By Jake Donovan
Miguel Cotto held court Monday afternoon for a well-attended media session at his training headquarters in Orlando, Florida. The former three-division champion is in the final stages of preparation for his December 1 showdown with unbeaten 154 lb. titlist Austin Trout.
The bout airs live on Showtime from Madison Square Garden, a venue as familiar to Cotto as the Orlando training site where he held an open workout. The Puerto Rican superstar looks to be in peak condition with less than two weeks to go before his first fight back since his closely contested 12-round points loss to Floyd Mayweather in May.
His December 1 return to Madison Square Garden marks his eighth time headlining at the venue, and his tenth fight over all in New York.
For Monday’s workout, Cotto (37-3, 30KO) was accompanied by head trainer Pedro Diaz as well as Jayson Velez (19-0, 14KO), a rising featherweight contender who fights under the Promociones Miguel Cotto banner. Velez will appear on the televised undercard, facing fringe contender Salvador Sanchez II – the nephew to the late all-time great featherweight of the same name – in a 10-round both.
The images of both fighters training together provided local photographers and videographers with still moments of present and future. Velez, of course, took a back seat to his mentor in terms of media attention, and for good reason.
Even as his career transitions from peak to post-prime, Cotto remains one of the biggest attractions in the sport today. A considerable portion of the love affair with the Puerto Rican superstar centers around his all-action style and a career’s worth of willing to take on all comers.
One significant change for this fight was the lead-in preparation. While Cotto has safely landed in the familiarity of his Orlando training locale, the 32-year old spent ventured to Big Bear (Calif.) for the first time in his career.
“Miguel’s training has been fantastic. He’s 100% ready,” insisted Pedro Diaz, who took over the corner duties prior to last December’s revenge-fueled stoppage win over Antonio Margarito. “Training in Big Bear was excellent. It’s something we’ve discussed ever since I began with Team Cotto.”
Cotto trained in high-altitude Big Bear for three weeks in October before heading to Orlando.
Monday’s media session came with the outdoor backdrop of a gloomy overcast and occasional drizzles around the area. There was nothing drab about the workout, however. Cotto was business as usual, sporting a gray sleeveless top and sweats, red skullcap and facial scruff accentuating the intensity he carries into every fight, from the moment it’s signed until the final bell and beyond.
The workout was standard fare, with both fighters climbing rope, taking turns wailing on a heavy bag stamped with Cotto’s name and then concluding the session with shadowboxing.
Several more closed sessions will take place in the final week of camp before heading to New York City for next weekend’s event. Cotto attempts to become a two-time 154 lb. titlist, though the thought of regaining hardware wasn’t his first option.
The initial target for his ring return was a rematch with Manny Pacquiao, against whom he was stopped in the 12th round of their Nov. ’09 welterweight title fight. Cotto was contractually obligated to a catchweight for that bout, and wasn’t keen on fighting under similar conditions for a rematch.
With that, he set his sights on Trout (25-0, 14KO), an undefeated southpaw with noticeable advantages in height, reach and age. None of that makes a difference to Cotto, who carries the same level of confidence into every fight.
“It doesn’t matter to me who I’m facing; I always train to win,” said Cotto, in typical business-as-usual fashion. “I can’t wait until December 1.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox