“AFLAC!!!! OMG… AFLAC!!!”
My own honest reaction to Golden Boy Promotion's announcement of Miguel Cotto V Sadam Ali on December 2 at Madison Square Garden.
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To be sure, the career of WBO super welterweight champion Miguel Cotto has no need for life insurance. The Puerto Rican legend is a first ballot Hall of Fame fighter, and in my opinion, is the very best fighter to emerge from the proud island.
I imagine Oscar De La Hoya came over for an episode of “Shameless” when they came up with this. Because let's be honest… Yushihiro Kamegai and Sadam Ali are free cab rides to the station. David Lemieux is a fairly expensive uber from a distance. Jermell Charlo is a limo from Puerto Rico.
Back in early May, I attended the dual unveiling of Cotto's partnership with Golden Boy/HBO and the official presser for his August 26 encounter with Kamegai at Staples Center in Los Angeles. It had action fight written all over it, while obviously serving as a very scripted world title win for Cotto's skillset.
After an acrimonious departure from the fledgling ROC Nation (which failed to yield a somewhat mouth watering scrap with Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez), a scheduled fight with the defensively clueless and Canelo concussed James Kirkland was scuttled. Then, the shrewd Cotto got in bed with Golden Boy, with the promise of advancing the storied tradition of boxing in Puerto Rico during pillow talk.
It didn't happen against Japan's Kamegai and fighting Yemen's Sadam Ali at MSG won't do it either. But what it will do is cast national attention on the Puerto Rican flag, while giving a very large Latino fanbase in the Big Apple a much needed slice of comfort pride. Many of them have relatives still suffering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria and can use an emotional boost. But here's where it gets tricky, because many of them are still trying to help their people financially.
These Nuyorican people are Americans – not unlike Puerto Ricans themselves – connected to over 3 million people still without electricity. What's worse, is of that number, over 1 million of these human beings (many of them children) still do not have running water.
Yet, this is the very demographic in our great city of New York, being asked to financially support Cotto V Ali.
Sure, Cotto will successfully defend his gift wrapped title against Ali (last seen when it counts being bludgeoned by Jessie Vargas at 147), but will find himself in an indefensible position if a considerable amount of the Cotto V Ali proceeds do not make it back to that island.
Just before WBC super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo electrocuted Erickson Lubin, IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr confirmed that Golden Boy made a 2.5 million dollar offer to essentially destroy Cotto. But boy was there a catch, for the deal was contingent on Spence signing with Golden Boy (which, would no doubt benefit a retiring Cotto in the fine print). They knew to avoid Charlo altogether– for reasons you just witnessed; but mainly, because he's not popular enough for Miguel to sacrifice himself for.
Golden Boy went after Spence and Danny Garcia to come up to 154. Ditto Jessie Vargas and Lamont Peterson. They even had the audacity to go after Mikey Garcia, who showed against Adrien Broner just how powerless he would be at 147. Not coincidentally, these are all Al Haymon fighters featured with Premier Boxing Champions on network TV, a clever ruse to lure in a PPV piece or two with a complicit Cotto as bait.
In reality, Cotto is better than the way his career will end, made worse by a meaningless KO victory over an Ali that an injured Keith Thurman Jr (“One-Time” fa real with one arm) would slap around tonight. This is the same guy that told us he wanted the winner of Gennady Golovkin V Canelo Alvarez in a December 31 finale. Now, we know he was just using their trending names with motive.
I just hope that on his way to the Hall of Fame, Miguel Cotto doesn't forget how important he is to his people. Because people who know they are important think about others. People who think they are important, think about themselves.