By Robert Dominguez
Miguel Cotto fought for his family, and now he’s retiring for them.
When the 37-year-old steps into the ring at Madison Square Garden Saturday night against Sadam Ali, it’ll mark the end of a 16-year, Hall of Fame-worthy career that saw the Rhode Island-born, Puerto Rico-raised prizefighter take home six championship belts across four weight classes.
But Cotto (41-5, 33 KO), who will defend his WBO light middleweight crown against Sadam Ali, is hardly feeling nostalgic about this being his final fight. His focus, of course, is on capping a brilliant career with a victory. But he’s mostly looking forward to settling down and enjoying his post-boxing life with his wife and kids.
“I have been thinking of retiring for the last three years,” Cotto told the Daily News. “But last year was when I decided this was going to be my last year in boxing, and the main reason is my family.
“I’ve been boxing for the last 26 years of my life. I became a father again 11 years ago. I’ve been sacrificing my family since then for boxing, and now it’s time to be with them and enjoy as much time with them as possible, and enjoy the benefits of having your family with you,” added Cotto, who has four children, the eldest 21.
That’s not to say Cotto is taking his final opponent lightly. He knows that Ali – a Brooklyn-born Yemeni-American whose sole loss in 26 bouts came last year against Jesse Vargas for the vacant WBO lightweight title – will not only be fighting on his home turf, but will be looking to make a name for himself by wresting a belt from one of the all-time greats before a large national audience on HBO.
“We chose him to be (my) last fight, but I know what he’s capable of doing in a ring,” said Cotto, who this year signed with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. “I’m putting myself (through) the best regimen possible just to beat him.”
A loss, Cotto added, would not change his mind about this being the final time he laces up.
“This is going to be my last fight no matter what happens,” he said. “I have been training with victory in my mind since Day One and I’m going to do whatever it takes to win this fight.”
Win or lose, Cotto said he’s not concerned with his legacy and how he stacks up against other champions in boxing history.
“It’s not my job to put myself onto a list,” he said. “I’m just trying to do the best I can with every opportunity I’ve gotten in my life. People who know (boxing) will have that decision to make. They know where they’re going to put me.”
His proudest achievements, he insisted, aren’t his titles or the thrills he gave his fans.
“It’s being able to provide the best whenever possible for my kids, giving them the opportunity to get the best education, to make them the best human beings they can be. That’s going to be my legacy,” Cotto said.
“I’m here because of my family and I work hard every day for them.”
Photo by Getty Images