Saturday, December 9, 2017

Thanks for the Memories

I'm sure that over the course of the past four days you have read plenty of takes about what transpired last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. For this writer when I heard that Miguel Cotto would be fighting Sadam Ali in his farewell fight I must admit that originally I thought to myself why bother trying to attend. However, as the fight drew closer a serious bout of nostalgia took over and thankfully I was able to make the trek from Philadelphia into the Big Apple.

The reason for my case of nostalgia was the fact that back in 2004 I received a message from the now defunct company Ricoqui. At the time they were in charge of running the official website for super contender Miguel Cotto. In what would become my introduction into writing about the sweet science, I was named the official writer for the site. This granted me access to the sport at its highest level. As a result, trips to New York and the Garden from 2005 until the end of the site in 2009 became a welcomed norm.

As I entered the arena one last time to cover the final fight of Miguel Cotto, the occasion itself became a moment for yours truly to reminisce on the true meaning of what was about to take place. You see this fight was more than just the end of a Hall of Fame career. Years from now 2017 will be known for several things, including the year when many of one generation’s star fighters decided to call it a day in the sport.  This Cotto-Ali fight would come to represent most likely the final instance of this taking place in the year of generational swing. (Aside from Manny Pacquaio, who has more than just one foot out the door.) As the cross blend fights between the young lions on the rise and the last generation’s champions took place. It didn't exactly hit me that this was indeed the eventual changing of the guard.

However, that is what made last Saturday night even more special. As I took in the crowd, which was larger than I thought it would be, the fight unfolded in the manner in which it did. A serious realization took hold of me of the strides that I have been able to make within the sport as a writer since the first time covering Cotto in the Garden back in 2005. Writing for allowed me the access to parlay and take advantage of opportunities to advance in this field. As I continue to progress and as the sport continues to push forward,  the career of Miguel Cotto will always symbolize the foundation of whatever else I will achieve in the future.

As for the fight, Sadam "Wonder Kid" Ali did what he, his team, and a few folks thought he could do. Congratulations to him for seizing his opportunity, achieving his dream, and fulfilling one of his goals. The cherry on top for him had to be when his supporters and team carried him on their shoulders out the front door of the Garden. I must admit it was a cool site to witness. I'm not one for snapping pictures or social media, but that scene was definitely worthy.

Miguel Cotto fought valiantly, but in the end he looked his age. Fighters can get old over night and Cotto, even though Ali is a much tougher opponent, clearly was different fighter between his comeback in August and this night in December. When I think of December 2nd and Miguel Cotto, I'll always think back to 2006 and his fight in Atlantic City when he captured the WBA welterweight championship. He beat Carlos Quintana into submission that night. On the other side of the coin, December 2nd, 2017 was clearly the end.

His punches looked slower than molasses and while he never had a fast jab, it was  his timing on the jab that helped keep Shane Mosley at bay during their super fight and his best career victory ten years ago. On this night, even prior to the injury, Ali while caught with it a few times saw mostly everything coming his way, including the devastating Miguel Cotto left hook.

I turned to other writers and said, "win, lose or draw, this really should be it for him.  I don't want him to ever come back and force us to remember the shell of what he was." Ali, again to his credit, took advantage of this fact and was even able to land a variation of the one punch (aside from that Pacquiao left uppercut that almost decapitated Cotto) that seemed to be the shot that always almost put him out, the right hand.  A right hook from DeMarcus Corley, several straight rights in exchange from Ricardo Torres, looping rights from Mosley and Mayweather, and hooks and jabs from Austin Trout, were always the shots that controlled the often undersized wrecking ball that was Miguel Cotto. Sadam Ali simply joined this group and used the punch to put an exclamation point on his performance.

In victory Sadam Ali is no longer just the "Wonder Kid," he is now a World Champion. With the closing of Miguel Cotto's career and this generation, the sport of boxing can now look forward towards the future.  So let's all turn the page together and enjoy the ride that awaits.

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