Miguel Cotto is 37 years old now, the reigning WBO junior middleweight champion after a successful return to action in August, and now, he’s got one more fight lined up.
On December 2, the four-division world champion from Puerto Rico will enter the ring for what he claims will be the final time in his legendary career, one that will land him rightfully in the Hall of Fame sooner than later.
He’ll be facing Sadam Ali, eight years his junior, moving up from the welterweight division, where Cotto fought from 2006-09.
In a conference call with the media and both fighters this week, Cotto (41-5, 33 KO) didn’t talk at all in any specifics about his matchup with Ali (25-1, 14 KO). He wasn’t even really asked about the fight itself.
Instead, journalists wanted to hear from him about the supposed retirement, about leaving boxing behind, which is almost always tricky for any fighter to do.
And Cotto sounded like he has no regrets.
“I'm good,” he told the media. “I just want to start a new life and a better life with my family, not being away from them and just take advantage of every moment with them. That's all I want.”
Regrets or no, fighters are very often lured back into the ring, either for money, simply because they can’t get that competitive fire to burn out, or both.
Oscar De La Hoya, promoter for the event, who at 44 recently said he’s looking to make his own one-fight comeback, says he really doesn’t think we’ll see Cotto fight again.
“Obviously, there's many reasons why a fighter can choose to come back, but a fighter like Miguel Cotto, he has everything he needs, most importantly, his family,” De La Hoya said.
“He has a whole island that supports him, that is with him 100 percent. Millions of people who supported him all over the world, so there's no reason. He has one last chance, and believe me, he's obviously training to give everyone the best show possible. I believe we're going to see the best Miguel Cotto we've seen on December 2nd.
“I believe him when he says this is his last fight.”
Cotto couldn’t (or wouldn’t) pinpoint a single win that was his “biggest” or “most satisfying,” saying instead, “I enjoyed my whole career. Every victory became part of my career, and I'm happy with the way my career is going, the way my career is going to end on December 2nd, and I'm really happy with my whole career.”
But he did say this his 2005 victory over Ricardo Torres was the fight that helped him break through.
“It was the way the fight was happening that night, and the way I woke up from the canvas,” he said, recalling the exciting, action-packed night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. “It was the fight that put Miguel Cotto on the map.”
And since the names often can’t come up without someone bringing up the other, Cotto addressed his rival Antonio Margarito, too, saying that their rematch in 2011 set the record straight.
“I was just showing people what happened in the first fight, that was over. Everybody knows what happened in the first fight,” he said, alluding to suspicion that Margarito had loaded gloves when they met in 2008.
It’s no secret that Sadam Ali, a good fighter, to be sure, was not the opponent fans wanted to see Cotto face in a farewell matchup. Trainer Freddie Roach talked a little about that.
“You know, Triple G and Canelo would be great opponents, and we look forward to fighting them, but they all have obligations before, and the next best guy was the young guy coming up, the next generation. We are getting a chance at that, and we'll see how good he really is,” he said.
“Miguel will be on top of his game. And, again, we would have loved to go out with one of the bigger names, but the thing is they're not available at this point, and we want to stay busy.”
For De La Hoya, who surely would have loved to promote a bigger-money fight than this one, there’s still plenty to be said for Cotto-Ali at MSG.
“I mean, look, everything happens for a reason. Miguel Cotto has had a stellar career, an amazing career,” Oscar said. “He's fighting in the main fight against Sadam Ali, and he's fighting in his second hometown, which is New York at the Garden, and fighting on HBO live. There's no disappointment whatsoever. Everything is all positive.”
He added, “Miguel Cotto deserves this chance of a lifetime. Imagine that, going out on top or vying to go out on top, on HBO, in front of your hometown in New York at the Garden against a great fighter like Ali. This is another great opportunity for the boxing fans and for Miguel Cotto.’
In the end, the decision to step away (and the potential decision to come back again) come down to one man: Miguel Cotto.
“I've been blessed. You know, I had a wonderful career, and all I can say is that every moment in the gym, every moment on the track was — my fight was a reflection of every hard moment of training, and I'm really happy and blessed for that,” he said.
“I was just a kid who wanted to be a boxer, then became a man. All I did in my life, in my career, was try to do my best. It's not my job to put myself in any position. I just tried to do my best every day.”