Miguel Cotto “Juanito”: A Biography! 

Miguel Cotto
Date of Birth:January 29, 1980
Place of Birth:Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Nationality: Puerto Rican
Gym(s): Bairoa Gym
Location: Caguas, Puerto Rico
Coaches: Evangelista Cotto his Uncle (2001 – 2009) Emmanuel Steward (2010 – 2011)  Pedro Diaz (2011 – 2012) Freddie Roach (2013 – 2017)
Boxing Career: Amateur, Professional, Promoter
Nicknames: Juanito
Height: 5 Ft 7 inches. 170cm
Reach: 67 inches. 170cm
Stance: Orthodox
Weight Class:Light welterweight, Welterweight, Light middleweight, Middleweight
Professional Record: Total Fights: 47, Wins: 41, Wins by KO: 33, Losses: 6, Draws 0, No contests 0
Notable Fights:Miguel Cotto vs Paul Malignaggi, Miguel Cotto vs Carlos Quintana, Miguel Cotto vs Zab Judah, Miguel Cotto vs ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto vs Antonio Margarito I & II, Miguel Cotto vs Manny Pacquaio, Miguel Cotto vs Floyd Mayweather Jr, Miguel Cotto vs Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez


Miguel Cotto or Miguel Angel Cotto Vasquez to give him his full name, is a former professional boxer from Puerto Rico who competed from 2001 to 2017. During this time ‘Juanito’ was a multiple world champion and the first Puerto Rican boxer to win world titles in four weight classes.

A hard hitting pressure fighter for the early part of his career Miguel Cotto would morph into an impressive counter puncher when he moved up in weight to fight the best in the business and make himself a national hero in Puerto Rico.

Early Life and Amateur Career  

Born in the United States to Puerto Rican parents Miguel Cotto was relocated back to Puerto Rico at the age of two into an extended boxing family that included his father, Miguel Cotto Sr, his brother José Miguel Cotto, his second cousin Abner Cotto, and his uncle and former boxing trainer Evangelista Cotto

Somewhat surprisingly given Miguel Cotto’s boxing pedigree he was not taken to the gym initially to box, but instead, to lose weight! Genius is often in the genes though and Miguel Cotto developed into a top amateur fighter. Notable exploits from his early years were his participation in several international tournaments including, the 1998 Junior World Championships in Buenos Aires, where Miguel Cotto would finish second, suffering only one loss and then by only one point.

Attendance at the Pan American Games in Canada and the Boxing World Championships in Houston Texas followed in 1999, before Miguel Cotto would turn professional after representing Puerto Rico as a Light welterweight at the 2000 Sydney, Olympic Games. His final amateur career statistics reportedly: 125 Wins and 23 losses. Though BoxRec reports a slightly different amateur record.

Early Professional Career

Miguel Cotto’s career nearly ended before it even started when in 2001 on driving to the gym he was involved in a severe accident which resulted in a broken arm. Recovery was relatively swift however and would see Miguel Cotto go on to win his first 32 fights as a professional, 26 of them inside the distance. 

Early victories over notable names such as Cesar Bezan and Rocky Martinez saw Miguel Cotto win the ‘WBC International’ light welterweight title and the WBO–NABO’ light welterweight title before defending these lesser known belts against the likes of Demetrio Ceballos, Carlos Maussa, Victoriano Sosa and Lovemore N’dou. All the time edging closer to No.1 contender status for the major belts. 

First Recognised World Title

On the 11th of September, 2004 Miguel Cotto’s official championship run would begin when he faced Kelson Pinto for the vacant WBO Light welterweight title. Interestingly, this represented the third fight between the two with Pinto previously victorious in two amateur contests. Miguel Cotto unable to countenance a third defeat – particularly given the fight was televised live on HBO from the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico! knocking the Brazilian Pinto down three times over the course of a TKO victory in six rounds.

Some interesting highlights which illustrate the fearsome punching power Miguel Cotto already possessed in both hands as well as his trademark compact style are viewable in the following clip.


Thereafter Miguel Cotto would continue his afore-mentioned winning spree by successfully defending the ‘WBO’ light welterweight title six consecutive times, prior to vacating it in late 2006 as part of his move up to the Welterweight division.

Miguel Cotto at Welterweight

Miguel Cotto’s move up to the Welterweight division came on the back of an impressive unanimous decision over the highly rated and previously undefeated Paul Malignaggi. The victory leading him to fighting fellow Puerto Rican, Carlos Quintana for the WBA title on the 2nd of December, 2006 in Atlantic City. A brutal body blow in the fifth would see Miguel Cotto win the bout and become a two division champion. Yet it was two of his next three fights and victories that really started to mark Miguel Cotto out as a tough, no nonsense fighter who could compete and defeat the fastest and most talented fighters around.

