Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs), the only four-division world champion in Puerto Rico’s rich boxing history, and 154-pound contender Yoshihiro “El Maestrito” Kamegai (27-3-2, 24 KOs) hosted an international media conference call ahead of their 12-round fight for the vacant WBO Junior Middleweight title.
The fight will take place on Saturday, Aug. 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. and televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing® beginning at 9:45 p.m. ET/PT.
Here is what Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, and Yoshihiro Kamegai said during the call:
OSCAR DE LA HOYA, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions: It is my pleasure to introduce to you one of the most entertaining junior middleweight contenders in the division today. He hails from Japan. He’s been involved in numerous memorable battles and Fighter of the Year candidate against Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero. He’s had some amazing back-to-back brawls against Jesus Soto Karass.
This fight here is the one fight that he’s surely motivated and ready to step back into the ring on August 26th and give you guys a tremendous, tremendous show.So it is my pleasure to introduce to you with a record of 27, 3 losses, and 24 knockouts, I give you Yoshihiro “El Maestrito” Kamegai.
YOSHIHIRO “EL MAESTRITO” KAMEGAI, Super Welterweight Contender: I had the best camp ever, and I’m honored to be fighting the famous Miguel Cotto. And I look forward to being on HBO again and having a great fight. I’m all prepared to put on a great, entertaining fight.
OSCAR DE LA HOYA: Miguel, can we have you say a few words?
MIGUEL COTTO, Four-Division World Champion: Yes, I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to be back. And all I have to say is I had a great time at camp and it’s great to be back and in this fight.
Q. Hi there, Miguel. How are you today?
MIGUEL COTTO: Good. How are you?
Q. Doing good. My first question is I know you have said a few different times that you will fight this fight with Kamegai and then you will finish your career in the boxing ring at the end of this year, December, I believe. I’m wondering if you could explain or discuss the reasons why you are so set on ending your boxing career at the end of this year.
MIGUEL COTTO: I think that 16 years is enough, and I have other things to do in my life. You know, I’m taking care of my family better, and that is the biggest and only reason that I have to stop boxing and quit boxing and retire after December 31st this year.
Q. So you’ll go and you’ll have your fight with Kamegai on Saturday, and then you’ll have one more fight after that. So my question is what would you like — in your grand finale of a career that’s going to obviously put you in the Hall of Fame someday, what kind of accomplishment or what kind of magnitude or what kind of event would you like to have for your final fight? Not to look past Saturday, but if you’re going to fight one more time, win or lose, what kind of fight would you like for that last night? There’s been things thrown out, maybe Lemieux, maybe a rematch with Canelo Alvarez, but what are you looking to do in your last fight?
MIGUEL COTTO: First of all, I have to just think about Kamegai, and then we are going to do what we always do, you know? Then we’re going to pick and choose the best challenger out there, and we are going to face him.
Q. Is that going to be at 154 or 160?
MIGUEL COTTO: I don’t know, you know. We’re going to discuss that with my guys, with all our people, and we’re going to get our decision.
Q. With this fight coming up on Saturday against Kamegai, you’re going to be getting an opportunity to fight for another world title. You’ve won a bunch of them already in your career. You’ve fought so many top-notch opponents. I’m wondering, as you think back and the 16-year great career that you’ve had, could you identify what you believe to be your greatest performance and your biggest win and why?
MIGUEL COTTO: I enjoyed my whole career. I believe that if anything from the beginning didn’t happen in my career, I wouldn’t have the career that I’ve had. You know, I’ve enjoyed my whole career, and I don’t want to point to any opponent, to any fight. I think that my whole career has been great for world boxing.
Q. Favorite win, like maybe the rematch with Margarito or your victory against Shane Mosley or Zab Judah or some of the bigger wins you’ve had?
MIGUEL COTTO: You know, I enjoy everything. The victory against Mosley, the rematch against Margarito, but at the end of the road, I’m really proud of the kind of career that I’ve had.
Q. Obviously, your fight, from what they said, nearly sold out at the StubHub Center. You’re going to be live on HBO, but obviously, everybody knows there’s another big event happening this weekend between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor. Do you feel in any way overshadowed by the hoopla surrounding that fight, where sometimes the attention may be thrown towards the Miguel Cotto fight instead, and your thoughts on that situation?
