CHORLEY boxer Michael Jennings has deserted his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day but has vowed to deliver her a late present – the WBO world welterweight title courtesy of victory over Miguel Cotto.

Jennings flies to New York today in preparation for the biggest fight of his life against Puerto Rican Cotto at Madison Square Garden next Saturday.

That means spending Valentine’s Day apart from partner Zoe.

But a shock victory against Cotto, a former two-weight world champion who is regarded as one of the biggest names in world boxing, would transform the career of the 31-year-old WBU champion.

“I like to wine and dine my missus on Valentine’s Day, but this year I’m be spending it travelling to New York – and in a no-nonsense gym in the Bronx where I’m headed as soon as we touch down,” said Jennings.

“But if I win this fight it will make all the sacrifices worthwhile, because if I beat Cotto then I’ve made it into the big league. And she has already told me that the best present I can bring her back isn’t expensive perfume or a diamond ring – but the world title.

“There will be some huge fights down the line for me if I can win that belt.

“Training camp has gone really well, and I feel in the shape of my life.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been sharper, and unless Cotto is taking me 100 per cent seriously then he’s in for a nasty surprise.

“Obviously I’ve got a lot of respect for him because of what he has achieved at the highest level.

“But I’m not going to New York for a pay day. I’m going to win and to become a world champion.

“It’s what I’ve dreamed of for years.”

Cotto is the heavy favourite for the bout, which will be live on Setanta, despite suffering the first defeat of his career against Antonio Margarito last July.

The Puerto Rican had intended the Jennings fight to be the warm-up for a rematch with Margarito in the summer.

But that plan has now been shelved after Margarito was handed a 12-month ban for putting a plaster-like substance underneath his hand wraps for his January bout with Shane Mosley, which he lost in surprisingly convincing fashion in any case.

Mosley could now be next on Cotto’s list, but Brian Hughes believes the 28-year-old would be making a mistake by planning too far ahead at this stage.

Hughes is Jennings’ trainer and has warned Cotto not to underestimate the Chorley man.

“I can understand people saying Michael has no chance against Cotto,” said Hughes. “Yes, he has a mountain to climb, but if there is anybody who I would bet on climbing that mountain it would be Michael Jennings.

“People should remember that he is the number one contender.

“We have been planning how he will avoid Cotto’s body-punching.

“And hopefully if we do that then we have more than a fighting chance.”