Tuesday, March 20, 2018  |


Farewell, Miguel: Cotto, Sadam Ali set to fight Dec. 2 at Madison Square Garden


Miguel Cotto said all throughout 2017 that this would be his final year in boxing.

His farewell fight has been set for weeks: December 2 at Madison Square Garden, home of many of his biggest victories.

Just who the opponent would be was trickier to establish.

And in the end, it will be Sadam Ali, the once-beaten welterweight who will move up to 154 pounds for a crack at Cotto (41-5, 33 knockouts) and his WBO title. Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez told RingTV.com on Sunday that the fight is verbally agreed to. On Wednesday, it was made official.

“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.”

Ali, who was knocked out by Jessie Vargas in his lone fight of significance, wasn’t the first choice of HBO or Golden Boy.

They hoped to match Cotto with middleweight puncher David Lemieux, but according to a source who was not authorized to speak publicly on the talks, Cotto realized in his August return against Yoshihiro Kamegai that 160 pounds simply is no longer an option.

The three other 154-pound champions — Jarrett Hurd, Erislandy Lara and Jermall Charlo — are all unavailable since they fight on Saturday’s Showtime tripleheader.

Other fighters considered who declined offer or were unavailable include Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson, James Kirkland and Errol Spence Jr. Garcia actually was offered a long-term deal with Golden Boy that would have included a $2 million-plus payday to fight, according to the source.

So it will be Ali, a Brooklynite and Olympian who will be a massive underdog to upend Cotto in the final chapter of the hall of famer’s storied career. Ali (25-1, 14 KOs) has won three straight since the last year’s defeat to Vargas, including a decision over Johan Perez in his last bout.

“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. God willing, I will leave the Garden with the championship belt.”

Cotto is Puerto Rico’s lone four-division champion and owns victories over fighters like Zab Judah, Antonio Margarito (rematch), Sugar Shane Mosley and Paulie Malignaggi, all at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where the large Puerto Rican population always comes out in droves to support him.

Cotto also has shared the ring with Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao and Canelo Alvarez, but came up short each time.

His career crown jewel might just be a 2014 destruction of Sergio Martinez at MSG to win the WBC, lineal and RING middleweight championship. And now, after 16 years in the pro game, Cotto will wrap it all up and retire at the site of his greatest triumphs.

A 10th fight at MSG, and that will be a wrap for Cotto, who turns 37 later this month.


Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger

  • Stephen M

    His career crowned jewel is Martinez? Really?

    • Joe Abba

      Check the author of the article.

    • Giuseppe

      i know. what a crazy thing to write. i consider that fight almost a N/C.

  • learnmore

    Destruction of ‘one legged’ Sergio Martinez, this is the problem of more fighters not getting TV time regularly. The viewers dont know them so the promoters always will pursue fighters who are better known. If all of these boxers really turn down the fight for whatever reason & he did not want to fight at 160. Not much to choose from, I would prefer if he chose a 154lb fighter off the WBO ratings like Diego Chaves, Kanat Islam, Jrock Williams or even Margarito who is rated #9 on the WBO ratings. At least the build up would be fun.

    • Giuseppe

      Cotto v JRock Williams is a great fight.

      • ceylon mooney

        cotto vs any contender in his own weight class

        he pics a dude from the 147 “what ever happened to …” file.

        • Giuseppe

          Cotto v Brook.

          • ceylon mooney

            oh hell yea

            and no frickin way

  • Nick Bannister

    His career crown jewel is either Mosley or Judah, top fighters he beat when they were at or near their primes. Martinez was nowhere near his finest moment.

    • D Johnson

      I thought he lost the Mosley fight. A very good fighter nonetheless.

      • Julio

        Close fight, but even Mosley admitted that he lost it.

        • D Johnson

          Man I dunno, I was at that fight. people sitting near me (Cotto fans) we all had Mosley edging it.

          • Julio

            I think that Cotto outboxed him juuust enough to take the paper thin decision.

          • D Johnson

            Close fight indeed.

    • ciobanu catalin

      Martinez was almost cripple in that fight. I think he had a handicap permit issued for those knees

      • Young Winter


    • Julio

      I’d say that beating Mosley is Cotto’s career best victory. Judah was still a notable win, but Judah was never quite the same after the Tzyu loss.

    • Kiowhatta

      I suppose his unexpected win over Chavez Jr at that time revived a romantic notion amongst fans: that of the ‘over the hill’ fighter who defies father time to compete at the top level a la George Foreman, B-Hop etc.

  • Roberto Carlos Guerra

    I’m glad he didn’t choose Lemieux. After the recent tragedies in Puerto Rico, the last thing they need is to witness their hero getting laid unconcious for his farewell fight. Ali is a good choice.

    • left hook

      Nothing special about Lemieux. He only has one top name on his resume.

      • Roberto Carlos Guerra

        True, but considering Lemieux’s power and size, it would still be quite a risky gamble for a farewell fight.

        • left hook

          True but Lemieux is nothing special.

          • Mike Prado

            His power is special, and Cotto knows it.