MIGUEL COTTO: I arrived here in L.A. at the beginning of July to start my training time. I’ve only come here with one thing on my mind, and that’s just getting ready for Kamegai. And I’ve been doing a great job here in L.A., and I have no time and no space in my mind to think about another thing, you know?I’m just ready for Kamegai. I’m just thinking about the Kamegai fight, and whatever or whoever has another fight on the same day, they have to think about their fight.
Q. Miguel, this is your first fight in nearly two years. That brings you a lot of pressure once stepping into the ring?
MIGUEL COTTO: I’m just taking my time off to be with my family, to do things that I want to do. And as soon as I got here in L.A., my mind goes back to boxing. And I’ve been training hard.
Q. Do you feel ready? You said earlier that you feel more mature because of the time that you’ve had off the ring. Is that going to be a difference in this fight on Saturday?
MIGUEL COTTO: I’ve been here doing whatever Freddie wants me to do. Just preparing for the fight plan for Kamegai on the 26th, and that’s all I’ve been doing here, you know? I’ve been doing the best of me, bringing the best of me every day, and that’s all I can say.
Q. Miguel, I’m wondering, do you think there is a possibility that you would continue your career if you scored some big win in December? I know you go for big challenges. Is there anything that could persuade you to stay?
MIGUEL COTTO: No. The decision is already made. I’m leaving on December 31st, no matter what happens with my career.
Q. I know you’ve been off for almost two years, but I know you also had the camp of Kirkland. Do you think that that makes sure that you won’t have as much ring rust as you might usually have since you’ve had another camp this year?
MIGUEL COTTO: No, I just took my time off to be with my family and heal whatever I have to heal in my body. I arrived here all ready to train, and that’s what we’re doing here, just training, training, training for Kamegai.
Q. Kamegai has been in a lot of excellent wars. Do you expect another one of those Saturday?
MIGUEL COTTO: I’m going to do my fight. I’m going to do my fight that Freddie and I planned here to do on Saturday, and let’s see what Kamegai’s going to bring on Saturday.
Q. I believe this is your first fight at the StubHub Center. Are you looking forward to it? And what do you think it will be like for you?
MIGUEL COTTO: The people from L.A. always treat me really good. I know that the tickets are going — selling in a really good way. And I know that’s going to be a special night for everybody in the boxing community here in L.A.
Q. This is for both fighters. You both come from countries with a very proud, strong boxing tradition. Do you feel that responsibility to represent your home countries in that way?
MIGUEL COTTO: I’m always here to bring my best, to do my best, to do whatever it takes to get the victory and make my family and the people around me and myself better. I’m coming with the same kind of mindset, and I’m going to do my best on August 26th.
Q. I’d also like Yoshihiro to answer that question if he’s still on the line.
YOSHIHIRO KAMEGAI: Yes, I am from Japan. We’re different race, from a different country, but at the end of the day I’m here to give the fans what they’re looking for. There are people that obviously root for Miguel and also some people that root for me as well. So I’m just here to put on an entertaining fight.
Q. I have one final question for Miguel. You just had a very successful promotion under your new banner. Are you looking forward to that next stage in your boxing career? Do you think it gives you an advantage having been in the ring so long to be able to visit young fighters under your banner as a promoter?
MIGUEL COTTO: I’m just trying to return to boxing what I got from boxing, you know? I want to give boxers what boxing gave to me in my career. That’s all I have on my mind. I want to help them. I want to bring their opportunities to show their skills in boxing, and that’s all I wanted to do with boxing.
Q. Yoshihiro, you don’t really look like a boxer. You look more like an actor or a model or something. How did you get into boxing? Was that always what you wanted to do when you were young?
YOSHIHIRO KAMEGAI: I think I was 13 when I decided that I wanted to box. I don’t remember what I wanted before, but I was 13 when I decided that I wanted to box.
Q. Has your style changed over the years, or did it change when you came to fight in the United States? Or have you always had the same fighting style?
YOSHIHIRO KAMEGAI: It changes when I came to the States. In Japan I was more of a technical fighter with good defense. I was aggressive, but I was known for my defenses. But coming to the States, I knew to win here I had to be more aggressive and be not so technical but a more aggressive fighter.
Q. What has been your impression of fighting here in the United States? What’s been your impression of the whole atmosphere, the whole fighting scene?
