The event seems a natural given Orlando’s growing Puerto Rican community.
Miguel Cotto, already popular in his native Puerto Rico and New York, will try to establish a third home-ring advantage Saturday night in Orlando. The three-division world champion and one of boxing’s most marketable fighters will make his first Florida appearance at the Amway Center, home of the Orlando Magic.
Cotto will face the Dominican Republic’s Delvin Rodriguez in a scheduled 12-round junior-middleweight bout. The fight will be televised by HBO.
“Fighting in front of that whole Puerto Rican community is going to be amazing,” Cotto said in a recent conference call.
A testament to Cotto’s popularity among his fellow Puerto Ricans are his fights in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Once considered the epicenter of marquee fights, Madison Square Garden only has had a boxing pulse in recent years when Cotto headlines a card.
Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank, which co-promotes Cotto, anticipates similar energy Saturday at the 20,000-seat Amway Center.
“We have seen unprecedented support from the city of Orlando, which hasn’t really had a fight in many, many years, especially of this caliber,” duBoef said.
“We keep having to open up sections and adding seats, and we look for an electric night. His popularity is way beyond regional.”
But Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs) will have more concerns than filling an arena. In his previous two bouts, Cotto lost unanimous decisions against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Austin Trout. For Cotto, snapping the two-fight losing streak against Rodriguez (28-6-3, 16 KOs) could help him again enter the pay-per-view landscape.
“There are no possibilities beyond this fight to think about,” Cotto said. “The only possibility I have right now is to fight Delvin Rodriguez [Saturday night] in Orlando. Then, after Delvin, we can talk about what is next in my career.”
Cotto, 32, also will have new guidance when he faces Rodriguez. Pedro Diaz, who trained Cotto for his bouts against Mayweather and Trout, has been replaced by Freddie Roach, highly regarded as the sport’s top trainer.
“I’m not really bringing things back, I am just trying to remind him of what worked best and to use it more,” said Roach, lauded for training Manny Pacquiao into one of boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighters. “He knows how to do it. He had just gotten away from it a little bit so it is really just a reminder of what works best.
“There is a good future and that’s why we are working so hard to win this fight. I want Miguel to win a world title again, and I look forward to being a part of that.”
This and that
• Late Saturday, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. won a controversial unanimous decision over Bryan Vera in Carson, Calif.
Although Chavez (47-1-1) landed solid rights and left hooks, Vera pressed the action throughout the 10-round light-heavyweight bout. Vera (23-7) was effective with rights to the head.
All three judges scored the fight for Chavez, 96-94, 97-93 and 98-92.
• Haiti’s Adonis Stevenson retained his World Boxing Council light-heavyweight title with a technical knockout win over Tallahassee resident Tavoris Cloud Saturday night Montreal.
Stevenson (22-1, 19 KOs) controlled the pace with solid lead lefts to the head that eventually caused swelling and bleeding above Cloud’s eyes.
The punch buildup forced Cloud’s trainer, Al Bonanni, to inform referee Michael Griffin to stop the bout before eighth round.
A former light-heavyweight titleholder Cloud is now 24-2.