Peter Wells is back this week on Boxing News and Views to give his official Miguel Cotto vs Sadam Ali prediction.
It has been one of the most notorious and high-profiled careers of the 21st century, and tomorrow night it comes to an end, as the legendary Miguel Cotto 41-5(33KO’s) laces up his gloves for what is anticipated as his last ever prizefight.
It will be an emotional night as the 46 fight veteran enters and leaves the famed Madison Square Garden as a hero to thousands in attendance and millions around the world.
The Puerto Rican has made ‘The Garden’ his home, and has put on some of the most memorable fights in the modern game all across the United States.
It is incredible to think that Cotto’s days at the top seemed to be numbered when he was halted by the tornado that was Manny Pacquiao back in 2009. Now, 8 years on, Cotto has gone on to win a further three world titles, in two more weight divisions.
Yet, three defeats since that grizzled beating at the hands of Pacquiao, has shown that the guaranteed Hall-of-Famer, is retiring at precisely the right time.
In August, Cotto won a sensational 6th world title as he claimed the WBO’s vacant strap at Light Middleweight with a convincing win on the scorecards against Yoshihiro Kamegai. Now he can close the show against the young and improving Sadam Ali 25-1(14KO’s).
The New Yorker should feel at home at ‘The Garden’ but on this occasion he will feel the visitor in Cotto’s symbolic backyard.
Ali’s rise through the Welterweight rankings seemed to be going perfectly, but when presented with a chance to grab the vacant WBO title he had been vying for years for, he came a cropper against Jessie Vargas. Down on points, he was halted in the 9th round of Vargas’ career best display.
Ali has bounced back well with a trio of wins, but one has to wonder whether he has the size to trouble a man that has grown into the body of a true 154lb fighter.
Ali’s last fight earned him a ranking with the WBA at Welterweight, so it seems that Ali sees his future lying in the division below, but opted to take an opportunity that no prizefighter at this level would pass up.
Ali seems that he has the tools to cause a Cotto, no longer in his prime, problems. And he will understandably feel aggrieved about the lack of attention or props he has been given ahead of what is his biggest fight to date. This is without question the ‘Miguel Cotto Leaving Party’, and Sadam Ali has every intent of crashing it.
But intentions outside the ring, are very rarely matched inside of it. Game plans often don’t come in to the equation when stating one’s intent to do the business on fight night.
And this could be the stumbling block for the Brooklynite. Without suggesting he will freeze, Ali may at the least struggle to grab the initiative against such an experienced and to a slightly lesser extent, superior fighter.
Ali is a highly competent boxer, and recent wins against Kamegai, Daniel Geale, Sergio Martinez and Delvin Rodriguez may not have distinctively shown us that Cotto is still capable at the highest level. But despite losing, he impressed against Canelo Alvarez two years ago.
Putting less emphasis on the ‘impressed against Alvarez’ and more on the ‘two years ago’ and suddenly one begins to question whether Cotto has enough left against such a youthful fighter, with nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain.
Ali can’t possibly be offered a better opportunity than this to put his name on the map. A chance to dethrone a Puerto Rican all-time great, claim a world title, and become a wanted man in two weight divisions.
If Ali leaves anything in the ring on Saturday night and loses, that will be a heavy weight to carry.
A host of retirements this year ensures that the future hall-of-fame class will be a stacked one, and we truly hope that Cotto will officially add his name to that list following the fight, win, draw or lose.
While there is the suspicion that Ali may spoil the retirement party, the pick is for experience and father-prime to win the day.
Ali can be fast out the blocks, hoping to make an impression early. Cotto will slip behind, but by rounds 4 or 5 will have a rhythm, and from there can ultimately take control of a competitive fight.
Ali, still in the contest late on, will have more left in the latter stages, but not enough to take advantage of the tiring champion.
A grandstand finish from Cotto will bring his jubilant fans to their feet, before the party continues late into the brisk New York night. The ice-cold Miguel Cotto will burst with emotion as he declares this his final goodbye in the boxing ring following his 42nd victory.