By Miguel Rivera
Two weeks ago, 51-year-old Bernard Hopkins took a very dangerous risk by returning to the ring after a two-year layoff to take on hard-punching light heavyweight Joe Smith Jr. It was Hopkins first fight since losing a decision to Sergey Kovalev in November of 2014.
In a stunning ending to a Hall of Fame career, Hopkins was cracked by a series of hard shots that sent him flying out of the ring in the eight round and couldn't continue.
On February 25th, 36-year-old Miguel Cotto is coming back from a 14-month layoff to face a dangerous puncher in James Kirkland. Cotto has been out of the ring since losing a twelve round decision to Saul "Canelo" Alvarez last November. Cotto, who last tasted victory in June of 2015 with a knockout of Daniel Geale, admits that 2017 might be his final year in the sport.
After watching what happened to Hopkins, the Puerto Rican star made it clear that he has no concerns in his comeback.
"None at all. As everyone has seen Miguel Cotto's boxing has been kept in a high level and we will continue on that level. So we expect good things in 2017 and after that we will welcome [whatever comes]," said Cotto to El Vocero.
Cotto, 40-5 (33 KOs) is gearing up for his training camp with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood. On January 9, he will travel to Los Angeles, California, to begin his official preparations.
"We are taking a plane to Los Angeles to train, and we are going in with the same commitment that has always characterized us and we will work exactly the same - with the same strength and with the same emphasis that we have done for all these years, "Cotto said.
Kirkland, meanwhile, has a record of 32-2 (28 KOs) and he too is coming back from a long layoff after suffering a brutal knockout loss at the hands of Canelo on May 9, 2015 in Houston, Texas.
"This represents the 46th chapter in the career of Miguel Cotto and we're taking it with the same responsibility," said Cotto. "I have to wait to sit down with Freddie (Roach) to see what the pros and cons are. What he sees and what he does not see.... how he wants me to emphasize my work for this next fight, and we will work according to whatever Freddie lays out."