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Miguel Cotto Seeks Reform: Advocates Change

Image Credit: Top Rank

NEW YORK– On a golf course in Rio Grande this week, Miguel Cotto, the four-time division champion and Boxing Hall of Famer from Puerto Rico, participated in a clinic and the agenda was more about his role now as a promoter.

Cotto is no novice to the sport. Born in Providence, Rhode Island to Puerto Rican parents and relocated to Caguas, he won world championships in four weight classes, from light heavyweight to middleweight under the Top Rank promotional banner, a first for a champion from Puerto Rico.

He never ducked a challenge and made that commitment, a goal always to advocate improvement for boxing. Boxing provided prosperity for his family and Cotto envisioned others to become the next champion from Puerto Rico. With a quiet demeanor, Cotto sent a message.

“The best bing that amateur boxing in the country can do is join, not us, professional boxing in general, to help educate these guys, so that when they leap to professionalism, don’t abuse them and don’t take them for fools,” Cotto said at a golf clinic organized by the Puerto Rico Golf Association (PRGA).

Cotto, of course, is accustomed to appearing at charity events and a speaker in demand. He speaks well, always has, and learned more dealing with media and attending events on the Top Rank calendar. More so, Cotto learned more about the inner workings of a sport that needs reform.

Reform, he always said, is needed to assure a future for the many youngsters in Puerto Rico and world wide seeking a goal with their journey to become a champion. He experienced the injustice, the failures.

Cotto would realize the amateur and pro boxing environments are two separate entities, all on a different page as he experienced as a participant and representing Puerto Rico at the 1999 Pan American Games, the 2000 Olympics, and the 1998 Junior World Championships where he won a lightweight silver medal.

Image Credit: Chris Farina/Top Rank

Top Rank, the reputed and longevity boxing promotion saw those credentials and slowly but surely Cotto became the next superstar champion from Puerto Rico. He sold out arenas numerous times, still holding a record at Madison Square Garden (seven-times).

His fight versus eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao for the welterweight titles, (November, 14, 2009) in front of 16,200 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, generated 1.25 million buys and 70 million dollars in domestic pay-per-view revenue, making that the most watched PPV boxing event of the year and earned Cotto $12 million.

But that was just part of his legacy. Now, as a successful promoter of Miguel Cotto Promotions, and with a televised streaming network deal that enhances a rise of young talent in the ring, there is that advocacy of calling for improvement.

Cotto is advocating for improvement and support from high ranking boxing organizations in Puerto Rico, Puerto Rican Boxing Federation in particular, to educate amateur fighters from the start towards a proper mental attitude as they seek a professional career.

He said, “We have the Boxing Federation and it does not work hand in hand with professional boxing. They believe that the boy has to do his own thing for the honor, desire and pleasure of representing Puerto Rico and that’s phenomenal, that’s amazing. But you don’t go to Costco, you don’t go to Sams or the supermarket with your medal that you won for Puerto Rico.”

“You need money,” Cotto said. “And in the case of boxing, you need to cross over to professional boxing to get what you want.”

From this perspective, I can relate to this message. In December, 2021, I visited numerous boxing gyms and facilities in Bayamon. Speaking with numerous coaches, including Wilfredo Rivera, a former professional who fought for world titles that was chronicled here at

Image Credit: Latino Sports

Rivera trains more than one aspiring fighter and oversees the Santa Juanita Boxing Corner, financially funded with support from the city of Bayamon, a small and spacious facility at no cost for those who enroll to fulfill a mission that Cotto achieved.

There, Rivera provides safe instruction and equipment. There is little or no mention of the Puerto Rican Boxing Federation, and there in line is a major issue that Cotto is seeking to reform. Rivera uses his contacts and resources as a successful professional in attempts to make inroads for his students.

Cotto wants to see this change, also reforms in how former fighters from Puerto Rico and in the sport are provided for their well being when they leave the ring. Cotto was fortunate, Top Rank with HBO the network of champions, when he competed, and secured paydays with security for the future.

And Top Rank is a major advocate in protecting their fighters when they call it a career.

Cotto will continue to be an advocate. He wants boxing on the same page. He is constantly looking for improvement, cooperation, and more so now as an active promoter. He seeks the proper association for betterment of the amateur and pro fighters.

“Because if boxing has an association, all those characters who take advantage of the boxer will see their participation limited,” he said referring to various organizations that have a handle on the sport. That can be referred to professional alphabet soup sanctioning groups with the letters and amateur federations.

There has to be unity and not take advantage of the fighter on all levels. Cotto was one of the smart and astute fighters that would not tolerate nonsense and was always a step ahead of them.

“We have to unite, agree to create, and educate the boxer so that he (or she) is not abused,” he said. “Boxing is the only sport they make the athlete understand that he is not the boss of the group.”

A difficult mission to advocate and attempts have been futile from others over the years, then again, Miguel Cotto never gave up a fight leading to some hope.

Rich Mancuso is co-editor and senior writer Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso. Watch “Sports With Rich” with Rich and co-host Robert Rizzo Tuesday evening live 8pmET on the SLG Network and YouTube

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