Photos: Hector Santos Guia/Miguel Cotto Promotions/Roc Nation Sports
By Matt Draper
NEW YORK -- The Feb. 25 junior middleweight showdown between Miguel Cotto and James Kirkland in Frisco, Texas on HBO pay-per-view has been billed "The Return" -- a nod to Cotto's first fight following a year-plus hiatus -- and it was clear from Wednesday's media event at Le Parker Meridien in Manhattan that both boxers are eager to show they're still among the most dangerous in the division after lengthy layoffs.
“I knew I wanted to come back and this is the way that I want to do it,” said five-time world champ Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs), who added that he was starting training camp later in the day to ensure he was in top condition. “It’s going to be a great fight. I know that James always comes with a winning attitude. And I’m going to do the same.”
The 36-year-old Puerto Rican also announced that 2017 would be his final year in boxing and that he was aiming for “two or three” fights to finish his career. "I’m here for the best fights and the best fighters out there,” continued Cotto, adding that if the opportunity presented itself, he was ready to avenge his unanimous decision loss to Canelo Alvarez in November 2015, Cotto's most recent fight.
“He has a lot left," Cotto trainer Freddie Roach said. "If he didn’t I wouldn’t be here. He’s great in the gym, he’s always in shape and he keeps himself close to weight all the time."
Beyond getting into peak physical condition, both Cotto and Roach said defeating former WBC Continental Americas and WBO NABO champ Kirkland won’t be an easy task.
“We’re going in there against a bigger opponent," said Roach. “[Kirkland] lets his hands go. He’s a strong guy who comes forward.”
Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs), a heavy handed southpaw who like Cotto is coming off a long layoff following a loss to Alvarez (KO, May 2015), said he looks forward to getting back in the ring and going against one of boxing’s best.
“This is an opportunity for me to bounce back,” said the 32-year-old Texan. “I’m putting everything on the table.”