Rarely do legendary sports careers have the perfect fairy tale ending and Miguel Cotto learned that lesson the hard way.
In what is his final boxing match, Cotto lost the WBO junior middleweight title to Sadam Ali in front of more than 12,000 people at Madison Square Garden. Cotto announced all year long that 2017 would be his last year as a boxer and that the Ali fight would be his last.
The future Hall of Famer lost the title via unanimous decision (116-112, 115-113, 115-113) much to the displeasure of the pro-Cotto crowd at the Garden, where Cotto has headlined 10 times and achieved legendary feats within the sport. Fightful had also scored the fight in favor of Ali 115-113 during its live coverage.
As it is with every Cotto fight, the bout was wildly entertaining with both men creating opportunities to knock the opponent out, with Ali punishing Cotto since the start of the fight. In the first four rounds, Cotto's legs got wobbly with every hard right hand that Ali lands on Cotto's face, but Cotto was eventually able to bounce back midway throughout the fight. Cotto was able to adjust defensively and take Ali's right hand out of the equation and even got to pressure and hurt Ali on a few instances.
But as it was revealed in the post-fight interview and confirmed by Oscar De La Hoya in the post-fight press conference, Cotto tore his left biceps in the seventh round, taking out Cotto's signature left body hook, a punch that had been feared and respected by the boxing community throughout the entirety of his career.
“[I'm] feeling good. Feeling good with the performance. Something happened to my left bicep, seventh round. I don’t want to make excuses, Sadam won the fight. It is my last fight. I am good, and I want to be happy in my home with my family," Cotto said in the post-fight interview.
Ali dominated the fight after Cotto's left bicep got torn, winning the last three rounds to score the monumental upset. After so many boxers turn down the fight, Ali stepped up to take the challenge and was grateful to Cotto for giving him the opportunity to fight.
“I worked hard for it. I took advantage of this fight, and I made sure to make it count. I want to Thank God, and also thank team Cotto, They could have taken an easier fight if they wanted too," Ali said.
Now Ali captured the world title he never got when he lost to then-WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas in 2016, joining Erislandy Lara (WBA), Jermell Charlo (WBC) and Jarrett Hurd (IBF) as world champions at 154 pounds.
For Cotto, it was his final farewell, with HBO, Cotto's longtime television home paying homage to the Puerto Rican icon throughout the telecast and showing a special commemorative video at the end of the night. Cotto retires with a 41-6 record, holding the honor of being the only Puerto Rican male boxer to win world titles in four different weight classes, fighting the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Shane Mosley, Zab Judah, Sergio Martinez and many more world champions.