Miguel Cotto said farewell on Saturday night, closing out an amazing 17-year career, but not in the fashion most expected. In fact, according to how much of a favorite he was, it was not how virtually anyone expected.
Cotto came back to what is known as his second home, Madison Square Garden, where he headlined for the 10th time, to say goodbye to the fans that have supported him throughout his career. A largely Puerto Rican crowd of 12,391 was on hand Saturday.
Coming in to the fight, most expected an easy win over the big underdog Sadam Ali, however as telling from round one, Cotto was nowhere near his best in his final fight. Ali ultimately won a unanimous decision to take his Junior Middleweight World title in a major upset.
Ali surprised Cotto in the second round, landing a clean right hand that visibly rocked Cotto. Moments later, Ali connected with a left hook and Cotto looked like he was in a world of trouble, though he quickly recovered. The pace was set for the rest of the evening. Cotto was aggressive, throwing and landing double and triple jabs to get inside but never landing the crushing left hook to the body he’s known for.
In the sixth round, as Ali’s right eye began to swell from Cotto left hooks, Cotto then hurt Ali with a clean right to the head and unloaded several more blows. Ali moved away, smiling, but he was hurt from the shots. After another successful round in the 7th, Cotto mentioned to HOF trainer Freddie Roach his “ biceps were aching”.
Ali won the final four rounds on all three judges score cards, he came out for the final round firing punches with both hands and catching a tired Cotto against the ropes. Ali had the momentum and finished strong. After the fight Cotto thanked his loyal fans and the night concluded with a video tribute titled “Thank You For The Memories 2001-2017.”.
While Cotto didn’t go out the way he planned and not the way we the fans envisioned, Cotto ultimately did what Cotto will always be remembered for. He gave us a night of heart, a night of action, a night of love, and a night of tears. The way Cotto went out was the way Cotto came in, and will ultimately be the way Cotto will be remembered.