- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, who claimed the title by dropping Sergio Martinez four times en route to an upset 10th-round knockout victory June 7 at New York's Madison Square Garden, was expected back in the ring Dec. 13 at the Garden, although the opponent had not been selected yet.
However, on Wednesday, Cotto, whose tour de force against Martinez made him the first Puerto Rican fighter to win world titles in four weight classes, pulled a bit of a surprise when he announced on Twitter that he would take off the rest of the year.
Fans I wanted to share with you all that my return to the ring will be in early 2015!!. Thank you for the amazing support. #WarCotto
- Miguel A. Cotto (@RealMiguelCotto) September 3, 2014
The reason for Cotto's decision was simple logistics. Freddie Roach, Cotto's Hall of Fame trainer, also trains welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao, who is preparing for his Nov. 22 defense against Chris Algieri. But because the fight will take place in Macau, China, Pacquiao's training camp will take place in his native Philippines with no part of it slated to take place at Roach's Wild Card gym in Los Angeles, which is typically where Pacquiao does half his camp for fights in the United States.
Last week, Roach and Cotto talked about the possibility of Cotto traveling to the Philippines to train there, but Cotto ultimately decided he did not want to make the trip. As he reasoned, he doesn't have to fight again this year, there is no natural available opponent and he doesn't need the money, so why not just take off the rest of the year?
"We were trying to coordinate having [Roach] with him at all times during his camp for the planned December fight, but at the end, it was not possible due to his prior commitments with various fighters that will train in Asia during a good part of that period," Gaby Penagaricano, Cotto's adviser, told ESPN.com. "We looked at various scenarios, but at the end, Miguel decided to wait until next year. He has no problem at all not fighting this year and is very happy with his decision."
Top Rank president Todd duBoef, Cotto's promoter, told ESPN.com that Cotto would fight in either February or March on pay-per-view. As for a venue, duBoef said the No. 1 choice is Madison Square Garden, so he will need to talk to Garden executives about available dates.
"Obviously, the Garden is home to him. It's a wonderful place," duBoef said.
As for opponents, there is no fighter who is the particular focus. DuBoef recently went to Puerto Rico to talk to Cotto about a deal for the December fight, but before they got too far, Cotto realized he needed to talk to Roach about the schedule.
The big fight for Cotto obviously would be a showdown with former junior middleweight titlist Canelo Alvarez, who is due to fight in November or December against an opponent to be determined.
Many thought that Cotto and Alvarez would each fight different opponents at the end of this year, setting themselves up for a blockbuster showdown next spring or early in the summer. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Cotto could forgo a fight in the first quarter of 2015 and simply go right to a fight with Alvarez in May or June, assuming Alvarez wins his fight later this year.