by Cliff Rold
It’s not a fight everyone is excited about going in.
That doesn’t mean they won’t feel differently coming out.
Mix and aging man with a big name against a younger man who looks like he’s there to lose but has some talent…anything can happen.
By all appearances, this looks like it’s supposed to be what it is advertised as: one last night at the Garden for Miguel Cotto. Can Sadam Ali spoil the Garden party?
Let’s go the report card.
Titles: WBO Jr. Middleweight (2017-Present, 1st Attempted Defense)
Previous Titles: WBO Light Welterweight (2004-06, 5 Defenses); WBA Welterweight (2006-08, 4 Defenses); WBO Welterweight (2009, 1 Defense); WBA Super Welterweight (2010-12, 2 Defenses); WBC Middleweight (2014-15, 1 Defense); Lineal/TBRB/Ring World Middleweight (2014-15, 1 Defense)
Height: 5’7 ?
Weight: 151 ½ lbs.
Hails from: Caguas, Puerto Rico??
Record: 41-5, 33 KO, 2 KOBY??
Record in Major Title Fights: 20-5, 16 KO, 2 KOBY
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Cesar Bazan TKO11; Carlos Maussa TKO8; Lovemore N’Dou UD12; Randall Bailey TKO6; DeMarcus Corley TKO5; Ricardo Torres KO7; Paulie Malignaggi UD12; Carlos Quintana RTD5; Zab Judah TKO11; Shane Mosley UD12; Antonio Margarito TKO by 11, RTD9; Joshua Clottey SD12; Manny Pacquiao TKO by 12; Yuri Foreman TKO9; Ricardo Mayorga TKO12; Floyd Mayweather L12; Austin Trout L12; Sergio Martinez RTD10; Daniel Geale TKO4; Saul Alvarez L12
Titles/Previous Titles: None
Height: 5’9 ?
Weight: 153 lbs.
Hails from: Brooklyn, New York??
Record: 25-1, 14 KO??
Record in Major Title Fights: 0-1, 1 KOBY
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Jessie Vargas TKO by 9
Pre-Fight: Speed – Cotto B; Ali B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Cotto B+; Ali B-
Pre-Fight: Defense – Cotto B-; Ali B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Cotto B+; Ali B
If this fight feels like a foregone conclusion to many, it’s still a good chance to take another look at some of the accomplishments of Cotto. By accomplishments, focus less on the belts won. Some had more substance than others. Cotto was all but gifted belts by the WBO on at least two occasions. He won his current 154 lb. strap his last bout…against Yoshihiro Kamegai.
Nothing screamed top two contenders for a vacant Jr. middleweight belt in 2017 like Cotto and Kamegai. It’s the sort of sanctioning body/fighter love fest that might give WBC/Chavez a run.
Put that aside.
Cotto fought just about everyone around his weight classes. He didn’t win them all but he was never a pushover either. Opponents knew they’d been in a fight; fans got their money’s worth.
Even the Kamegai fight was watchable.
Will it hold true one more time?
Ali has some of the tools and youth that leave beating Cotto within the realm of possible. He’s not really the smaller man though he’s fought lower on the scale recently. Ali has a good jab, decent speed, good feet, and an Olympic pedigree. What Ali lacks is much of an inside game or the sort of offense that can keep Cotto honest.
Ali often throws one shot at a time or operates methodically. Fighting at the Garden, and being from Brooklyn, he might be motivated to do more. He’s never going to get a better chance to be more than a face in the crowd than he will get Saturday night.
The problem is, nearing thirty pro fights, Ali has yet to do anything that makes one think he’s really part of the upper tier. Cotto, even at his age, still puts punches together well and gets to the body. He might have to track Ali down but Ali can be found along the ropes and Cotto is punishing against the ropes.
Cotto isn’t going out with a loss. Ali will have some moments that make him a more valuable opponent down the road but he’s just unlikely to put together a win here. It would be better for boxing if Ali did win, at least as much as its always good for the winner to be someone who can parlay a win into future fights. Ali won’t throw enough after he tastes some of Cotto’s big stuff to win what might look like a closer fight in the ring than it is on the scorecards.
Report Card Picks 2017: 43-17
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]