Miguel Cotto vs Zab Judah

On the 9th June, 2007, Miguel Cotto defended the WBA Welterweight title against the lightening quick Zab ‘the bad man’ Judah in New York City, at Madison Square Garden. In an entertaining fight, which included a couple of low blows and a knockdown, Miguel Cotto pursued an in-form Zab Judah relentlessly throughout, eventually forcing the referee to stop the fight in the eleventh round. All credit to Zab Judah, it was an extremely gutsy performance from him in which he showcased all his skills and landed some great shots (as well as taking some!) Miguel Cotto however was starting to show how nigh on impossible it was to stop him, with his ‘full on’ power and his continuous onslaughts.

Miguel Cotto vs ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley

In Miguel Cotto’s second consecutive visit to “The Garden” on the 10th of November 2007 (in a card made possible due to a legal settlement between Top Rank Boxing, Cotto’s promoter and Golden Boy Promotions, Mosley’s promoter) Miguel Cotto would defend his title by unanimous decision against another fighter considered one of the fastest around – Sugar Shane Mosley. Winning ultimately on the judges scorecards 115-113, 116-113, 115-113 in a performance described by Vivek Wallace as

“A rare moment in sports when a sudden ‘star’ rises from what is categorically termed as goodness, to the cusp of greatness”

Wallace excellent analysis and review of the fight are available to read here.

Miguel Cotto: First Professional Loss

On the 12th of April 2008, Miguel Cotto would successfully defend his championship with a three knockdown five round destruction of Alfonso Gomez. 

But on the 26th July of the same year at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Miguel Cotto would face Antonio Margarito and taste defeat for the first time. His uncle and trainer Evangelista Cotto throwing in the towel in the eleventh round. Margarito had fought the pressure fight usually expected of Cotto and on visible evidence deserved to win. Heavy suspicion and scrutiny however has since fallen on the fight and cast doubt on the victory, after Antonio Margarito was caught using illegal hand-wraps in a fight against Shane Mosley and banned from boxing for a year. An interesting article on the incident available here.

Miguel Cotto: Onwards and upwards

Miguel Cotto undeterred returned to the ring on the 21st of February, 2009 and captured the vacant WBO welterweight title from Michael Jennings whom he knocked down twice in the fourth round before a third knockdown in the fifth saw the referee stop the fight. This would represent Miguel Cotto’s second championship in the Welterweight division and he would defend it with victory by split decision over Joshua Clottey before losing to Manny Pacquiao the same year.

Miguel Cotto vs Manny Pacquiao

The match up between Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquaio was expected to see two great fighters in their prime engage in a blockbuster encounter. Truth be told, a ‘prime time’ Pacquaio cruised to a very one sided and spectacular victory on route to becoming the first ever seven weight world champion.


Miguel Cotto’s camp perhaps rueing the decision to agree the fight at a ‘catchweight’ of 145 pounds to accommodate Pacquaio’s smaller physique. For as you can see from the video it not only played into Pacquaio’s hands from a speed advantage but it seemingly also deprived their man of the ability to enforce his greatest asset, his smothering, pressing power. Manny Pacquaio on blistering form simply just far too fast and too good. Miguel Cotto perhaps able to console himself with the fact he reportedly earned some 12 million dollars from the fight.

Miguel Cotto at Light middleweight.

Following his loss to Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto possibly recognising an error of judgment had been made, moved up to the Light middleweight division. Here in his first bout Miguel Cotto would win the WBA Light middleweight title from undefeated reigning champion Yuri Foreman of Israel with a TKO stoppage in round 9. The bout was held at ‘Yankee Stadium’ New York on the 5th of June, 2010 and the win made Miguel Cotto a three divisional champion.

Thereafter Miguel Cotto would defend his title against the dangerous Ricardo Mayorga on the 12th March 2011with a KO in the final round. This would take Miguel Cotto’s championship fight record to an extremely impressive 17 wins and two losses and lead him into a rematch with Antonio Margarito.

Miguel Cotto vs Antonio Margarito II

On the 3rd of December 2011 a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden would witness Miguel Cotto enact revenge for his 2008 loss. The fight stopped at the start of the 10th round with Margarito’s right eye (which was badly injured in a fight against Manny Pacquaio) swollen shut. Some brief highlights of Cotto ‘righting a perceived wrong’ are available to view here, with the slow motion shots and the commentators remarks rather telling.

Miguel Cotto vs Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Miguel Cotto had become accustomed to winning again, though in accepting seven time world champion ‘Pretty Boy Floyd’s’ challenge to fight him on the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo), 2012 at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas he must of known it might be short lived. Credit to Cotto’s confidence however, he was unfazed by Mayweather or his remarkable record of 41-0 (25) and whilst losing a unanimous decision by scores of 117–111, 117–111, and 118–110  Miguel Cotto came out of the fight with great dignity and credibility. Cotto stating afterward

“The judges said I lost the fight; I can’t do anything else. I’m happy with my fight and performance and so is my family. I can’t ask for anything else.”