          • left hook

            So? power is not a skill.
            Kovalev has power but he was KOed by Ward. GGG has power but couldn’t Knock Canelo or Jacobs out. Froch had power but couldn’t Knock ward out. Maidana had power but couldn’t Knock mayweather out. Forman had power but couldn’t KO Ali. Even Lemieux had power couldn’t KO Golovkin.
            Lemieux is nothing special.

          • Mike Prado

            I totally agree with all of that, and you’re right – power is not a skill. If power and endurance were not factors, I’d pick Cotto to outbox Lemieux all day every day.

            But power is a very real, present thing. I’m not saying Lemieux will blow him out, or even win. I’m only saying that Lemieux, as un-special a boxer as he is, is a big, dangerous middleweight with plenty in the power department.

            Cotto is small for a middleweight, he’s at the end of his career, and he’s been through numerous brutal wars. He’s also never possessed a very durable chin. I’m not saying he’d lose, just that it would be a very risky gig for his final fight. BTW I’m a huge Cotto fan. Kudos, bro!

        • Will Arbuckle

          Indeed it would, which is why they went with a faded welter weight fringe contender….anybody wasting their money on this?

      • Kiowhatta

        I think Lemieux is under-appreciated. Of course Golovkin gave him a very straight forward boxing lesson when most people were expecting an all out slug fest between two heavy handers, so his stock went down some, but he, at the same time got respect for hopping in the ring at a time when the perception was everyone was ducking GGG.

  • mondo!

    good choice !

  • Giuseppe

    boring idea, even if it could be an OK fight… but why not go out with a win. Good career for ol Miguel.

  • ceylon mooney

    good for saddam ali, what a BITCH move for cotto. at least floyd picked a goodbye dud from his own weight class. lame.

    • Danny Luciano

      Did you read the names of people who were offered the fight before Ali who either declined or weren’t available? Probably had to settle for this because nothing reasonably better was available.

      • ceylon mooney

        yes, but they been workin on this fight for a long time right? and really no one wants to fight cotto? hard to believe.

        • Danny Luciano

          Kirkland was one of the names mentioned but he pulled out of the last fight and that wasn’t the first time he’s pulled something like that. He’s a head case and not reliable. As for the other names, many of them are haymon fighters and haymon and Oscar really don’t work Together. My preference would’ve been that he fight Thurman. Call me crazy but I think cotto would have s good chance of winning that fight. The ali fight sucks but if he’s keeping his word of finishing his career in December, probably had to act quickly.

          • ceylon mooney

            no, youre not crazy to think that. thurmans out til god knows when.

  • Colin Mc Flurry.

    I figured Cotto was the kind of guy to go out with a Bang! Seems it will be a Whimper!

  • Antony916

    Personally I’m a bit disappointed in this match up but will watch nonetheless. I imagine a fairly easy win for Cotto.


    Cotto make Floyd bleed, at least.


    Damn! We were hoping to see Cotto vs. Margarito 3.

  • Douglas Cohen

    Demetrius Andrade is now with HBO. I wonder if the powers that be looked into this fight possibility? Yes, Andrade is moving up to middleweight but I’m sure he would come back down to junior middle for Cotto, and the fight offers a lot more intrigue than Sadaam Ali. My guess is that Cotti didn’t want to climb that considerable mountain in his farewell fight since it wouldn’t result in a major payday. Honestly, I can’t blame him.

  • Will Arbuckle

    Inactive almost 2 years and gets a title shot. Gets a voluntary against a fringe welter weight……anybody else see this is what is wrong with boxing. He’s about 5 years past his prime folks, would not waste my money. Similar to what was going to be an intermediate light heavy title between bipolar and Broadhurst. What happened to Sullivan…….both total bullshit

  • Oc

    The man that gave us some absolutely great fights with the likes of Margarito, Judah, Martinez, Mosley, Clottey, Pacquiao, Mayweather, Alvarez, Torres, Pinto, Sosa, Corley, Malignaggi, Abdullaev, Bailey, Maussa, Ceballos and Ndou can go out any way he pleases, I reckon (any and every fighter should “go out” with an easy nights work…testing yourself is what yung studs do, not old war horses) …personally I’m glad it not with Triple G, Canelo or Lemieux…Miguel just isn’t a MW and to see him go out on his back would have been a terrible sight indeed.

  • Giuseppe

    Cotto is generally overrated in my view. A good but not very good career. or maybe very good but not great?

    • ceylon mooney

      only guy who gave mayweather part 2 any trouble. cotto rosemhisnass hard, really made him work.

      • Giuseppe

        he did indeed. maybe i’m being too harsh. he was pretty good.

        • ceylon mooney

          i dont think good but not great is too harsh. maybe cottos merits as a great are a lot more debatable than other greats. its really bein debated here.

  • Luca Blight

    Trash fight.

  • Kiowhatta

    Despite criticism of Cotto in recent times, I was an avid fan after watching his 2005 knockdown fest with Ricardo Torres. Would loved to have seen him square off with ‘Thunder’ Gatti.
    He deserves Kudos.

  • Dan James

    I would have preferred to see him with Kell Brooks or even Danny Garcia. Saddam Ali has not really shown me elite level.

  • jebib

    If the list of fights that could not be made are legitimate I have no issues with Cotto’ s last fight.