YOSHIHIRO KAMEGAI: When I fight in the United States, I’m much more motivated. Especially with the reaction from the fans and the crowd. I feel that I enjoy fighting here, and it’s probably the best platform to be fighting at.
Q. Yoshihiro, a lot has been made of Miguel Cotto’s time off, 20 months or so, but you’ve been out of the ring since your rematch win over Jesus Soto Karass. Were you waiting on a big fight like this before returning, or did you have other things going on that just fell through?
YOSHIHIRO KAMEGAI: Yes, pretty much, I was told that the fight was in the works back in March. It got extended a little bit. But I was hopeful that this would materialize, so, yes, I was waiting for a big fight like this.
Q. And I wanted to ask you if there was any different training at 154 pounds than when he was fighting at welterweight? Was there less pressure to make weight in training camp?
YOSHIHIRO KAMEGAI: Yes, going up in weight was easier for me to get in better condition. I think that I felt I had better speed and I had more strength.
Q. Miguel, my question for you is that you’re insisting that you’re going to retire at the end of this year, and you’re a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. My question for you is what do you feel like you still have to accomplish in boxing that made you want to come back? Because it feels like you’ve accomplished everything already.
MIGUEL COTTO: All I want to do is finish my career in the best way possible. That’s the reason that I’ve been working hard at this stage of my career. And all I want for me is to finish this in the best way possible.
Q. Since you fought Canelo in the past, and he’s fighting Golovkin in less than 30 days, can you give a breakdown of the fight, your prediction?
MIGUEL COTTO: Of what fight?
Q. I’m sorry, Canelo versus Golovkin, your opinion on the fight.
MIGUEL COTTO: I have no opinions. I’m really busy doing my work here in L.A. for Yoshihiro Kamegai, and I have nothing to think about of thinking about the Canelo and Golovkin. That’s their own fight, and they have to think about that.
Q. Miguel, at this juncture of your career, why did you decide to start with Golden Boy and have them promote your last two fights as a professional, given the fact that you’ve left Roc Nation, you had relationships with other promoters throughout the years? Why was Golden Boy a good fit for you at this juncture in your career?
MIGUEL COTTO: The relationship between us has always been a good one, you know? Really professional between us. And the way we are feeling with them is the way it has to be, you know? His company is working really good and invest with us and decide with us, and we are happy to be here again.
Q. Miguel, you’ve obviously had a long, successful career with a bunch of big fights. As soon as you win this fight, has there been any consideration to have your last fight in Puerto Rico? I know that’s part of the reason why you signed with Oscar and Golden Boy was to help promote boxing in your island which has a very proud tradition. Any consideration for having your final fight in Puerto Rico?
MIGUEL COTTO: We are going to do the next fight in the place that is the smartest place to do it. I don’t know. I didn’t have this communication with Golden Boy yet, but we are going to have news soon.
Q. Question for Kamegai. Obviously, all the attention has gone to Miguel Cotto for this fight, he’s the star, been established for a long time. Do you feel disrespected in any way as if there’s a foregone conclusion that Miguel is going to win the fight and that you’re just merely a stepping stone in this event?
YOSHIHIRO KAMEGAI: I’m the fighter that’s actually fighting, and I can’t tell you what other people are thinking. So it’s probably a question for them more than for me.
Q. Miguel, last question for you. Assuming you win this fight, I know you’ve said several times on this call that December 31st is your last fight, you’ve been known to be a part of big fights, so are we correct to assume that your final fight will be against someone very popular and that all the fans know?
MIGUEL COTTO: We are going to do the fight with whichever is going to be the best option on the table.
Q. Miguel, what if — after your retirement, there are many who think that this is the end of an era, of a very important era in Puerto Rican boxing. Puerto Rican boxers are not having the same success they’ve had over the course of history. What do you think is the state right now of Puerto Rican boxing, and what do you think the future will be after you retire, considering that you’re going to keep working with the Puerto Rican talent?
MIGUEL COTTO: You know, the future of boxing is whatever we want it to be. We have to work hard and make them believe, make them work hard, as you have to work for boxing, and the whole world is in the hands of every Puerto Rican.
Q. Do you think there is a major problem, a specific problem in Puerto Rican boxing right now that the industry must tend to?
MIGUEL COTTO: I don’t know, you know. All I can talk about is about my career. I can talk about my company. I can’t say that we have a problem in Puerto Rico because I don’t really know, you know.