Mayweather himself reportedly telling Miguel Cotto when they clinched at the final bell. 

“You are a hell of a champion — the toughest guy I fought.”

A second consecutive loss by unanimous decision would follow for Miguel Cotto in attempting to win the WBA light middleweight title from Austin Trout on the 1st of December, 2012 at Madison Square Garden. But Miguel Cotto was not done with boxing yet and after defeating Delvin Rodriguez in July 2013 by third round TKO and also engaging legendary trainer Freddie Roach Miguel Cotto would move up to middleweight.

Miguel Cotto at Middleweight

On the 7th of June, 2014 Miguel Cotto would fight the WBC, The Ring and lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs) in his first fight at Middleweight. Inactive for a year with injuries Martinez was not in the best of health for a championship bout against Miguel Cotto. Martinez finding himself down three times in the first round and once in the ninth before retiring on his stool in the tenth. Miguels Cotto’s win ensuring he become the first Puerto Rican boxer to win world titles in four different weight classes.

Miguel Cotto vs Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez

Miguel Cotto would defend his newly won titles with an easy victory over David Geale in three one sided rounds on the 6th of June, 2015. Saul “Canelo” Álvarez on the 21st of November, 2015 however represented an entirely different quality of opposition. Miguel Cotto lost by unanimous decision 119–109, 118–110, 117–111 and whilst the scores were universally condemned by the boxing community as in no way accurately representative of the competitiveness of the fight. Most boxing pundits did have ‘Canelo’ winning by a round or two. It was nevertheless close.

Miguel Cotto would not attend the post-fight press conference, though Freddie Roach attended in his place and stated that he believed his fighter won. Miguel Cotto later advising reporters the same in Puerto Rico.

Career thereafter.

Following his loss to Saul Alvarez, several fights against differing opposition were proposed for Miguel Cotto, but negotiations against, Juan Manuel Márquez, James Kirkland, Yoshihiro Kamegai all broke down or didn’t follow through after contracts were initially signed.

What was successful was a deal between Golden Boy Promotions and Miguel Cotto’s own promotion company Miguel Cotto Promotions to co-promote his next fights as well as showcase the developing prospects of Cotto promotions and their efforts to revitalise boxing in Puerto Rico. ‘Golden Boy Promotions’ also committing to televise these fights from Puerto Rico, which was something that had not been done since 2003.

The new found alliance between the two promotion companies was also able to resurrect the Kamegai fight which would take place on the 26 August, 2017 live on HBO. At stake was the WBO light middleweight championship vacated by Canelo Alvarez which Miguel Cotto would claim via unanimous decision to become a 6 time world champion.

Final Fight and Retirement.

Miguel Cotto’s last fight was an upset loss to Sadam Ali at Madison Square Garden by unanimous decision. It was a loss made more understandable when Miguel Cotto revealed afterwards he had torn his bicep in the seventh round and thereafter did require surgery on it. In the scheme of things it made little difference, Miguel Cotto had announced earlier in contractual negotiations with ESPN that his final fight would take place on the 2nd of December 2017 and he stuck to his word. When asked about it afterwards Cotto stated  

”It is (my last fight). I want to be happy in my home and enjoy my family.” 

Cotto then telling fans, 

“Thank you for supporting me at every opportunity. “I’m so glad to call Madison Square Garden my home.” 

After a 17-year professional career, Miguel Cotto officially retired with a record of 41 wins, (33 inside the distance) and 6 losses. He remains active within Boxing today through his promotion company “Promociones Miguel Cotto” which primarily organises fight cards in Puerto Rico.

Miguel Cotto: Accolades.

Miguel Cotto’s major achievements have already been documented through-out this short biography. However on closer reflection of his losses it should be pointed out that of Miguel Cotto’s six losses: three were vs Messrs; Pacquaio, Mayweather and Alvarez! One vs Margarito is extremely dubious and the other two were the result of an upset and an injury suffered at the end of his career. Otherwise Miguel Cotto defeated all that stood before him with his record standing alongside the elite fighters of the modern era. His no-nonsense entertaining style also a boon for boxing. 

Moreover, just to reiterate:

  • Miguel Cotto was a 6 time world champion. 
  • Miguel Cotto was the first Puerto Rican to hold world titles in four different weight divisions.
  • Miguel Cotto is considered one of the greatest fighters to come out Puerto Rico as well as a national hero.

Miguel Cotto’s well deserved success in boxing, saw him inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2022.

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