- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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The fight of the summer is signed, sealed and delivered.
Welterweight titleholder Miguel Cotto will face Antonio Margarito on July 26 in an HBO PPV bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas now that both have signed for the much-anticipated fight, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com on Thursday.
"I get really excited about a fight like this because I know it can't be anything but great," Arum said. "That's why we're calling it 'The Battle.' It's a tough-ass fight. Two real men fighting. There won't be any playing around. No ducking or dodging. These are two guys who will go at it. That is their style. And don't forget the element that it is Mexico vs. Puerto Rico, which is the great rivalry in boxing."
The fight matching two of boxing's most exciting fighters has been on track since April 12, when they both knocked out opponents on the same card.
Cotto (32-0, 26 KOs), of Puerto Rico, stopped "Contender" star Alfonso Gomez in the fifth round to retain his 147-pound belt for the fourth time and Margarito blew out Kermit Cintron via sixth-round knockout in a rematch.
"These guys both have great chins, great determination and great power," Arum said. "It's going to be some battle. I just hope that they are not ruined from a fight like this."
Mexico's Margarito (36-5, 26 KOs) won a world title from Cintron, but he will relinquish it in order to face Cotto rather than fight Joshua Clottey in a far less lucrative mandatory match. Arum said Margarito would officially renounce his title "within the next week."
Before Margarito, 30, defeated Cintron, he had already agreed to terms for the Cotto fight as long as they both won on April 12, Arum said. Cotto, 27, was also committed to the fight, but did not sign until Wednesday night, Arum said.
"Margarito signed off before his fight with Cintron," Arum said. "Cotto wanted the fight but we were going over terms and minutia, and finally Miguel and his team agreed on everything last night."
Arum would not divulge their purses, which will eventually be public when the contracts are filed with the Nevada State Athletic Commission. However, Arum said each would receive "by far the biggest purse they have ever gotten." Besides the purse, each fighter will receive a percentage of the profits from the pay-per-view revenue.
Cotto's biggest purse was $3.2 million for his November victory against Shane Mosley. Margarito earned a $1.2 million purse when he lost a version of the title to Paul Williams last summer.
The fight will officially be announced during a four-city media blitz next week. They'll kick off the promotion with a news conference Monday in Mexico City followed by a stop Tuesday in Los Angeles, Thursday in New York and Friday in San Juan.
The fight will mark Cotto's first bout in Las Vegas since he knocked out Randall Bailey in a junior welterweight title defense on the December 2004 undercard of the Vitali Klitschko-Danny Williams heavyweight fight.
Since then, Cotto has fought either in Puerto Rico, New York or Atlantic City, N.J. Arum said he felt it was important to establish Cotto on the West Coast, where Margarito has a following.
"Based on Cotto's fights with Zab Judah and Mosley, he has established a good East Coast base on pay-per-view," Arum said. "We felt his base would be loyal and we needed a big West Coast presence. We think the great Mexican fans will come out for Margarito, so it made sense to do the fight in the West rather than the East. We couldn't do it in Las Vegas until they changed the rule on the gloves."
A few weeks ago, the Nevada commission amended its rule on glove size. It had in place a provisional rule that mandated welterweights wear 10-ounce gloves rather than the traditional 8-ounce gloves worn in virtually every other jurisdiction in the world. Cotto and Margarito both prefer the 8-ounce gloves and Arum refused to put the fight on in Nevada until the temporary rule, which was up for review, was changed.
Arum said he has not set the undercard yet but said he wanted to include rising junior welterweight contender Mike Alvarado on the card.
"Alvarado is one guy I really want on the card in a good fight," Arum said. "After that, we're open. I'll be discussing it with my matchmakers."
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.
16hEthan Sherwood Strauss