Like a Black Friday sale, fans showed up as soon as the doors to Madison Square Garden opened at 6 p.m. on Saturday evening. Draped in Puerto Rican flags and various forms of Miguel Cotto swag. You see, for them it was a chance to soak up every moment of a farewell to their hero. Who over the span of a 17-year career provided them with moments of excitement, drama and cultural pride.
The evening began with an undercard of young talent all vying to be – well – the next Miguel Cotto. The likes of Zachary Ochoa faced Brooklyn native Erik Martinez, Ronnie Rios triumphed over Deivis Julio and Boricua Angel Acosta made a case to take over the mantle of Puerto Rico’s next great boxer by stopping Juan Alejo in 10 rounds to become a world champion in his own right.
Yet, the story of the evening was the stunning upset victory of Sadam Ali over Miguel Cotto. In front of a crowd of 12,391 at Madison Square Garden, Ali, won a unanimous decision by scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 115-113. With all three judges giving Ali the final four rounds of the bout.
Early in the fight Ali asserted and established himself, stunning Cotto in round two with a big right and taking rounds three and four. Cotto rallied back in the middle rounds behind a jab and a straight right hand in the sixth that rocked Ali. By round nine many felt they were watching a fight that was dead even. Yet, this is when Ali turned on the gas and increased his output. To his credit Cotto employed great defense to mute much of the onslaught, making Ali miss most of his punches, however, it ultimately was not enough to secure a victory.
After the fight, Ali told the press “I worked hard for it.” As for Cotto, he acknowledged that he’d injured his left bicep in the seventh round, but refused to use it as an excuse. “Feeling good,” Cotto said. “Feeling good with the performance. Something happened to my left bicep, seventh round. I don’t want to make excuses, Sadam won the fight. It is my last fight. I am good and I want to be happy in my home with my family.”
The response, yet another example of why Cotto was admired and respected for so many years not just by his loyal fan base, but by the boxing community at large. In the face of victory and defeat he was always a class act. Your certainly hall of fame in our book ‘LLERO.
For a look at more of last night’s action visit our Miguel Cotto against Sadam Ali Photo Gallery.