice in Texas, in the first two fights of his professional career in early 2001. But Perez said the new Cowboys facility is ideal for a fight, and the Cotto camp is looking forward to doing the card there.
"It's a beautiful place," Perez said. "We're excited to be the first big sports event there other than football."
Although the deal is not complete, the co-feature of the card likely will be junior featherweight titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs), 36, a Miami-based Cuban defector and two-time Olympic gold medalist, making a mandatory defense against interim titlist Moises Flores (25-0, 17 KOs), 30, of Mexico. Roc Nation, Rigondeaux's promoter, is close to a deal with the Flores camp.