By Marc Livitz: Miguel Cotto last shared the spotlight of a high profile bout almost two years ago. His 12 round, unanimous decision loss to Saul ’Canelo’ Alvarez was likely accompanied by a result which many fighters can only dream. It brought even more fans to appreciate his efforts and his will to give everything in the ring. As Puerto Rico’s only four division world champion, Cotto (41-5, 33 KO’s) will put his WBO junior middleweight championship on the line against 2008 USA Olympian Sadam “World Kid” Ali (25-1, 14 KO’s) on Saturday, December 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Cotto’s boxing swansong will be his tenth appearance at ‘The World’s Most Famous Arena’ in Manhattan and he’s had several epic evenings there against such names as Shane Mosley, Joshua Clottey and a rematch with the man who dealt him his first professional defeat, Antonio Margarito. His opponent, Sadam Ali is a Brooklyn native and feels set to face a living legend as well as a jump up in weight from welterweight to junior middleweight.
The contest will be televised live in the United States on HBO’s ‘World Championship Boxing’ beginning at 10PM ET/PT. Before the final preparations are made, Cotto, trainer Freddie Roach, Sadam Ali and Chairman/CEO of Golden Boy Promotions Oscar De La Hoya took part in an international media conference call on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the final fight of Cotto’s storied career.
Selected Highlights Below
Opening Statements, Oscar De La Hoya: “This is a classic event as one star says goodbye and another one tries to fill the void he’ll leave behind. What can be said about Miguel Cotto that hasn’t already been said during his two decades in boxing? He’s Puerto Rico’s only four division champion and a six-time world champion. He’s doing the same for Sadam Ali that he had done for him when he was a young fighter as he puts his WBO junior middleweight title on the line. Sadam is daring to be great and that’s how you make a name for yourself in the sport.”
“On a side note, Puerto Rico still needs help. A lot of families are still without electricity, water or contact with other people. Part of the ticket sale profits will be given to charities on behalf of Miguel Cotto and his team. We’ll make sure to give back and shed light on this tragedy.”
Opening Statements, Miguel Cotto: “I’m working really hard for this; my final fight. I can’t wait for the day to get here because we’ll be ready.”
Sadam “World Kid” Ali’s Opening Remarks: “It’s a pleasure to be in this position on the big stage. I’m ready to go out there and perform. I’ll look to put on a great show against a legend and a guy I grew up watching. I know that I’m the underdog. This is amazing for me.”
Cotto on his decision to retire: “I’ve been able to provide the best for my family through boxing. I have given a lot to boxing and been able to give everything for my family. I’m good with my decision and I’m ready to move on to a new life.”
Ali on fighting Cotto: “I’ve been fighting since I was eight years old and I’ve been in big arenas. Of course, this is different. This is the opportunity of a lifetime and I’m ready to put on a good show. I’m moving up in weight and this is the biggest challenge of my career. My weight is okay and I’m where I’m supposed to be.”
On being a fan of Cotto: “I’ve followed his career and I’ve seen him fight live a few times. If you love boxing, then you watch him because he’s fought the best.”
Miguel on one career defining moment: “I have enjoyed my whole career and every fight has made me the boxer I am today. All the negatives are in the past. If there’s one, then I’ll say that my fight against Ricardo Torres (won by KO in 2005) let everyone know who Miguel Cotto is.”
Sadam on what he expects from Cotto: “It’s a great challenge and he has great power and a jab. He comes forward and he knows how to move. It’s a mix of everything and I have to be prepared. I have to be at my best and in great shape. I have to be careful because he has tremendous power. He is the bigger guy and I’ll be moving up in weight but I’m ready for the challenge.”
Freddie Roach on fighting Ali and not a bigger name: “They all had obligations so we chose a guy from the new generation. We’ll see how good he really is but Miguel will be on top of his game. We’d love to go out on top with a fighter like Canelo or Golovkin but they weren’t available.”
Cotto’s Thoughts on looking back: “I was just a kid who wanted to be a boxer. All I wanted to do was give my best everyday. That’s what I can say I always did.”
Closing Remarks, Sadam Ali: “I know there will be a lot of doubters. I’ll make sure that I go out there and put on a show,. December 2nd will be a great night.”
Cotto’s Signoff: ““Thanks to all the fans around the world. See you all on December 2nd for my final fight.”