By Paul Mason (@PaulMason1986)
This Saturday (December 2nd) sees another modern day great walk off into the sunset. In a year where Wladimir Klitschko, Juan Manuel Marquez and Floyd Mayweather have said their goodbyes to the sport, we add Puerto Rican buzz saw, Miguel Cotto to the ever growing list.
His swansong will be a defence of his recently won WBO Super Welterweight crown, in what should be a straightforward assignment, against the only once defeated, but limited Brooklynite, Sadam Ali. HBO Televise in the USA, and BoxNation is the place to see the fight here in the UK. Here is my preview.
Miguel Cotto (41-5, KO33) v Sadam Ali (25-1, KO14) 12×3 Rounds For The WBO Light Middleweight Title
Miguel Cotto bows out of the sport this weekend with nothing to prove. A future hall of fame place has long been assured, and win or lose, he bows out as a four weight World Champion from Super Lightweight to Middleweight. The posters for his final contest, against Sadam Ali, feature no pictures of the challenger, and his name in a considerably smaller font compared to the Puerto Rican. Make no mistake, this is all about Cotto and his swansong, although Ali will have other ideas about spoiling the farewell party.
After a decent unpaid career, where he represented Puerto Rico in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Miguel Cotto turned professional In 2001, with a second round stoppage win over Jason Doucet in Austin, Texas.
Twenty straight wins, including over the likes of respected operators in Justin Juuko (TKO5), Carlos Maussa (TKO8) and Lovemore N’Dou (Unanimous Decision) paved the way for a first shot at World glory. In his path stood the unbeaten, dangerous and mostly avoided Brazilian, Kelson Pinto. Pinto had defeated Cotto in the amateurs. The WBO Super Lightweight Title would be the prize. Cotto arrived on the World scene by stopping Pinto in six rounds, also knocking his man down in rounds two and five.
This elevated Cotto into World class company, and he defended his Title six times against quality operators. After Randall Bailey (TKO6) and DeMarcus Corley (TKO5) were vanquished, Cotto aveneged another amateur loss by stopping Muhammad Abdullaev, a man who dashed Cotto’s dreams by outpointing him in the 2000 Olympics, was stopped in nine. Further defences against Ricardo Torres (KO7) Gianluca Branco (TKO8) and Paulie Malignaggi (Unanimous) closed out the Super Lightweight chapter of Cotto’s career.
A move to Welterweight bought immediate reward. Cotto captured the WBA Title by stopping Carlos Quintana in five rounds. Four defences of the belt, again in good class (Oktay Urkal, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley and Alfonso Gomez) lead up to a defence in Vegas in July 2008 against the rugged Mexican, Antonio Margarito, in a bout that would change both fighters careers. Cotto was stunned as Margarito handed him a first defeat by stopping him in eleven thrilling rounds. It would later come to light following Shane Mosley’s fight with Margarito, the California State Athletic Commission revoked the licenses of Margarito and his trainer Javier Capetillo for a year in February 2009, after it was discovered before the fight that a plaster-like substance on illegal pads was found inside Margarito’s hand wraps. This was speculated to be the same case when Margarito fought Cotto.
Cotto rebuilt immediately, winning the WBO Welterweight Title in his very next fight by Stopping Chorley’s Michael Jennings in five rounds in New York. After squeaking past Joshua Clottey via split decision, Cotto would submit his Title to the whirling dervish, Manny Pacquiao, who was entering the prime of his career. In a dazzling masterclass, Pacquiao knocked Cotto down in rounds three and four, before forcing a stoppage in the last round of the contest.
The rebuild again was instant, this time at Super Welterweight. Cotto became a three weight World Champion when he stopped the brave but limited Yuri Foreman in nine rounds at the New York Yankees Baseball stadium in June 2010 to lift the WBA Title at the weight. He stopped Ricardo Mayorga in the last round in his maiden defence, and gained sweet revenge over Antonio Margarito in a grudge match, forcing the fight to be stopped in the ninth. Back to back defeats would follow however, as he put up a gallant effort in a points defeat to the pound for pound great, Floyd Mayweather, and then looked out of sorts and on the slide in a wide points defeat to Austin Trout for his old belt.
Cotto took a comeback win over Delvin Rodriguez (TKO3) before challenging the Middleweight number one, Sergio Martinez. Cotto captured the WBC Middleweight Title by forcing a tenth round stoppage over the injured Argentine, who was down three times in the first round. A routine defence against Australian Daniel Geale (TKO4) was followed up by a mega fight with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Canelo was simply one step ahead of his rival, and claimed a wide enough points win, as well as Cotto’s title. Curiously, all of Cottos fights at Middleweight were all under the weight limit, and he never weighed 160lbs once for any of his Middleweight bouts.
Cotto has had one fight since this, where he claimed the WBO Super Welterweight Crown by widely outscoring the tough as nails Japanese, Yoshihiro Kamegei in August this year. It’s fair to say Cotto is winding down now, and hasn’t looked his best for some time, but is still a fighter of the highest order, and will want to bring the curtain down on his sixteen year career in style this Saturday.
Sadam Ali is potentially the proverbial party pooper. Much like Joe Smith Junior was last year against the great Bernard Hopkins when extinguishing the Philadelphian’s career, Ali will look to do the same inside the iconic Madison Square Garden this Saturday night.
He certainly looks tailor made for Cotto’s last assignment. Ali is a career Welterweight, with only one fight above this weight. He only weighed 150lbs for that fight though, four pounds below the Super Welterweight limit.
Ali was a stellar amateur, representing the USA at the 2008 Olympics, where he suffered defeat in the opening round of the tournament. He would turn professional in January 2009, but his career has been pretty unspectacular so far. He built up a 22 fight unbeaten streak from 2009 to 2016, with possibly his best win coming against Argentine fringe contender, Luis Abregu, stopping him in nine rounds in November 2014. A unanimous points win over Francisco Santana in Madison Square Garden in April 2015, paved the way for a shot at the vacant WBO Welterweight Title against Jessie Vargas in Washington.
It would be a step up too far for the New Yorker, as Vargas stopped him in nine rounds to hand him a first career reverse. Three comeback wins have followed the Vargas setback, all against non-descript opposition in Saul Corral (Unanimous), Jorge Silva (KO3) and Johan Perez (Unanimous).
So on paper it seems like a walk in the park win for Miguel Cotto. The only doubt would be if Father Time has finally caught up with the Puerto Rican. I doubt this is the case, and I fully expect him to do a job on Ali, stopping him in the later rounds to put the exclamation mark on a superb career, and what a career it has been.
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