Cotto’s Last Stand—Welcome to Blue Heaven

By Marc Livitz on November 16, 2017
Cotto’s Last Stand—Welcome to Blue Heaven
Puerto Rico’s only four-division champion will be signing off on Saturday, December 2.

When Cotto’s career is finally examined as a finished product, will he be viewed as an all-time great? It’s a fair question…

Miguel Cotto, Puerto Rico’s only four-division world champion will be signing off, so to speak from the boxing world on Saturday, December 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Of course, we’ll still see him periodically over the years as a promoter and who knows if he’s really and truly done. Cotto (41-5, 33 KO’s) is a six-time champion and has to his credit titles from super lightweight all the way to junior middleweight. His opponent in a few weeks’ time will be 2008 United States Olympian as well as Brooklyn native, Sadam “World Kid” Ali (25-1, 14 KO’s), who has chosen to make the jump up to the light middleweight division from the welterweight class, where he’s taken part in all but a few bouts since he turned professional in January 2009. This was but a few months after Cotto had suffered the first loss of his career when he was mangled by Antonio Margarito.

The questions will always persist as to whether or not Margarito fought that July of 2008 night with loaded gloves, as was almost the case about six months later when he tried to do so against Shane Mosley. Miguel began the contest against Antonio with brilliant footwork, jabbing and a smooth defense. As time wore on, as we remember, he was periodically worn down by Margarito’s relentless approach, not to mention thunderous punches. After the first knockdown of the contest came in the latter stages of the eleventh round, the second one would be the most telling. Cotto, undefeated at the time and with quality wins over such talents as Ricardo Torres, Shane Mosley and Zab Judah, took a knee. He’d been backed into a corner and sadly looked liked a wounded animal who had nowhere to run.

Some where left to wonder if indeed Cotto’s pugilistic spirit was destroyed. Longtime Sports Illustrated writer William Nack once said in HBO’s quality series, ‘Legendary Nights’ (in regard to Julio Cesar Chavez’s 1990 controversial win over Meldrick Taylor), “once it’s beaten out of you, it’s gone forever.”

One year later, he emerged victorious in a hard-fought and entertaining clash with Joshua Clottey in June of 2009. Then came that night five months later when he ran into a bullet train named Manny Pacquiao. The fight was never a contest and came to a close in the twelfth round. He’d get his revenge against Margarito a few years later after wins over Yuri Foreman and Ricardo Mayorga, respectively. His next two contests involved dishing out considerably more than Floyd Mayweather, Jr. had ever received en route to a decision defeat and a close but costly loss to Austin Trout in late 2012. The unexpected twist against Trout meant he wouldn’t get a potentially high profile showdown against Saul “Canelo’ Alvarez. That honor instead went to Trout. Cotto was back in the ring the following Fall.

Wins against what some pointed to as subpar talents in Delvin Rodriguez and Daniel Geale had sandwiched in between them a win over a slow, plodding and essentially one-legged shell of Sergio Martinez. By the time he made it to the ring against Canelo two years ago, he was faded stock, at least in terms of the big picture. He would’ve likely had to knock out Canelo twice to win because the redhead from Guadalajara was, as he is now the hottest in boxing commodities.

Cotto took an almost two year hiatus before he signed this past Summer with Golden Boy Promotions. His comeback bout was an August win over Yoshihiro Kamegai for the vacant WBO junior middleweight title. So, here we are. Understandably, neither Canelo Alvarez nor Gennady Golovkin would be available for Cotto’s swan song at the Garden, yet Sadam Ali wasn’t exactly what many were expecting. We can only wonder how New Yorkers are taking to Miguel’s farewell in Manhattan. Actually, we don’t.

Welcome to blue heaven. For those of us who have ever been to an event at ‘The World’s Most Famous Arena,’ the area known as blue heaven would be a familiar one indeed. Back in the day, as some like to say, the varying levels of Madison Square Garden were color-coded and this was the ultimate line of division between what many saw as true fans and those who were simply there to be seen. The latter were the ones who often sat on their hands and they still exist today. Blue seats meant the cheapest in the arena and also usually had the most interesting clientele nestled within them.

Is Miguel Cotto still a mainstay in New York City? His upcoming bout with Sadam Ali will the tenth time he’s fought at Madison Square Garden. As of today, there’s more than a few seats available not only on the floor, but the majority of the arena as well. Although there’s still more than two weeks to go, the bout doesn’t appear to be headed for a sellout by any stretch of the imagination, even though tickets are priced as low as fifty dollars. That will get you a seat in blue heaven, of course. Ticketmaster’s website is a bit hard to believe, but people don’t seem to be interested in this one. It’s okay, of course because HBO will do a great job of angling the house lights so we don’t see the sea of empty seats on TV.

Is the contest too close to the holiday shopping season? Or is it perhaps the view that Cotto is nowhere near the force he once was and his opponent isn’t a familiar name? When his career is finally examined as a finished product, will he be viewed as an all-time great? It’s a fair question. He had some great nights, to be sure yet when he faced the best of the generation, he fell short. How would his career have been different had his July 2008 bout with Antonio Margarito gone the way it appeared to be heading in the early rounds?

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  1. The Beast of Bodmin 03:48pm, 11/18/2017

    Interesting question as to whether Cotto is an all time great, probably not if viewed dispassionately, but he is one of the best of his time imho.
    One of my favourites anyway. Class act, never resorted to over the top trash talk, just quietly got on with the job and fought whoever.
    In many ways his fight against Clottey sums him up for me. If memory serves me correct he got a bad cut early from a head clash, but rather than try and weasel out with a NC he ploughed on with a tough fight.
    And it’s not his fault that Martinez decided to fight with a gammy knee.
    Best of luck for the future, Miguel.

  2. Bruno Schleinstein 02:39pm, 11/17/2017

    Don’t know why Cotto picked this guy for his farewell bout…..know this much though….Miguel needs to wipe that smirk off of Sadam’s face early on and then wipe up the floor with him soon after!

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