Cotto-Ali: A surprise defeat to end Miguel’s illustrious career

By Boxing News - 12/03/2017 - Comments

Image: Cotto-Ali: A surprise defeat to end Miguel's illustrious career

By Ahsan Jamil: Miguel Cotto (41-6, 33 KOs) lost a close 12-round unanimous decision fight against Sadam “World Kid” Ali (26-1,14 KOs) on Saturday night in his farewell fight. I had the fight 115-114 in favour of Sadam Ali. It was a close action fight for the most part but I think Ali did enough to win and perhaps could have even knocked Cotto down on a few occasions had he realized he had hurt him in Rounds 2, 4, 8 and 10.

The fight started off with Ali winning Rounds 1, 2 and 4 on my card before Cotto settled in and started connecting his jabs and left hooks to make it an entertaining bout. By the end of the 6th round, I had it 57-57. Rounds 7 and 8 were one a piece, and I scored Round 9 as a 10-10 draw, leaving the fight evenly poised going into the Championship rounds. In Rounds 10 and 11 Cotto started to fade while Sadam regained his earlier energy, finding his feet and started throwing good combination punches. I gave the last round to Cotto as he landed more punches and was the aggressor. In the post-fight interview Cotto claimed he injured his left bicep in Round 7 which led to him fading from that point onward.

Overall, it was a close and entertaining fight to watch with both fighters having success in different stages of the fight. Had the bicep not been torn, the outcome would probably have been different as Cotto had the momentum and could no longer use his trusted left hook.

There were similarities in this fight to the Pacquiao v. Horn fight earlier this year where the aging fighter lost a close fight to the younger up-and-coming fighter.

Cotto is a true warrior and despite the argument that he lost most of his big fights (Mayweather, Pacquiao and Canelo) it is his style of fighting that guarantee entertainment each time. All the fights he lost were exciting to watch for boxing fans and close contests.

A lot of fans feel that Sadam Ali was a “cherry pick” that backfired. However, it is likely that the selection of this opponent was not Cotto’s decision, but that of Golden Boy Promotions, his promoter. Cotto’s fans may have been hoping for a goodbye present but the promoters used this fight as an opportunity to boost a younger fighter’s profile. This was a set-up fight for Sadam Ali as Golden Boy probably knew he had a good chance of winning and becoming the new 154 WBO champion. This is obviously more favorable for both Golden Boy and HBO than Cotto retaining the belt and vacating it immediately after. With all other 154 champs fighting on Showtime and promoted by Al Haymon on PBC, having one belt keeps HBO and Golden Boy’s involvement in the division alive.

But credit where credit’s due, Sadam Ali proved he is a solid fighter and I did not give him much of a chance despite his age and speed advantage. Coming into this fight he claimed to have learned from his loss against Jessie Vargas and would prepare fully. It was clear that he had prepared well and came into the fight I had backed him to win as I do not rate Vargas as a fighter.

I would not call him an elite fighter just yet as he needs to prove that by defending his new belt against a strong opponent or two.

What next for Ali?

Ali’s most likely next opponent is Kell Brook as Eddie Hearn, Brook’s promoter, has confirmed that he will be moving up to 154 for his next fight and tweeted that the fight against Ali interests Kell. Hearn has recently partnered up with HBO through his Matchroom USA promotions, making this even more likely. This takes me back to my earlier point about the selection of Ali as Cotto’s final opponent being a set up as HBO and Golden Boy anticipated the future bout between Ali and Brook.

It is unlikely that Ali will be thrown in with the other champions in the division (Lara, Hurd and Charlo) as they are all Showtime / PBC fighters and Hurd vs. Charlo is likely to take place in 2018 in a unification bout, with the winner of that potentially facing Lara for another unification.

A possible option could be Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade which I believe would be good a fight. Andrade is the WBA Regular champion and looks to be a good talent even though he is yet to face notable opposition. He has also signed a new network contract with HBO last month, making this an easier fight to make.

Despite the defeat, the star of the show last night was always going to be Miguel Cotto. He is a legend has given us many great fights and moments to look back on in his career even when he has come up short. There are some boxing fans out there who do not give him the credit he deserves by claiming that he has won vacant belts or could not beat the best. Though this may be true, his record of being a 6 time world champion in 4 different weight classes speaks for itself. A future Hall of Famer that will be missed.

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