Aftermath: Cotto vs Ali
In the wake of Miguel Cotto's shock Saturday night loss to Sadam Ali in his final fight we asked Callum Rudge, James Oddy, Colin Harris and Michael Montero for their assessment of the fight and the Puerto Rican's legacy...
BM: How big a surprise was Ali's win? And how much does it hurt Cotto's 'legacy'?
CR: It was a big surprise, Ali was seen as a soft touch for Cotto to retire on. Cotto looked good vs Kamegai in August and Ali was still rebuilding after being stopped at welter by Jessie Vargas. As it turns out it's now a candidate for upset of the year. I also think it does hurt his legacy - Cotto now has three losses vs fighters who are less than elite (Trout, Ali and Margarito, although the latter has a big asterisk next to it). While he’s a first ballot hall of famer I think he’s short of being an all-time great.
JO: I was extremely dismissive of Ali in my preview of the fight, although I don't think it was controversial to suggest he wouldn't pose much of a threat - it was the consensus view. As such, Ali's win was an upset of the year candidate. Regards Cotto's legacy, this result does tarnish it, because it showed, like the Trout loss also did, that Cotto can struggle to change things up when he needs to. He was still a brilliant fighter however.
CH: We didn't expect Ali to win, so it IS an upset. I don't think many of us took him seriously at all. The event was seen as a "Goodbye Cotto" event rather than a competitive contest and we all expected the Puerto Rican to bow out with a clear points win. So it's certainly not great for Cotto's legacy, but as he'd already announced it was his final fight we can all acknowledge that he was a fighter on the way out anyway, and we've seen top fighters bow out with a loss many times before.
MM: It was most certainly an upset, but not all that surprising in retrospect. Cotto has had a long career and it showed in the early rounds of this fight, as he was wobbled several times. Just when he had warmed up and seemed to be taking control, the proud Puerto Rican injured his left bicep and could no longer dig his signature punch to Ali’s body. From that point, youth had its way. This loss does not hurt Cotto’s legacy at all.
BM: What is your assessment of Cotto's career and the extent of his 'greatness'?
CR: Cotto has rightly been commended for his willingness to take on the best fighters in the sport. He was never outclassed by anyone but I always look at him as an 'A-class' fighter who didn’t beat many other 'A-class' fighters, I think Shane Mosley is the exception to that but when it truly mattered, the Puerto Rican often fell short.
JO: Cotto is a Hall of Fame fighter without a doubt and one of the best of his era. An all time great? I don't think he was anywhere near that conversation.
CH: Cotto was one of the greats of his generation and I'm sure he'll get into the IBHOF ... but to me he's never been one of the true greats at any weight he's been champion at. His legacy is more of the 'overall body of work' variety and due to the fact he was the first Puerto Rican four-weight world champ after some brilliant three-weight champs in the past. However the losses through his career keep him from being at the very, very-top of his generation when we look back. There's certainly no shame in losing to Mayweather, Pacquiao or Alvarez, but he is one step below those fighters due to his losses to Trout and Ali, and the Margarito fight (controversy there notwithstanding).
MM: I rate Cotto among the 'fabulous five' of his generation. Floyd, Manny and Wlad were the all-time greats, with Cotto and Juan Manuel Marquez being future hall of famers who fall short of ATG status, but rate among the top ten fighters from their homelands.
BM: Is Ali now a serious player at 154lbs?
CR: 154lbs is a division severely lacking star power now Cotto has left the sport but it is stacked with talent. I would struggle to pick Ali vs the other belt holders; Jermell Charlo, Erislandy Lara and Jarrett Hurd. But I was very impressed with his performance vs Cotto and should he face, say, the UK's Liam Smith next, I wouldn’t make Smith a big favourite in that at all.
JO: Ali is an underrated talent, but I think all three of the other belt holders would be able to deal with him. Then again, I did say he didn't pose a threat to Cotto...
CH: No. Ali was a case of "right place, right time" and will not have a long reign. While he deserves his kudos he scrapes into the world top 10 as the weakest of the four champions at a time when 11st is not as deep with talent as it was a couple of years ago. I think all the other champs will fancy a unification against him and all the top-10 rated non-champions will be chomping at the bit to get a crack at him.
MM: Ali has a world title belt and will likely have a successful defence against Liam Smith next spring. But then what? He would be a serious underdog against the elite of the division – Lara, Charlo and Hurd. He’s certainly a player, but not a serious one.