Miguel Cotto’s final fight didn’t go the way he wanted, but boxing got a new world champion in Sadam Ali, who pulled off the 12-round decision upset of the departing Puerto Rican superstar tonight at Madison Square Garden.
Scores for the fight were 115-113, 115-113, and 116-112 for Ali. BLH had it 115-113 and 116-112, also for Ali.
Ali (26-1, 14 KO) was too fresh and too fast tonight for Cotto (41-6, 33 KO), who leaves with the second loss of his career at his professional home away from home, Madison Square Garden. For his career, Cotto went 8-2 at the Garden, and became one of the biggest attractions in the famed venue’s history.
Cotto, 37, had said coming in that this would be his final fight, but there were doubts, of course. First of all, it’s boxing, where almost nobody leaves when they say they’re going to hang up the gloves. For another thing, he was expected to beat Ali, a 29-year-old, hand-picked opponent who was moving up from welterweight and had failed in his previous world title opportunity in 2016.
With a win, it stood to reason that Cotto would still be an attractive money option next year, perhaps for a rematch with Canelo Alvarez, perhaps for a fight with Gennady Golovkin. Would he be able to pass up that kind of money, even if he wanted to leave the sport behind to be with his family?
Now, the question almost surely won’t even be asked.
Sadam Ali was dismissed as a challenger for Cotto’s WBO junior middleweight title. He was expected to lose and lose clearly at that. Many felt he’d get stopped, as he’s shown a vulnerable chin in the past, and this was a step up in competition and weight for him.
But the night ended with Sadam Ali having his hand raised. The Brooklyn native wasn’t the crowd favorite, and the fans didn’t even give him respectful cheers when the fight was done. They were Cotto fans before boxing fans, most of them, sad to see their hero lose, surely many of them believing their man was robbed.
He was not. Cotto lost this fight, because Ali was better than him, particularly down the stretch. It was an even fight for about six rounds, with Ali showing some hand speed that clearly gave Cotto problems, hurting the defending champion multiple times. Ali, though, did not really capitalize on those chances, showing respect to Cotto, a great fighter and a resilient one, too, someone who has overcome being hurt in many fights over his career.
But after a strong pair of rounds for Cotto in the sixth and seventh, the fight got away from him. Cotto did reveal after the fight that he injured his biceps in the seventh frame, and for what it’s worth, it did appear that there was some visible damage on his arm.
Whatever the case, though, Ali was the better man in the final rounds of the fight, and he pulled away from the older man. By the 11th round, Cotto looked defeated, out of ideas, and, frankly, ready to spend time with his family, to stop the brutal grind of his boxing career.
Cotto spent much of the 12th and final round trying to bait Ali into staying still, but Ali stayed smart, boxing his way through those last three minutes, and when it was over, he had won.
Miguel Cotto’s professional boxing career began on February 23, 2001, when he beat Jason Doucet at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. He’s been in with most of the biggest names around him in the sport since then — Mayweather, Pacquiao, Mosley, Margarito, Martinez, Judah.
Just past Midnight in New York, rolling over to December 3, 2017, Miguel Cotto’s professional boxing career ended with a loss to Sadam Ali.
Cotto actually outlanded Ali in total punches, according to CompuBox, 163-139, and overall had a higher connect percentage, 30% to 21%. But in power punches, Ali outpaced Cotto, 122-108, and their percentages (34% for Cotto, 33% for Ali) were nearly identical.
Congratulations to Sadam Ali, the new WBO junior middleweight champion. And goodbye, we believe, to Miguel Cotto, one of the finest fighters of his generation, and someone who always gave us our money’s worth.