It will be an emotional night this Saturday for Puerto Rico and Miguel Cotto fans as the four-weight world champion fights for the last time against Sadam Ali at the Madison Square Garden in New York, closing the curtains on a glittering 16-year career.
Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) defends his WBO world super-welterweight title against Golden Boy Promotions fighter Ali (25-1, 14 KOs) on December 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
In a year filled with high-profile boxers announcing their retirements from the sport, the 36-year-old Puerto Rican star will have his final farewell live on HBO.
This fight is similar to Floyd Mayweather’s initial retirement against Andre Berto over two years ago in September 2015. It’s not a fight anyone called for or wanted to see, and many felt it was a bit of kop out for a swan song.
This is best described as Cotto’s retirement party against an over-matched opponent. Despite many tuning in to HBO, it doesn’t promise to be a scintillating fight.
Cotto could have fought former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux, but when he went with welterweight Sadam Ali, the Canadian landed a world title fight with WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders instead on December 16 in his home country.
The 29-year-old Beijing 2008 U.S Olympian Sadam Ali wasn’t the first choice of opponent, Golden Boy attempted to get Errol Spence Jr., Danny Garcia and even lightweight Mikey Garcia to agree to the fight with the future Hall of Famer. None would agree to the terms of the contract, assuming that money was the main issue, although the deal came with a three-fight clause, apparently, that meant the fighter would have been locked into a long-term contract.
Ali, who was knocked out in the ninth round by Jessie Vargas in March last year in a fight for the vacant WBO welterweight title, is moving up in weight to take on Cotto.
It’s not a good sign that the light-hitting Vargas was able to overpower Ali, who made him look like a knockout artist, which was the first stoppage win Vargas had in five years.
The former US Olympian has skills, which shows in a reputable amateur and professional record, but he will be out of his depth against the legend he is about to face, and could be susceptible to the power the heavier weight class will bring.
Cotto easily defeated Yoshihiro Kamegai in his last bout to land the WBO belt vacated by former conqueror Canelo. It was a comfortable 12-round unanimous decision win last August for Junito against the No.6 ranked WBO contender.
This fight promises to be much of the same, a relaxed win for Cotto to ease himself into a retirement or maybe even a stoppage to go out with a bang. The eighth round sticks out for me, if you’re having a punt – last chance you will ever get to place a bet on a Cotto fight.
He will bow out gracefully and most certainly enter the prestigious Hall of Fame having won championships in four different weight classes, beating the likes of Shane Mosley, Zab Judah, Antonio Margarito, Sergio Martinez, and Paulie Malignaggi.
Junito recently turned 37 and deserves to enjoy a rest from the sport that he so clearly loves with the same passion that his fans in Puerto Rico and all over the world love him.