Miguel Cotto can't conjure up the magic one last time, ends career with loss to Sadam Ali

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Sadam Ali (L) and Miguel Cotto embrace after Ali defeated Cotto by unanimous decision Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York in what Cotto said was his final fight. (Getty)

All that is left for Miguel Cotto now is a stop in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y. Cotto ended his legendary career Saturday at Madison Square Garden in disappointing fashion, dropping a unanimous decision to Sadam Ali in their WBO super welterweight title fight.

Ali was quicker, sharper and had more energy than the 37-year-old Cotto, who retired following the fight with a 41-6 record and 33 knockouts. Cotto looked like a veteran heading into the final fight of his career and didn’t have the extra gear he went to so often in wins over fighters like Shane Mosley, Zab Judah and Antonio Margarito, among many others.

Judge Mark Malinski had it 116-112 for Ali, while both Steve Weisfeld and Julie Lederman scored it 115-113 for Ali. All three judges scored the final four rounds for Ali.

But despite the well-deserved victory, easily the biggest of Ali’s career, this night was about Cotto. He turned pro after the 2000 Olympics and was easily the best pro from that class. Though he lost his most significant fights, to Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Canelo Alvarez, Cotto was a warrior who always put on a show and who fought all comers.

He won titles at 140, 147, 154 and 160 pounds, becoming the first Puerto Rican boxer to win titles in four weight classes.

The only question is whether he’ll go into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, or whether he has to wait a year or two. He’s almost certain to be inducted, but given that the Hall only takes three modern fighters in each class, he may be forced to wait.

Among the fighters who have announced their retirements in 2017 are Mayweather, Wladimir Klitschko, Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao has gone back and forth on whether he would fight beyond this year, and if he does not, he would also be eligible for the Class of 2022.

If none of them fight again, Mayweather and Pacquiao would be cinches, and it would likely come down to whether voters choose Klitschko over Cotto for that spot.

Sadam Ali (R) throws a right hand Saturday at Miguel Cotto in their WBO super welterweight title fight at Madison Square Garden. (Getty)

In any event, though, Cotto set a standard that will never be forgotten. He was the epitome of a fighter, taking on all challenges and never shying away from the action.

As most fighters do, he declined as he aged, and he was just 4-4 in his last eight bouts. But at his peak, he was among a handful of fighters at the top of the sport and he thrilled fans around the world with his action-packed style.

It’s rare when a fighter winning a world title gets overshadowed, but that was Ali’s fate on Saturday. It’s what happens when you take on a legend in his final fight.

Ali answered plenty of questions about himself Saturday. Critics questioned why he even got the fight, but he fought a smart, professional fight and clearly deserved the win.

The questions about Cotto were answered years ago. The next time we’ll see him will be when he’s inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.