Cotto’s career curtsy
SACRAMENTO, California—Almost overlooked amid last week’s flurry of sports events was Miguel Cotto’s farewell fight with fellow ex-Olympian Sadam Ali at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Although he lost the WBO junior middleweight title to a fringe contender in Ali, Cotto closed out his illustrious boxing career essentially on his own terms.
In the back of his mind, Cotto knew his final task was fraught with peril. But like the true prizefighter that he was, the 37-year-old Puerto Rican national hero took the assignment anyway just as he had chased one dangerous matchup after another.
The fight on Dec. 2 was fairly even—the middle rounds could have gone either way.
Eventually, the 29-year old Ali, a Yemeni American from Brooklyn, took over the bout, winning on all the judges’ scorecards.
Never one to complain, Cotto, whose nature as a bold gambler in the ring belies his cool, low profile public persona, revealed in a postfight interview that he tore his biceps in the seventh round.
“I don’t want to make excuses, Sadam won the fight,” he told HBO’s Max Kellerman.
In case you are wondering if the loss might cause him to change his plans and keep his career going, Cotto shot down that notion right away.
“I’m feeling good. Feeling good with the performance. It is my last fight. I am good, and I want to be happy in my home with my family,” Cotto said when pressed by Kellerman. “Thank you for all the fans.”
Although he never made staggering amounts of money in his prime, Cotto said he “had the opportunity to provide the best for my family because of the sport.”
In a career that spanned 15 years, Cotto won six world titles in four divisions and faced the elite fighters of his era.
At the center of his 46 professional fights were losses to Antonio Margarito, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Canelo Alvarez, a revenge win over Margarito and bruising victories over Yuri Foreman, Ricardo Mayorga, Shane Mosley and Sergio Martinez.
His fights always featured two-way action between the ropes. To Cotto, a slam-bang affair was just another day in the office.
He separated himself from his peers by not cherry picking his opponents and faced all comers to produce solid television ratings.
Best of all, he is a credit to his profession for choosing his final bout and the date of his departure from the scene.
Cotto has a mind-set unlike those of the most recognizable names in his sport who are past their prime but hem and haw about retirement, are contemplating a comeback or are lining up at the chance to share the ring and the spotlight with UFC superstar Conor McGregor.
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