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Miguel Cotto signs with Roc Nation

Miguel Cotto will be making his ring return this June, and has just signed to Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports.

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Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

I can't say I saw this one coming. Miguel Cotto and Roc Nation representatives confirmed to ESPN that the fighter has signed a multi-fight, multi-year deal with the upstart boxing promotion company. In the span of just a few months, Roc Nation has already been on a roller coaster ride. They announced that they would be acquiring Gary Shaw Productions (including his stable), only to see that relationship dissolve an incredibly short time later. They've made a number of attempts to sign Al Haymon fighters, only to be rebuked. They even had a championship fight signed up for their very first card featuring Peter Quillin, only to have Quillin vacate his title and decline the bout and the payday. I guess this falls under the "Al Haymon" category as well. But on the bright side they were able to sign Andre Ward, but even in doing so, there's still no word on when he'll ever be fighting again.

Back to Cotto, this move essentially means that he's left Top Rank once again. Cotto announced that he's planning on being back in the ring in early June against an opponent yet to be determined (although "K9" Bundrage has been mentioned as a leading candidate), but the bout will be held in New York. This actually may not be such a bad move for Cotto who has a strong Puerto Rican following in New York, and obviously Roc Nation is based out of the city.

"We are really happy to have this partnership with Roc Nation and we are going to do our best as always to fight at the same level I have always fought at," Cotto said. "We are going to discuss the opponents and the venue but the best option for us is to be in New York."

David Itskowitch who is running the boxing division at Roc Nation is said to have been pursuing Cotto for the last several months (but probably much harder after they lost a number of fighters).

"We bring a lot to the table beyond the world of boxing," Itskowitch said. "We can bring certain things in boxing that were attractive to him, but there's a lot that we can help establish for him in his years beyond the ring."

What this really boils down to though, is that Miguel Cotto knows he's on his last stint as a fighter, and is looking to maximize his potential earnings by acting as a mercenary. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, as he's earned the right to move in his own best interest at this stage of his career.

"I am just finishing the last part of my career by doing what is in the best interest for me and my family," Cotto said. "We had the opportunity to work with and have nice relationships with Top Rank and Golden Boy (for two fights) and now we have an agreement with Roc Nation. That was the best option for us. Just like any other businessman, I am just thinking about the benefits, the money and the opportunity in this deal.

"When you talk about Miguel Cotto it's not only about Miguel Cotto the boxer. Miguel Cotto has a company (Cotto Promotions) that Roc Nation is going to bring more interest to. I'm in the last stage of my career. I need to have other things after my career."

Of course not everyone is going to be thrilled with this decision (*cough cough* Top Rank), and Todd duBoef had no trouble saying he doesn't know exactly where the relationship between Top Rank and Cotto soured enough for Cotto to leave them high and dry without warning.

"I don't know what happened, but ever since I've been with Miguel (since signing him out of the 2000 Olympics), there has always been a force trying to pull us apart, to divide us," duBoef told ESPN.com. "I can't constantly fight those that are trying to manipulate him to pull us apart. He is responsible for his decisions but he has always had people around him manipulating him. He has been corrupted by people who are disingenuous. His conduct shows he can be easily polluted.

"For the past few months I've been calling Gaby to talk about this or that as it relates to Miguel's next fight. He wouldn't return calls or texts, kept putting me off. What's there to hide? Don't dodge. If he says they got a great offer, be transparent and open. Don't hide. That is not in my DNA."

duBoef continued to say that at least the last time Cotto left Top Rank (for an 8-figure fight with Mayweather) he was at least "man enough" to be open with him about it and let him know ahead of time.

"This time they were playing games with me. They were devious and mischievous," duBoef said. "They weren't open and transparent. I'm disappointed in Cotto's personal conduct. It's not that he took another deal. But he said to me before the Martinez fight, 'I'm a man of my word. We're together. We'll finish my career together.' His words meant nothing."

Cotto was informed of duBoef's comments about him to which he simply responded:

"He's my friend. He's always going to be. But I am going to do what is best for me. I understood what was best for Miguel Cotto was to go to Roc Nation and if he is not OK with that, and against that, you can see what kind of friend he is of mine."

Moral of the story...There are no real friends in this business.

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