Everything was in place for Miguel Cotto’s farewell party. Here he was back at Madison Square Garden where he scored two of his most satisfying triumphs, avenging his bitter loss to Antonio Margarito in 2011 and capturing the lineal middleweight title with a dominant performance over Sergio Martinez in 2014. In the opposite corner was a hand-picked opponent, Sadam Ali, a sacrificial lamb said the pundits.
But Ali brought his own script, sending the 37-year-old Puerto Rican off into retirement (assuming he stays retired) on a downbeat note by winning a unanimous decision. There was no controversy when all three judges scored the bout for the underdog, giving Ali the nod by scores of 116-112 and 115-113 twice.
During his storied career, Cotto (41-6, 33 KOs) won world titles at 140, 147, 154, and 160 pounds before returning to the junior middleweight division. His WBO 154-pound belt was at stake tonight and it now belongs to Sadam Ali.
In his third start since losing by TKO 9 to Jessie Vargas with a vacant world welterweight belt at stake, the 29-year-old Brooklyn-born son of Yemeni immigrants, a 2008 U.S. Olympian, comprehensively out-boxed his heavily favored adversary, winning the early rounds with his superior hand speed and finishing strong after it appeared that Cotto had turned the tide by winning the sixth and seventh frames. There were no knockdowns.
In the co-feature, a battle of unbeatens, Mexico City’s Rey Vargas (31-0) overcame cuts above both eyes to successfully defend his WBC 122-pound belt with a unanimous decision over LA-based Columbian Oscar Negrete (17-1). Uncommonly tall for his weight class, Vargas exploited his height and reach advantage to turn back his spunky but limited opponent in a match that was somewhat more interesting than the final tallies (120-108, 119-109, 119-109) indicated.
In a 12-round contest in the light flyweight division, Puerto Rican knockout artist Angel Acosta 17-1 (17 KOs) got back on the winning track with a 10th round stoppage of Mexico’s Juan Alejo (25-5-1). This was Acosta’s first start since losing a 12-round decision in Japan to defending WBO 108-pound champion Kosei Tanaka.
In a non-televised 10-round featherweight match, Ronny Rios (29-2) bounced back from his loss to the aforementioned Vargas with a unanimous decision over Columbia’s Deivis Julio (19-4). The scores were 100-90, 99-91, and 97-93. Also, Brooklyn’s Zachary Ochoa improved to 18-2 with a lopsided 6-round decision over Mexico’s Erick Martinez.
The pro debut of Ireland’s 18-year-old welterweight prospect Aaron McKenna was cancelled when his Mexican opponent failed to submit all of his paperwork to the New York Commission in a timely manner.
Be sure to check back later for Bernard Fernandez’s ringside report.
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