By David Kolb
NEW YORK CITY. – The final chapter of Miguel Cotto’s career was made official on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
Golden Boy Promotions formally announced that the future Hall-of-Famer will lace up his gloves for a career-finale, defending his WBO 154-pound title against Sadam Ali on December 2 (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT) at The Garden.
That wasn’t always the plan however.
On September 16, Cotto watched eagerly, waiting for his next opponent to emerge, however Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin went the distance at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, yielding no victor – and no opponent for Cotto on December 2.
Asked whether he is disappointed with the eventual matchup with Ali, and not some of the bigger names, Cotto, the consummate professional, said, “The only career that I can control is mine, and I’m happy with the way my career has gone.
“I’m always looking for the best name and opportunity, and Ali was the best available.”
This fight will pit one New Yorker in Ali, versus Cotto, the adopted New Yorker, who will enter the ring for the 10th time at the “Mecca of Boxing.”
Cotto built much of his guaranteed first-ballot Hall of Fame resume with wins at MSG including, W’s over Paulie Malignaggi. Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Sergio Martinez and his one-sided, emotional rematch win over Antonio Margarito.
“In his previous nine fights, Cotto sold more than 140,000 tickets,” said Joel Fisher EVP of Marquee Events at Madison Square Garden.
Meanwhile, while Cotto is excited to be back in New York for a big fight – he is handling it with his trademark, business-as-usual approach
“It’s always great to be back here in New York, and I’m happy to be back,” said Cotto, who gained a win versus Yoshihiro Kamegai in his last bout on August 26 . “It’s another fight, another day of work – but the last one. I’m ready to move on – I’m ready to start again with my family; start things less dangerous than boxing.”
To prepare for this fight, Cotto will return to Southern California, and the Wildcard Boxing Club to work with legendary trainer, Freddie Roach, once again. Being away from his family in this training camp however will be different from past camps.
“My family is still in Puerto Rico,” said Cotto, who left the Hurricane Maria ravaged island to prepare for this fight “My kids are in school, my wife is there to take care of them; and communication between me and them is sometimes not too easy. I trust my wife will do the best for them.”
Cotto and HBO have plans to help raise awareness and funds for Puerto Rico during this promotion.
“Puerto Rico was destroyed by Maria, but it’s our time to get together as Puerto Ricans, to start to put Puerto Rico back,” Cotto said. “Puerto Rico is devastated like never before.”
Meanwhile, Cotto knows Ali, who enters this fight with a 25-1 record, will climb into the ring with some dangerous assets.
“He’s a good fighter,” said the already in-shape Cotto. “He has a lot of mobility in the ring, he’s a slick boxer, and I know that it’s going to be an entertaining fight.”
Ali, a U.S. Olympian in 2008, has lost only one pro fight – a world-title fight – getting knocked out by Jessie Vargas in Washington, D.C. in March 2016. He’s won three straight since then, and is back on track, gunning for an epic upset.
“I know I’m the underdog, and I know a lot of the media are throwing bad words on me,” Ali told the press. “But if you work hard, you put your mind to it, and you come with your best, you never know what’s gonna come.”
While Ali is determined, Cotto has owned precision focus since he turned pro in 2001.
“Since day one, when I became a boxer, I was able to bring my best,” said the 36-year-old boxer-puncher. “When you have to sacrifice [for] yourself, you have to put your things on the side and move on to do what you have to do for your family. My family is my motivation for whatever I have to do in my life. I know that I did my best with every opportunity; I can bring the best to them because I did the best with my career.
Reflecting back on his career however, Cotto clearly identified one fight as the most special fight he fought.
“People talk a lot about the (Shane) Mosley fight,” he said. “That was the moment that I showed to the world of boxing that Miguel Cotto was a great champion.”
While his desire to be the best was clear throughout his career, Cotto now sees the light at the end of the tunnel, and looks forward to rejoining his family in Puerto Rico in December.
This time for good.
“I said before that I was going to retire when I was 30,” said the nostalgic Cotto. “I am now 36, going to be 37 in 12 days. The best thing that can happen in my life is my family. I need to be healthy for them. I need to be there for them. I’ve done enough in my career for them, and it’s time to see them, and enjoy all the sacrifices that I made. That’s all I want to do with my life.”
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Source:: The Ring – Boxing