Miguel Cotto vs. Sadam Ali? Where’s HBO Quality Control?

By Paul Magno on October 10, 2017
Miguel Cotto vs. Sadam Ali? Where’s HBO Quality Control?
It could be argued that Cotto, after a career full of hard-fought bouts, deserves a gimme.

HBO needs to deliver premium boxing content all the time and not the occasional war sandwiched between all-star squashes and/or showcases…

If what Team Cotto told RingTV.com is accurate, they had no choice but to have their guy face welterweight fringe contender and “Where are they now” candidate Sadam Ali for his December farewell-to-boxing fight in New York—it was simply the best available option.

Middleweight David Lemieux was nixed from consideration. Boxing’s other three recognized junior middleweight champs were already signed to fights. And opponent options like Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson, and James Kirkland were either unavailable or not at all interested in the December date.

So, Cotto had no choice but to fight Ali, right?

That’s a little like saying that you had no choice but to eat out of your neighbor’s dumpster because Applebee’s and Outback Steakhouse were closed. Of course, there were better, more deserving, and more challenging options out there for the WBO junior middleweight champion of the world. Ali, as a fellow Golden Boy fighter, was simply the easiest fall guy to sign.

It certainly could be argued that Cotto, after a long and not-always-uncomplicated career full of hard-fought bouts, deserves a gimme. And there’s nothing dishonorable about a victory lap at home for your loyal fans.

However, if you recall, we had this exact same conversation in August when Cotto faced ultra-limited and supremely tailor-made fall guy Yoshihiro Kamegai in what played out to be a predictably ugly one-sided romp. Now, with the apparent signing of the Ali bout, we get the same situation—a safe, tailor-made stylistic mismatch against a second tier Golden Boy-aligned role player.

If one didn’t know better, one could think that Cotto specifically signed with Golden Boy for these well-controlled spoon feedings.

And if this is actually the case, then BRAVO to Cotto for gaming the system and, ultimately, avoiding the life-grinding gears of a sport virtually built on the destruction of old heroes. Careers such as Cotto’s usually finish with the protagonist taking increasingly dreadful beatings from younger and hungrier rising stars for relatively small paydays. Kudos to Cotto, from a human perspective, for finishing off his career with big money for safe encounters.

But this business triumph for Cotto, the human being, is hardly a win-win for fans. HBO subscribers, who will see Cotto-Ali counted as “premium content” under the HBO Boxing banner, are being asked to pay for this round of batting practice as part of their monthly fee. No matter how you see Cotto or this particular fight or HBO Boxing in general, it’s pretty safe to say that nobody had a fight like this in mind when the premium cable network was first pegged to broadcast high-end boxing way back in the 80’s.

Yes, Cotto is still one of the sport’s biggest draws and this upcoming bout would draw solid numbers even if it featured Cotto battling a Madison Square Garden beer vendor. And, yeah, it’s understandable how Team Cotto would push for the easiest possible match-up with the largest possible purse for their fighter. But, where the hell is HBO Boxing quality control?

Where is the front line of discerning HBO suits who used to routinely put the kibosh on match-ups unfit for their airwaves?

And, no, HBO doesn’t get a pass on mismatches just because they’ve delivered on some good bouts, either. If the goal of the network is to deliver premium boxing content, then they need to deliver premium boxing content all the time and not the occasional war sandwiched between all-star squashes and/or showcases.

If the boxing world has to accept stuff like Miguel Cotto vs. Sadam Ali, then promoters need to find a way to fund fights like this on free TV or basic cable. The fact that they can only pay for these kinds of bouts by sneaking them on to subscribers’ cable bills says a lot about their worth on the open boxing market.

So, let Cotto (or anyone for that matter) fight anyone he chooses. There’s no issue with a professional deciding on what he wants to do with his own career. But let him and his people figure out a way to make a profit from this kind of matchmaking without forcing fans to subsidize it.

Most boxing fans like and respect Miguel Cotto, but I doubt many are happy about paying for his year-long victory lap around the sport.

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  1. Hassan Rouhani 12:21pm, 10/11/2017

    Quality contol or not….that snotty smirk has got to go!

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