Cotto to defend title vs. Ali in final fight


Junior middleweight world titleholder Miguel Cotto will bring to an end his surefire Hall of Fame career in a defense against Sadam Ali, Golden Boy Promotions announced on Wednesday.

The fight, which will take place on Dec. 2 (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT) at Madison Square Garden, was agreed to in recent days but is now signed, according to Golden Boy, which promotes both fighters.

A news conference to kick off the promotion is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, where Cotto has been a huge draw throughout his career thanks to the tremendous support from the large Puerto Rican community in New York.

“What can you say about Miguel Cotto that hasn’t already been said during his two decades in boxing?” Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya said. “He is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, a true legend in Puerto Rico, New York and beyond, and a true credit to the sport of boxing.”

The fight with Ali will be Cotto’s 10th at the Garden, where he stands 8-1. He has scored some of his biggest wins there, including against Sergio Martinez for the middleweight world title, a rematch with Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi. The one loss came by upset decision to Austin Trout in 2012.

Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs), who will turn 37 on Oct. 29, said he stands by his previous comments that the fight will be the last of a career in which he has won six world titles and is the only Puerto Rican man to win titles in four weight classes (middleweight, junior middleweight, welterweight and junior welterweight).

“I’m very excited to be back in the ring for my final fight at the Garden. I’ve worked really hard my entire career to be at this level,” Cotto said. “I am fully concentrated on getting together with (trainer) Freddie Roach so we can work hard and have a great victory on Dec. 2.”

Cotto will be making the first defense of the vacant junior middleweight title he won by lopsided decision against Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai on Aug. 26. That bout was Cotto’s first since November 2015, when he lost a decision and recognition as middleweight world champion to Canelo Alvarez.

Ali (25-1, 14 KOs), 29, a 2008 U.S. Olympian from Brooklyn, New York, will move up one weight class for the fight. He was far from Cotto and Golden Boy’s first choice as an opponent but deals with other fights could not be finalized for various reasons.

But Ali is excited to the opportunity to ruin Cotto’s retirement party as he fights for a world title for the second time. In March 2016, Ali suffered a ninth-round knockout at the hands of Jessie Vargas in their fight for a vacant welterweight world title. Ali has won three in a row since.

“I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to fight a legend in Madison Square Garden in front of all my fans and on HBO,” Ali said. “My time is now. God willing, I will leave the Garden with the championship belt.”


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