The boxing world has begun to say goodbye to Miguel Cotto.
On Tuesday, October 17, HBO and Golden Boy Promotions announced the final fight of Cotto’s career at a press conference. The bout will be a WBO title bout against Brooklyn’s Sadam Ali.
Speaking before a modest group of New York media outlets, all parties involved in the bout paid their respects to Cotto; in some instances, even preemptively wishing the 36 year old a happy retirement.
“I will miss training camp with him, and I’m kind of happy that he’s deciding when he’s going to retire, and not us or a commission,” said head trainer Freddie Roach. “He’s decided that he’s been in boxing enough and he wants to be close to his family, and I respect that.”
HBO Sports VP Peter Nelson also noted the significance of family in Cotto’s decision to bow out of the sport; relaying an anecdote of Miguel embracing his wife and kids after his August win over Yoshihiro Kamegai.
Retirements in combat sports are never set in stone, but Cotto’s team left every reason to believe we’ll be seeing the last of him on December 2.
Ali, meanwhile, steps into a seminal moment of boxing history as a relatively unknown commodity. Sporting a 25-1 record with local roots (Ali is a former New York Golden Gloves champion), Sadam has won each of his last three fights after being stopped by Jessie Vargas in March of 2016.
Ali is tasked with sending off a future Hall of Famer, and will have to jump up a weight class to do so–his fight with Cotto will be his first at 154 pounds.
Despite the many disadvantages he’ll face, Ali claimed to have no second thoughts about accepting the fight.
“That’s a big one,” Ali told Round by Round Boxing. “A bigger guy as well, so I knew that I would have to come up in weight a little bit, which wasn’t the greatest news but there’s a lot of guys doing it now. It’s a great opportunity.”
Ali, who emphasized the importance of fighting smart during the presser, expounded on his strategy vs his legendary opponent.
“I plan to mix it up, there could be times where I come forward, but smartly come forward; don’t run into any shots,” said Ali. “I usually don’t like to do a lot of scouting, but for this fight I think I might do a little bit.”
Cotto’s choice of opponent threw the boxing community for a loop. David Lemieux was rumored to be a candidate before accepting a bout with Billy Joe Saunders. Errol Spence Jr. confirmed that his team turned down the fight offer from Golden Boy. And Jermell Charlo entered the fray by calling out the six-time world champion.
Ultimately, Cotto landed on Ali for his swan song, and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya gave Sadam Ali plaudits for accepting the fight.
“Sadam Ali did not hesitate one bit, because he understands what it means to fight a legend,” said De La Hoya. “Every fighter can say whatever he wants to say, but at the end of the day it’s Sadam Ali who stepped up to the plate.”