SAN DIEGO, Calif., December 1, 2017 – Four-division champion Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico is a sure bet for the Boxing Hall of Fame after he decides to hang up the gloves. At age 37, that day is here.
Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) fights what he says will be the last bout of his career against current WBA International Welterweight Champion Sadam “World Kid” Ali (25-1, 14 KOs), with Cotto’s WGO super welterweight title at stake. Fittingly, the fight takes place on boxing’s biggest and most prestigious stage, Madison Square Garden. It airs on HBO World Championship Boxing at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Despite endless speculation about whether Cotto is really going to retire, one of Puerto Rico’s greatest stars insists he is walking away for good. “”It’s been a pleasure for me to try to entertain you guys for 17 years. I have done my best at every opportunity for the benefit of my family. They mean everything to me and I am so proud of them and they are so proud of me.” Cotto repeatedly says his decision to walk away is to now give his family his full attention, while his mind and body are still healthy.
Cotto’s trainer Freddie Roach says it’s a sad moment for him to realize he’s had the last training camp with Cotto, “I’m going to miss Miguel a lot. (Wednesday) in the gym was the best I’ve ever seen Miguel. No one talked about retirement in camp. He’s in great shape and didn’t take anything lightly in camp. He’s going to go out on top.”
Cotto’s opponent must realize all eyes will be on the veteran, but Ali has plenty of pride and isn’t merely following a pre-determined script. “Thank you to Team Cotto for this opportunity. I’ve been training almost my whole life, since I was eight years old. Everyone wants an opportunity like this for a world title against a legend. If you’re not ready for a legend like Miguel Cotto then you’re going to be in trouble. On Saturday night you are going to see an amazing fight.”
This will be Cotto’s tenth appearance at the Garden, and his 24th appearance on HBO in his 16-year career. Cotto can fill the big room with his devoted Puerto Rican fans and many more admirers in the New York area. Not too many people can do this, and Cotto gets credit in large measure for keeping boxing’s legacy alive at Madison Square Garden during a low period when attention shifted west to Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Cotto’s had a reputation as a bit of a diva through his career. He has always been serious, low-key, and projects little emotion. People admire him, rather than love him. But Cotto is among the few boxers in the modern era who has never ducked an opponent. Never. He’s fought every big name in an accessible weight class, including Mayweather, Pacquiao, Mosley, Sergio Martinez, and Canelo Alvarez.
Cotto’s two fights with Antonio Margarito demonstrated his determination, and produced our favorite quote from the tactiturn Cotto ever after he defeated Margarito in the rematch: “He is dead to me.”
Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez frames Cotto’s accomplishments in the context of Saturday’s fight. “Miguel has fought at the Garden many times. This place is like a second home to him … It goes to show that when you believe in yourself, you’ll fight anyone. Saturday will be a great celebration and it will be a special night.”
See a compilation of Miguel Cotto’s greatest performances in the ring, assembled by HBO Sports.
Early in 2017 when Cotto indicated he would retire by the end of the year, Ringside Seat asked Cotto if he’d given thought to his legacy in the sport once he retires.
“My legacy? I can’t control what people can say about me after I’m retiring. But all I do in life is for my family, for my kids, and that’s is going to be my legacy, what they think about me.”
Joining Cotto and Ali on the television undercard are WBC World Super Bantamweight Champion Rey Vargas (30-0, 22 KOs) and NABF Bantamweight Champion Oscar “El Jaguar” Negrete (17-0, 7 KOs), who will fight for Vargas’s belt in the co-main event.
Vargas is coming off an impressive victory over the tough Ronny Rios. “I’m happy and motivated to be part of this great fight. Miguel Cotto is a great fighter, and I’m happy to be part of this card. I’m enthusiastic for this fight because Oscar Negrete is a great fighter, and he is coming for my title.
“You will see on Saturday why I am number one and why I would like to be number one forever. I am a champion, and I will do what Cotto did in his career – I want to be number one for the people. I’m ready for Saturday, and I’m going to give it my everything.”
Negrete is a native of Colombia now living and training in Southern California. He’s moving up in weight from bantamweight. He’s had two solid wins in the past few months, including an eighth-round knockout of Sergio Frias on June 30
Negrete said, “I want to thank Golden Boy Promotions for the opportunity to fight for this title. In order to become a champion you have to take these types of fighters on. I know that Rey is a great champion, but I am at a great moment in my career, and I am here to win the title.”
Negrete is a solid performer but doesn’t have the same explosive power as Vargas. He’s giving up 2.5 inches in height to Vargas, a tall super bantamweight at 5-foot-7.5. This is a tough assignment for Negrete, but he’s always found a way to win before. Someone ‘s going home disappointed with his first loss.
Cotto vs. Ali airs on HBO World Championship Boxing on Saturday, December 2, starting at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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