The ideal of Miguel Cotto and Juan Manuel Marquez meeting in the ring extends far beyond one last hurrah for a pair of ring legends.
“Legends never leave unfinished business,” Cotto revealed through his verified social media platforms on Monday, verifying a previous report from BoxingScene.com of the upcoming clash of retired former four-division titlists.
A 35-second promo video accompanied the formal announcement of their forthcoming exhibition bout. Neither the time frame nor location were revealed, though June 12 remains the rumored date for the event with Miami eyed as a potential destination.
“Legendary rivalries are never late,” declared the promo, referring to the latest entry in the longtime boxing rivalry between Puerto Rico and Mexico.
Cotto (41-6, 33KOs), 41, remains the only-ever male boxer from his boxing-rich island to claim crowns in four weight divisions, all coming after having represented Puerto Rico in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Title wins at junior welterweight, welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight grace a 17-year career which is currently eligible for Hall of Fame consideration, with the Caguas native still on the ballot after falling just short in vote totals on the first try in 2020.
The upcoming showdown with Marquez (56-7-1, 40KOs) will mark the first ring appearance for Cotto since a Dec. 2017 defeat to Sadam Ali at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The 40-year-old ring icon has since established himself as the leading promoter in Puerto Rico through his founded Promociones Miguel Cotto outfit, frequently partnering with Golden Boy Promotions over the past several years.
Marquez will fight for the first time since May 2014, when he called it a career following a decision win over Mike Alvarado.
The feat came six months after falling just short in his final title bid, a 12-round points loss to Timothy Bradley in their Oct. 2013 WBO welterweight title fight. Marquez sought to become Mexico’s first-ever five division titlist, joining the short list of those to win major titles at four separate weights.
The now 47-year-old from Mexico City was voted into the Hall of Fame during his first year of eligibility in 2019. COVID restrictions have delayed his official enshrinement, as Marquez will be part of a massive three-year group to be formally inducted in June 2022. It is expected that Cotto will join him by that point, though first joining Marquez in the ring as part of a growing trend of legendary boxers returning well beyond their official retirement.
In addition to the Puerto Rico vs. Mexico rivalry, there is more intrigue surrounding this bout than most others on this level. Cotto is only three-plus years removed from his last bout, while he and Marquez appear to be in much better shape than most others on boxing’s senior tour. There was also a point when such a fight was theorized, despite the minimal overlap in their respective careers.
Both enjoyed their most memorable moments in the twilight.
Marquez settled an eight-year rivalry with Manny Pacquiao (who still campaigns at welterweight, eyeing a 2021 ring return), scoring a 6th round knockout in their fourth fight in Dec. 2012. The feat was by far the most memorable of their quartet and hailed as one of the best fights of the 21st century.
Interestingly, it was also their only fight without a major title at stake. Pacquiao and Marquez fought to a draw in their May 2004 featherweight championship clash, with Pacquiao dethroning Marquez in their March 2008 junior lightweight championship. More than three years later came their Nov. 2011 clash, with Pacquiao making the final defense of his first reign as WBO welterweight champ with a 12-round decision.
The outcomes in their first three fights were all disputed, with many arguing that Marquez should be no worse than 3-1 in their all-time series.
Cotto was already one of Puerto Rico’s most established pro fighters prior to his June 2014 knockout win over Sergio Martinez. The World middleweight championship winning effort took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day parade. The Boricua-themed double play first started by Cotto (through Top Rank) in his June 2005 knockout win over Muhammad Abdullaev, avenging a loss from the 2000 Olympics and igniting a run where he would go 5-0 (3KOs) on the weekend through the historic win over Martinez.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox