Former three-division world titleholder Jorge Linares will eye a return to the win column when he faces Abner Cotto on Sept. 29 at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California, Golden Boy Promotions announced Wednesday.
Linares will face Cotto, a nephew of former four-division world champion Miguel Cotto, in the 12-round junior welterweight main event of a "Golden Boy Fight Night" card, which will be streamed live on Facebook Watch in the United States as part of the company's deal with the social media giant.
"Jorge Linares is recognized as one of boxing's best pound-for-pound fighters and demonstrated that in his long reign as lightweight champion," Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya said. "So, it's perfect that he's joining an illustrious list of headliners for this new Facebook partnership. Linares is a world-class fighter who has never been in a boring fight, and I know Abner Cotto will deliver a tough challenge in as he showcases his Puerto Rican boxing pedigree and relentless heart in the ring."
Linares (44-4, 27 KOs), 33, a Venezuela native fighting out of Las Vegas, is a former featherweight, junior lightweight and lightweight world titleholder who will be boxing for the first time since pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko knocked him out in the 10th round to take his lightweight belt on May 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York in one of the year's most significant fights.
Although Linares will fight Cotto in the junior welterweight division, Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez told ESPN that Linares might also fight in the lightweight division again after the bout.
"I am coming back hungrier than ever to demonstrate to the world that I am still one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world," Linares said. "I want those big fights and the world has not seen the best of me. With my new trainer and my team, we will demonstrate that I am more than capable in taking over this new [140-pound] division against a notable opponent in Abner Cotto. This Sept. 29, fans will see a determined Jorge Linares."
The fight will be Linares' first under trainer Jorge Zerpa, who replaces longtime trainer Ismael Salas, who was not available to train Linares for the Lomachenko fight, that task falling to Linares' brother and longtime assistant trainer Carlos Linares.
Cotto (23-3, 12 KOs), 31, of Puerto Rico, has won five fights in a row since former junior lightweight world titleholder Javier Fortuna knocked him out in the fifth round in November 2014. After that fight, Cotto moved up in weight to junior welterweight.
"I feel very excited for this new opportunity that this sport offers me," Cotto said. "I'm immensely grateful to my team and my promoters for bringing my career back to the highest. This is a sport where I have fallen, but with the support of my family, my people and the commitment of my team, I have returned with much more desire to achieve the goal I have always dreamed of since I was 10 years old, which is to challenge for a world title.
"My promoter has placed all its trust in me, and I will work tirelessly to achieve the goals set. Thanks to all who made this great fight possible. Expect one full of emotion."