By Robert Dominguez
After an illustrious 16-year career highlighted by a 41-5 record, six world titles in four different weight classes and a litany of memorable brawls against some of boxing’s greatest champions, Miguel Cotto will step between the ropes for the last time on Dec. 2.
Cotto, who will defend his WBO light middleweight title against Sadam Ali at Madison Square Garden, long ago announced he would retire after the fight — win or lose — and enjoy being a full-time husband and father to his four children.
“The first thing I am going to do is spend quality time with my family and then let’s see what happens next,” Cotto told the Daily News. “I haven’t thought about anything else yet.”
He will also take great pleasure out of capping his career at the Garden, which has long been the Puerto Rican fighter’s de facto home stadium.
The Ali bout marks the tenth time Cotto will have fought at the Garden, where he sports an 8-1 record.
“Madison Square Garden became my home many years ago,” Cotto said.
“We couldn’t have found a better place to finish my career than at Madison Square Garden because of what I have accomplished in the building,” added Cotto, whose only loss there was against light middleweight August Trout in 2012.
The occasion of Cotto’s final fight has lately spurred boxing pundits to pay final tribute to the surefire Hall of Famer who will long be remembered as a fierce competitor and powerful puncher who never cowered to a better opponent — and there were several.
Cotto, who turned pro in 2001 after representing Puerto Rico at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, has gone toe-to-toe with such boxing greats as Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Canelo Alvarez , Shane Mosley and Sergio Martinez as Cotto grew from a light welterweight to middleweight.
And while he lost his bouts with Mayweather, Pacquiao and Alvarez, Cotto went the 12-round distance with each, further endearing him to loyal fans who have always appreciated his huge heart.
But the Alvarez fight, which took place in Las Vegas in November 2015, is arguably Cotto’s most disappointing loss.
Then 35 years old, Cotto showed plenty of his trademark heart — and hard head — as he stood up to the hard-hitting Mexican ten years his junior.
But Alvarez walked away with a unanimous, if close, decision that Cotto reportedly felt should have gone his way.
“I did my best,” Cotto told The News, before adding what can be considered his credo as a prizefighter.
“I didn’t get the victory. But I did get the satisfaction of giving my best always, which is what you get out of every one of my fights.”
Robert Dominguez, a senior editor at the New York Daily News, is also the managing editor of Viva, The News’ Latino lifestyle magazine, and is the co-author of “Bronx Bummers: The Unofficial History of the New York Yankees’ Bad Boys, Blunders and Brawls.” firstname.lastname@example.org
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