Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto has an opportunity to accomplish what many boxers, even some of the greatest in the sport, have failed to do.
Cotto will almost assuredly be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and as he heads into his farewell bout against Sadam Ali at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT), the Puerto Rican legend will exit the sport on his own terms, on top of his game, and financially secure.
Cotto (41-5, 33 KO’s), 37, the first Puerto Rican man to win belts in four weight divisions, beat Yoshihiro Kamegai on Aug. 26 to win the vacant WBO junior middleweight title. He will defend his belt for first and only time against Ali (25-1, 14 KO’s), 29, who became the first Arab-American boxer to represent the United States in the Olympics in 2008.
Ali was last seen in the ring in July against Johan Perez at Casino Del Sol in Tucson. Although he won a comfortable points decision and managed to knock down his opponent in the third round, Ali wasn’t as impressive as the scorecards may have indicated.
Ali fought for a vacant welterweight world title bout in March 2016, but was knocked out by former titlist Jessie Vargas.
Will Cotto blow past Ali? Will he show his age? Or will Ali score the upset of the year?
Let’s take it round-by-round.
Round 1: The bell rings, and that signals the start of the fight. Ali is darting in and out and firing quick crosses, but Cotto is blocking them with ease. The champion fires a vicious right cross down the pipe and catches Ali. Cotto also scores with his signature left hook to the body.
Winner: Cotto 10-9
Round 2: Ali is hurt with another hard right cross from Cotto. The 2008 Olympian Ali goes downstairs with a combination, but Cotto comes right back with an authoritative combination to the body.
Winner: Cotto 20-18
Round 3: Ali connects with a few blows, including a short hook to the body, but Cotto lands with another powerful cross. If you’re feeling generous, Ali may get this round, but Cotto’s punches are clearly having more of an impact.
Winner: Cotto 30-27
Round 4: Cotto is protecting the body nicely as Ali fails to score inside. The champion goes upstairs with another big right hand. Ali is in trouble. Cotto hits him with a left hook to the head. Ali is saved by the bell.
Winner: Cotto 40-36
Round 5: Ali is feeling a sense of urgency. Cotto backs into the ropes and counters with a beautiful right hand. Ali is knocked back and stays away for the rest of the round as some serious swelling is beginning to develop around his left eye – probably from all the right hands he has taken in this fight.
Winner: Cotto 50-45
Round 6: Cotto has targeted the head for most of this fight, but now he’s going back to the body, landing several short hooks to the ribcage. Ali feints to the body and connects with a combination to the head, but walks right into a hook. Down goes Ali. It’s over.
Winner: Miguel Cotto by sixth-round KO