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Miguel Cotto vs. Sadam Ali in retirement fight on Dec.2

Image: Miguel Cotto vs. Sadam Ali in retirement fight on Dec.2

By Dan Ambrose: For boxing fans interested in seeing 4-division world champion Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) fight for the final time in his career, the 36-year-old Puerto Rican star will be in action in less than 2 months from now against Golden Boy Promotions fighter Sadam Ali (25-1, 14 KOs) on December on HBO World Championship Boxing at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The tickets for the Cotto-Ali fight will go on sale next week on December 17. The kickoff press conference for the Cotto vs. Ali fight will also be taking place on December 17.
Cotto-Ali starts at 10pm ET/7pm PT on HBO Boxing.

Cotto vs. Ali is similar to Floyd Mayweather’s retirement fight against Andre Berto 2 years ago in September 2015. The difference is Berto was a lot more accomplished fighter with more boxing ability than what Sadam Ali has shown thus far. It’s the same type of mismatch though. Ali has virtually no chance of beating Cotto on December 2.

This is Cotto’s retirement party in facing the over-matched Ali. HBO will televise it, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a good fight unfortunately. I think of at least 20 fighters at 147 and 154 that would be better than Vargas for Cotto to fight.

Cotto could have fought former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux, but he went with welterweight Sadam Ali. Not choosing Lemieux could hurt the ratings for fight. But with the fight not being on HBO PPV, it doesn’t matter that Cotto didn’t select Lemieux. Cotto will get the same money. Lemieux has decided not to fight on Cotto’s career now that he’s been passed over for the fight. Lemieux will be fighting at a later date against WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders if the fight can be made. The WBO ordered the Saunders vs. Lemieux fight this week.

The 29-year-old 2008 U.S Olympian Sadam Ali wasn’t the first choice for Cotto. Golden Boy attempted to get Errol Spence Jr., Danny Garcia and even lightweight Mikey Garcia to agree to the fight with Cotto. None of them would do it. Mikey said that he came close to agreeing to the Cotto fight, but it wasn’t the right deal for him. He spoke to his father and decided not to take the fight. There’s talk of Mikey needing to agree to a multi-fight options package with Golden Boy for him to get the fight with Cotto, and he wasn’t ready to commit to that many fights.

Ali, who was knocked out in the 9th round last year by Jessie Vargas in a fight for the vacant WBO welterweight title on March 5, will be moving up in weight to take the fight with Cotto a 154. It’s not a good sign that the light hitting Vargas was able to bat Ali around the ring. Ali made Vargas look like a knockout artist in that fight. Ali could not handle Vargas’ power at all. Hopefully for HBO’s sake they have a good co-feature bout so that the boxing fans aren’t left with a disappointing night due to the likely non-competitiveness for the Cotto vs. Ali fight.

It’s frankly very surprising that HBO agreed to televise the Cotto vs. Ali fight, because it’s the second mismatch in a row involving Cotto. His last fight was a real eyesore against high level journeyman fighter Yoshihiro Kamegai, who Cotto easily beat by a 12 round unanimous decision on August 26. Kamegai was technically a contender at No.6 in the World Boxing Organization’s rankings, but he was clearly little more than a journeyman that the was given an high ranking that he hadn’t done much to earn. Cotto vs. Ali is about as bad a mismatch as Cotto’s fight with Kamegai. With Ali moving up in weight, and not having good power or much in the punch resistance, you can argue that this is a worse fight than Cotto-Kamegai.

At least with Kamegai, he was able to soak up punishment for 12 rounds without getting knocked out. It wasn’t entertaining to watch in the slightest, but Kamegai did a good job of making Cotto look good for this fight. Had this been Cotto in the ring with a talented junior middleweight like Jermell Charlo, Erislandy Lara, Jarett Hurd or Erickson Lubin, he likely would have lost badly. Those are young and good fighters. Kamegai is just a guy that was picked out for Cotto to showcase his talent against while winning the vacant WBO 154lb. tile. Sadam Ali is too weak and fragile-chinned for him to beat Cotto in my opinion. Ali does have good boxing skills for the 147 lb. division, but so does most fighters in that division. Ali doesn’t stand out at all. The one thing Ali has going for him is he’s promoted by Golden Boy. Once you get past that, Ali is just an average contender with no special effects about him.

“I’m very excited to be back in the ring for my final fight at The Garden. I’ve worked really hard my entire career to be at this level,” Cotto said. “I am fully concentrated on getting together with Freddie Roach so we can work hard and have a great victory on December 2.”

Cotto wanted to fight Saul Canelo Alvarez and supposedly Gennady Golovkin. They weren’t available to fight him. Golovkin probably wouldn’t have gotten the fight with Cotto anyway. As I mentioned previously, Cotto had the chance to fight former IBF middleweight champion Lemieux, but he chose not to make the fight. Lemieux wouldn’t have moved down from 160 to fight Cotto at 154, and the Puerto Rican star wouldn’t have gone up to 160 to fight him. The only way Cotto-Lemieux would have worked is if the two of them could have agreed to a catch-weight between 154 and 160.

Lemieux is too big to fight at a catch-weight. Cotto was recently the WBC middleweight champion after beating the injured 40-year-old past his prime Sergio Martinez in 2014 in a catch-weight fight. However, Cotto was an old and injured over-the-hill fighter in Sergio Martinez. That wasn’t a prime Sergio Martinez. If it had been, Cotto would have had a great deal of problems. The catch-weight that Cotto had for the Sergio Martinez fight was entirely not needed. With Martinez having a bad knee problem and being older at 40, that was more than enough of a handicap for Cotto to win. But with the catch-weight, it completely tilted all the advantages in Cotto’s favor for the Martinez fight.

Sadam Ali isn’t ranked in the WBO’s top 15 at junior middleweight, as this is his first time fighting at 154. Ali is ranked #7 WBA and #8 IBF. At one time, Ali was rated highly by the WBO, but not since his knockout loss to Vargas in 2016.

Ali has past wins over these fighters at 147:

Francisco Santana

Luis Carlos Abregu

Johan “El Terrible” Perez

“I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to fight a legend in Madison Square Garden in front of all my fans and on HBO,” said Ali. “My time is now. I will leave the Garden with the championship belt.”

It’s extremely unlikely that Ali will be able to beat Cotto on December 2. Ali doesn’t punch hard, he’s not super talented, and his chin is suspect. The fact that Ali was knocked out by Jessie Vargas tells you all you need to know about his chances of beating Cotto in this fight. Ali needs to at least try and avenge his loss to Vargas. Even if Ali can’t get a rematch with Vargas due to him being with Top Rank, he should at least be matched someone good to see whether he’s improved. I’m talking about someone good from the 147 pound division, not the junior middleweight division. Cotto fights at 154, and she be fighting someone from that division for his final fight of his career instead of a welterweight that was recently knocked out.

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