He kept it short, as per usual, and bittersweet, in his final stand at the mic at a press conference, did Miguel Cotto on Thursday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, where he’s been a seat filler for over a decade.
“I will be the same Miguel Cotto,” he said, and “it has been a pleasure to try and entertain you for the last 17 years.” No tears, he held it together, and it must have been no small feat.
He is 37, the calendar said it in October, and he said he sat down with the wife and kids and decided this would be the final run in a storied career, which had him be the signature Puerto Rican athlete of his generation, again, no small feat.
Cotto turned pro in 2001, so he damn well deserves to call it a day, and a night, and do anything he wants with his mornings, noons and nights.
It was noted that he is still an A grade pugilist, by Eric Gomez, the Golden Boy executive who presided over the presser, and of course reminded us that tix were still available but “going fast.”
In fact, the 41-5 Cotto, since he isn’t going out with a bang against a fellow A lister, on paper, the joint will not likely be at capacity, as it was for his fruitful run from 2006 to 2014.
To the wayback machine…He inserted a few Vegas hits, of course, but Top Rank and Miguel Cotto for the Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend was a lock, an NYC given. I thought maybe he got extra judge love when he fought Shane Mosley in MSG in 2007, as I saw him moving too much, wasting motion, arguably. But not to quibble, as we consider this is the last one. (With the side helping of caution, in that is the fighter who is the exception that STAYS retired.) Because the man deserves it for not being too cautious a self manager. He took on Mosley, still A grade, and then Antonio Margarito, who inflicted upon him a beating that had people thinking, in retrospect, might have not been on the up and up. (Google it, I'm not re-litigating that, not here and now). They came back, to adore and roar, when he got a comeback soft touch in Michael Jennings in 2009, and through it all, with us, he was professional, never prone to filibuster—his best sound bites came in the ring, with that left hook a real ripper, making foes wince. He faced a career apex Manny Pacquiao, then possessing A plus grade power and other-worldly stamina, but kept at it. MSG rocked, the decibels were Who concert level when he vanquished Margarito here in 2011, and he had another buzz boost when he came back here and grabbed Sergio Martinez’ middleweight strap.
By then, Freddie Roach..
..was his guru and they settled in terrifically together. Freddie had Miguel moving less and fighting smarter, not harder. A loss to Canelo Alvarez was no dark stain on a helluva career, and he closes it out—we THINK—against Sadam Ali..
..who was chosen after other turned down the opportunity. Ali is trying to climb a high hill with a leaded back-pack, coming up from 147, but insists we will see a fan friendly fight, and that he’s here to win. I believe him, and will note he is nothing but a superb role model as a human being, and the world can always use those.
Roach at the mic declared that Cotto, with him for the sixth time, has “never looked better” at this juncture before a bout. He said there was no nostalgia swirling as they readied themselves at the iconic Wild Card, they simply concentrated on the task and test at hand.
Naw, it won’t sell out at MSG on Saturday, not with so much other product having been available from mid October to Dec. 9 in the area. But the palace will rattling like it’s full, I dare say. There would likely maybe be a full house of Puerto Rico hadn’t been dropped to the canvas by Mother Nature…see here’s hoping all the affected can find a spot to watch Saturday, and forget their woes for 36 minutes. We can wait for a final summation on Cotto til he drops his last sweat droplet to his canvas…but all in all, we should I think consider that such talent and particularly such longevity is a rarity. We here at NYF thank him for his service to the sport.