Miguel Cotto: Reflection Eternal As One Of Boxing’s Greatest Exits

    Miguel Cotto. The name conjures up the ornate floats of the Puerto Rican Day parade routes that all led to Madison Square Garden.

    To modify a line from FDR, “It is a name which will live in infamy.” And just as he used that statement to ask for a declaration of war, so does the name Miguel Cotto convey just that: war. 

    Its utterance literally beckons a challenge for any and all comers, and the man that repped the shining star and all Boricuas is finally calling it quits on the squared circle. This weekend in the city that embraced him like none other, New York City, Cotto will defend his WBO light middleweight title against former U.S. Olympian Sadam Ali.

    It will be the last time he laces up the gloves as a prizefighter and if he wins, he leaves on top as a champion with one of the most storied careers in boxing history.

    Miguel Cotto’s Greatest Hits

    Watch a highlight reel of some of the biggest blows delivered by ring legend Miguel Cotto. And don’t miss Cotto’s final fight vs. Sadam Ali on Saturday, Dec. 2 live at 10 PM ET/PT on HBO World Championship Boxing.

    Cotto is the most accomplished and decorated fighter in Puerto Rican history. Now that’s a bold statement for any fighter hailing from the tiny yet scrappy island, as its history in boxing is lengthy and prestigious. Consider if you will Cotto’s contemporaries – Wilfredo Gomez, Felix Trinidad, and Carlos Ortiz.

    Gomez, the three-division world champion, is considered the greatest super bantamweight ever and one of the top punchers of all time. The slick technical brilliance of Ortiz will forever be remembered, and the light welterweight and lightweight world champion dominated the sixties. Trinidad was a three-division world champion that never lost a bout under 160 pounds.

    Still, Cotto should and will receive the top boxing accolades of all his countrymen. As a four-division world champion that has held six world championships, he has been the perennial definition of Bone Crusher’s 2003 ode to fearlessness – I ain’t “Never Scared” – in taking out a who’s who in boxing.

    Miguel Cotto: A Retrospective (full show)

    HBO Sports takes an in-depth look into the life and career of boxing legend Miguel Cotto ahead of his final fight against Sadam Ali. Watch Cotto-Ali Saturday, Dec. 2 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO World Championship Boxing.

    Let’s review the victim list: Randall Bailey, Paulie Malignaggi, Carlos Quintana, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Ricardo Mayorga, Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito and more. It reads like a potential Hall of Fame ballot sheet of victimhood and Cotto can humble-brag these wins into perpetuity. 

    His first loss to Antonio Margarito will forever be suspect after it was discovered that Margarito used illegal hand wraps that were hardened with plaster. Cotto made sure to avenge that.   

    In 2012, Cotto forced a dog fight with Floyd “Money” Mayweather, who until then hadn’t tasted his own blood since he was called “Pretty Boy”. Recently deceased former legendary cutman Rafael Garcia earned his money (pun intended) that weekend courtesy of the third through ninth round onslaught of the Boricua sensation which tested the mettle of Mayweather’s savant defensive prowess. Cotto lost a lopsided unanimous decision but won in the court of popular opinion as his signature pressure converted into boxer-puncher to give Mayweather his best run pre-Marcos Maidana I.

    After losing to Austin Trout, he went up in weight and secured the WBC, The Ring and lineal middleweight titles via a ninth-round stoppage of Sergio Martinez until he was bested by Canelo Alvarez via unanimous decision. Two years later, he rebounded and captured the WBO light middleweight title in his first return to action. 

    Training with Freddie Roach at the Wild Card gym in Los Angeles rounded out the fighter and wearing his signature pink has branded him boxing’s less vocal, more action version of Cam’ron.   

    One-on-One: Sadam Ali (HBO Boxing News)

    HBO Boxing insider Kieran Mulvaney interviews Sadam Ali ahead of his fight with Miguel Cotto. Watch Cotto vs. Ali on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO World Championship Boxing.

    With a new challenge in the 29-year-old Sadam Ali, a guy who’s only loss was a TKO to Jessie Vargas for the welterweight title, Cotto is sticking to his guns and leaving the game with a true challenge right in front of him. Ali is a younger guy with 14 knockouts and has a chance to leave a legend with an ‘L’ on the way out the door. From Brooklyn, NY, Ali will certainly come to win and knows the pressure lies strictly on Cotto. 

    This is why Cotto will always be considered not only one of Puerto Rico’s finest, but one of the best boxers period to ever do it. With up-and-comers like former champion Danny Garcia now leading the new pack and a full lineage behind him, Cotto is to be congratulated for a stellar career indicative of an old- school, take-all-comers mentality that is a rarefied vantage point for today’s professional athlete in any sport, but especially in boxing. 

    Miguel Cotto is special. From representing Puerto Rico as a light welterweight at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games to his signature left hook to the body that defined an entire career, win or lose, Saturday, December 2nd, 2017 is a day that will live in infamy as the day a legend decided to give the game one last glimpse of his greatness.                    

    Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.