By Dan Ambrose: Sadam Ali (25-1, 14 KOs) is ready to send WBO junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) into retirement with a loss tonight. This is supposed to be Cotto’s celebration tonight with him being showered with praise from his boxing fans that will be watching him on HBO, as well as the fans that will be watching from Madison Square Garden in New York.
(Photo credit: Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions)
Ali was picked specifically to be the sacrificial lamb for Cotto to look good against tonight. Ali wants to spoil the plans of those who picked him out. Ali, 29, will need to do a lot if he wants to get a decision win, because you can bet that the close rounds will all be going to Cotto. He’s the more popular fighter of the two, and hat often counts when it comes to the judges scoring the fights.
“I’m a boxer but I can also punch here and there,” said Ali to Fighthype. “I use it at the right time. I’m different. It’s going to be an amazing fight. People probably think it’s going to be a walk through. I plan on changing their thoughts about that,” said Ali.
Ali hasn’t shown anyone yet that he has the talent to beat a fighter like Cotto. That’s the whole problem. Ali has fought only good fighter during his career, and he lost to that fighter in Jessie Vargas by a 9th round knockout. If Ali had beaten Vargas or someone else even more talented, then the boxing fans wouldn’t be dismissing him as the sacrificial lamb to make Cotto look better than he is.
Cotto is obviously very beatable. He’s been carefully matched though many of his fights during his career, and he’s lost to the best guys he’s faced. You can’t put Cotto in the same class as Jermell Charlo or even Austin Trout. Cotto already lost to Trout, and he never avenged the loss.
Cotto hasn’t done much since he moved up from the 140-lb. division. His best years in terms of solid wins were in the 140-lb. division. After Cotto moved up to 147, 154 and 160, he’s been matched against a lot of faded fighters, and with some of them with bad knees. Cotto’s accomplishments since moving up from 140 has been done largely over flawed fighters with pretty no wins against solid guys. Cotto has one solid win since moving out of the 140-lb. division and that was against Joshua Clottey. The rest of the guys were old, beaten up, or never that good to begin with.
”What happens after this, after I get this win, that’s the main motivation. I just feel like I have the tools. I’m not just a one type of fighter,” said Ali. ”I can change it up in there. You can have a mix of things in there. If you want to be great, you’ve got to have that,” said Ali.
It would be a good win for Sadam if he can defeat Cotto. I can’t say it would be a great win, because I don’t see Cotto as being the best at 154 or even the third best.
I rate Cotto at this level in the junior middleweight division:
1. Jermell Charlo
2. Erislandy Lara
3. Jarrett Hurd
4. Julian Williams
5. Maciej Sulecki
6. Austin Trout
7. Erickson Lubin
8. Liam Smith
9. Vanes Martirosyan
10. Miguel Cotto
The only reason Cotto is the WBO junior middleweight champion is because the World Boxing Organization installed him at No.1 after he was out of boxing for 2 years, and they let him fight journeyman level fighter Yoshihiro Kamegai for their WBO 154 lb. title. If the WBO had insisted on Cotto fighting one of the above fighters from my top 10 list, I think he would have lost. As such, it won’t be a huge upset if Sadam Ali defeats Cotto tonight. It would be just a win over a flawed and aging fighter, who really shouldn’t be a champion at this point in his career. The WBO put Cotto in the perfect position for him to win their vacant WBO 154lb. title.
Had the WBO selected someone like Austin Trout or Julian Williams and had him fight Kamegai for their WBO 154lb, title, they would obviously be the belt holder for that sanctioning body. You can argue that the sanctioning bodies basically pick guys they want to be their champions. In my opinion, Cotto didn’t deserve to be ranked at No.1 by the WBO after not fighting for 2 years, and after losing his previous fight to Saul Canelo Alvarez. How do you get ranked at No.1 when you’ve lost your last fight and you’ve been inactive for 2 years? Only in boxing do you see that.
At 147, Cotto won his titles against Carlos Quintana and Michael Jennings. Those are not great fighters. Cotto his titles to Manny Pacquiao in 2009 and never avenged the loss. At 154, Cotto picked up titles beating Yuri Foreman and Yoshihiro Kamegai. Again, those are not great fighters. At middleweight, Cotto beat an injured and old Sergio Martinez at a catch-weight to win the WBC middleweight title. Cotto didn’t fight the recognized best champion at 160 in Gennady Golovkin.
Instead, Cotto took the easy route to become a champion at middleweight by beating Sergio Martinez. I don’t think for a second that Cotto would have beaten Sergio Martinez in his prime. I think it would have an absolute mismatch between a prime Martinez and Cotto. We’ll never know for sure, but I suspect that Cotto wouldn’t be able to do much at all against Martinez when he was at his best.
Ali was picked to get beaten by Cotto. It’s going to be up to him to show that Golden Boy and Cotto made a mistake in selecting him. I don’t know that they did. They obviously studied Ali’s past fights to deem him a safe choice for Cotto. If Cotto wanted a dangerous opponent, he would have selected Jermell Charlo, Erislandy Lara, Jarrett Hurd or Julian Williams. The biggest hint that Cotto is looking for a sure thing win is the fact that he picked from the welterweight division instead of the junior middleweight division for his opponent. The second biggest hint is Cotto selected a fighter that was recently knocked out by Jessie Vargas. Ali was knocked out last year by Vargas.
Ali is probably going to need to knockout Cotto for him to get the win tonight, because I don’t think the judges will give him the decision if it goes to the scorecards. Cotto is too popular, and this is supposed to be a celebration tonight.