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Miguel Cotto vs. Sadam Ali possible for Dec.2

Image: Miguel Cotto vs. Sadam Ali possible for Dec.2

By Dan Ambrose: WBO junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) is being talked about fighting welterweight Sadam Ali (25-1, 14 KOs) for December 2 on HBO Boxing at Madison Square Garden in New York. Ali, 29, is a 2008 U.S Olympian, and he is promoted by Golden Boy, the same company that promotes Cotto.

Cotto Sadam Ali, a fringe contender at welterweight, isn’t a fight that the boxing public is interested in seeing.

This move isn’t all that surprising. You can argue that Cotto only ever wanted to fight a rematch against Saul Canelo Alvarez for December. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and David Lemieux had been mentioned as possibilities for Cotto’s December 2 fight on HBO, but it’s clear neither of them ever had a chance of getting a fight against him. With Cotto likely to face the little known Sadam Ali, who was knocked out recently, it frees up Lemieux to go after a title shot against WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders. Lemieux is ranked No.1 with the World Boxing Organization right now. Lemieux got some free press with the talk of Cotto possibly facing him. That helped Golden Boy, Lemieux’s promoters.

Cotto had been recently linked with potentially facing former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux on the December 2 card. Lemieux is also with Golden Boy. However, Lemieux is a middleweight without knockout power in either hand. He would be a real threat to not only sending the36-year-old Cotto into retirement, but sending him into retirement with a knockout loss.

Lemieux being mentioned as a possible opponent for the 5’7” Cotto was never taken seriously by boxing fans, as they felt that there was no chance the WBO 154lb. champion would accept a risky fight with the powerful Canadian. The only way the Cotto-Lemieux fight would have had a chance of taking place would be for Lemieux o fight Cotto at a catch-weight below 160.

”Multiple sources with knowledge of the conversations, told ESPN that Cotto, the only Puerto Rican man to win world titles in four weight classes, likely will defend his title against Sadam Ali in his final fight,” said Dan Rafael of on Saturday.

What makes Sadam Ali such a poor option for Cotto is he’s not well known, he’s fighting in the 147 lb. division, and he was recently knocked out last year by Jessie Vargas in the 9th round on March 5, 2016. The good news is, Vargas has won his last 3 fights, beating journeyman Saul Corral, Jorge Silva and Johan Perez. The win over Perez was a good one. The other 2 wins for Ali were nothing to get excited about, as those guys are journeyman.

Ali is ranked #7 WBA and #8 IBF. If the Cotto-Vargas fight gets made, Cotto would be doing Golden Boy a big favor by facing Vargas, as it increases his value and name recognition, which obviously a good thing for the promotional company. The bad thing is Vargas hasn’t shown the kind of talent that would suggest that he’ll ever win a world title.

What’s the point of Cotto increasing Vargas’ popularity if he’s never going to be good enough to beat WBA/WBC champion Keith Thurman or IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. If the move is just to get Ali a payday, then that’s fine. It’s just that it’s not a great fight, Cotto facing Ali on HBO, for what is said to the Puerto Rican star’s final fight of his boxing career. Cotto is supposed to be retiring.

It’s obviously not a good thing that Sadam Ali was knocked out in the 9th round last year by Jessie Vargas. That guy isn’t considered a big puncher. Vargas dominated by Tim Bradley in losing 11 out of 12 rounds of their fight on June 27, 2015. Vargas was beaten soundly by Manny Pacquiao last year on November 5, 2016. Ali lost easily to Vargas. If Cotto is only interested in fighting a welterweight, he might as well fight the guy that knocked Ali out in Jessie Vargas instead of fighting Ali. It just looks like cherry picking by Cotto.

It’s going to be tough for Golden Boy Promotions to get the boxing public interested in seeing Cotto fight Sadam Ali on December 2. It was rumored that the only reason HBO televised Cotto’s mismatch on August 26 against Yoshihiro Kamegai is because it was thought that Cotto would turn around and fight a good opponent for his December 2 card at Madison Square Garden in New York. Cotto-Kamegai was a dreadful fight, with Cotto beating the slow as molasses Japanese fighter by a one-sided 12 round decision. It was a mismatch. There at least a dozen better fighters in the 154 lb. division than Kamegai, and yet that’s the guy that Cotto chose to fight instead of a better contender.

Cotto doesn’t need to pick out an obscure welterweight like Sadam Ali for his December 2 fight. There are plenty of top junior middleweights for Cotto to fight like Jermell Charlo, Erickson Lubin, Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout, Jarrett Hurd and Julian Williams. Those guys would jump at the chance to fight Cotto.

Before Sadam Ali’s name was mentioned today as a possible opponent for Cotto, a lot of boxing fans have speculated that he would fight a welterweight like Kell Brook. One reason for that is because Cotto has shown interest in fighting lightweight Mikey Garcia on December 2. Garcia would have to move up in weight 3 divisions to fight Cotto at 154. It would have been a mismatch in size for Cotto. The boxing public hasn’t shown much interest in seeing Cotto fight Mikey Garcia. They wanted him to fight Lemieux or Golovkin if not Canelo.

If this is Cotto’s final fight of his career on December 2, then it has to be seen as a disappointment. Sadam Ali is not a great fighter. He’s not even a major player at 147. He’s a fringe contender. It looks like HBO got a bad deal in televising Cotto’s last fight against Kamegai, and now they’re going to get another bad one in Cotto possibly facing Sadam Ali. I guess it only turns out good for the network if they agree to televise fighters against certain guys rather than just choosing to televise them no matter who they fight.

Will HBO green-light a mismatch between Cotto and Ali? If HBO was thinking they would get a good fight from Cotto this time around, they might not be too pleased at hearing the news of him facing Sadam Ali. If you view the fight as a sendoff to Cotto, then it’s sort of okay. But it’s still not a good fight for the boxing public, Cotto facing Ali. The boxing fans already saw a mismatch between Cotto and Kamegai last August. It would be better for the fans to see Cotto go out on a high note rather than hand-picking a recently knocked out welterweight in Sadam Ali. Cotto vs. Ali would be a decent undercard fight in my opinion. I could see it as the opening fight of a broadcast or a good off TV fight that could be seen on the internet. Cotto-Ali is a terrible fight for a main event.

Personally, I’d rather see Cotto fight Antonio Margarito in a third fight than seeing him face Sadam Ali. Cotto-Margarito 3 would be a terrible fight, but it’s infinitely better than seeing Cotto beat up on a fighter that was recently knocked out by Jessie Vargas.

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