Miguel Cotto (-1000) vs Sadam Ali (+810), Draw (+3300)
Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) steps into the ring for the last time this Saturday (December 2nd) to cap off a long and storied career. With six world titles in four weight classes over his 17 years in professional boxing, Cotto is destined for the Boxing Hall of Fame. The final fight takes place at Madison Square Garden, where he landed some of his most significant victories. It’s a fitting place to bid the 37-year-old pugilist farewell.
For his final opponent, Golden Boy Promotions had their eye on a number of elite fighters — Gennady Golovkin, Errol Spence Jr., Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia, and Jessie Vargas were just a few names bouncing around — but in the end, they failed to reach a deal. Instead, they found Sadam Ali (25-1, 14 KOs), a little-known Brooklynite who agreed to move up from welterweight.
The five opponents to claim wins over Cotto — Antonio Margarito, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Austin Trout, and Canelo Álvarez — are all world champion fighters. Apart from perhaps Austin Trout, they are fighters who reached the highest echelons of boxing. Against lower-level fighters, Cotto has been consistent and clinical throughout his career.
On paper, nothing points to an Ali victory. Cotto is the more technical, more knowledgeable fighter. He’s a faster puncher, a more powerful puncher, and just an all-round better fighter. The one advantage Ali has is his relative youth, but the 37-year-old Cotto proved that he’s still got it earlier this year when he dominated Yoshihiro Kamegai to claim the WBO light middleweight title.
The most notable event of Ali’s career so far is his title fight against Jessie Vargas, a fight where he was thoroughly outmatched. He’s since recovered nicely and won his last three bouts, but they weren’t against particularly noteworthy opponents. Cotto has demolished many fighters like Ali throughout his career.
With the line so heavily in Cotto’s favor, I’m racking my brain to think of reasons to justify picking Sadam Ali. We can look back to December of last year, when a 51-year-old Bernard Hopkins lost his final fight to the rising Joe Smith. Hopkins was expected to dominate the fight, to showcase his mastery of the sweet science and leave the sport on a high note. But instead, he was literally punched out of the ring by a younger, hungrier opponent.
One fighter had his future ahead of him and was looking to make a name for himself, while the other was reflecting on a long, successful career. That sounds a lot like the fight between Miguel Cotto and Sadam Ali.
But it’s not completely fair to compare Cotto to Hopkins. Hopkins returned to the ring after a two-year hiatus following an extremely one-sided loss to Sergey Kovalev (120-107, 120-107, 120-106). He was fighting at 51 years old against a man who had just secured the WBC international light-heavyweight title. Cotto is still an active fighter and has yet to experience the rapid decline that hits aging pugilists. There isn’t much to be gained from picking Cotto, but I can’t rationalize picking Ali.
Pick: Miguel Cotto (-1000)