Ali Expects Critics to Discredit His Win Because Miguel Cotto is 'Old'

Miguel Cotto fight time

Miguel Cotto fight time

There was Ali, moving well, landing crisp, clean shots, putting on the kind of performance the naysayers didn't believe he was capable of delivering.

Ali came out for the final round firing punches with both hands.

Centre in Nassau, the Bahamas. "The Greatest" was a paunchy and career-high 236¼ pounds, his once-wondrous hand and foot speed perceptibly diminished.

Holder of six belts in four weight classes in his distinguished career-and the only boxer from the tradition-rich Caribbean island to own four such titles-he retires with a reputation as one of the classiest and fearless fighters of his era.

Cotto would end up going to the hospital after the fight with a torn tendon in his left biceps. But the eye test should and usually does supersede statistics.

"I worked hard for it", said Ali, who won by scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 115-113.

And therein lay an immutable truth of boxing. He treated them to yet another thrilling fight. The punch that he once would have landed now misses by inches, and the punch the other guy would have missed now finds the target.

Cotto said he hurt his left biceps in the seventh round, per the HBO broadcast.

"I don't want to make excuses", he said. Sadam Ali didn't read that particular script however, claiming an tight unanimous points verdict after the fight went the championship distance. It is my last fight. "I am good, and I want to be happy in my home with my family".

"Thank you for all the fans", he said.

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"I am proud to call MSG my second home", Cotto said. "But this is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I took the challenge against a legend", Ali said. A largely Puerto Rican crowd of 12,391 was on hand Saturday.

But Ali looked strong, fast and determined against Cotto, as he dropped Cotto to 8-2 at the Garden and 20-6 in world title fights, many of them among the most memorable in recent boxing history. He came into the fight an underdog.

Although officials with Cotto's present promoter, Golden Boy, insisted that Ali was the best available opponent for the locked-in December 2 date, there was at least some suspicion that the 2008 U.S. Olympian was considered a safer choice than some other perceived party-poopers. Ali won a unanimous decision to take his junior middleweight world title in a major upset. To date, Vargas has only 10 KOs among his 27 pro wins.

Cotto's trainer, the great Freddie Roach, believes his fighter would have been up for such a challenge against either man but is now ready to deal with what is in front of him. Ali moved away, smiling, but he was hurt from the shots.

In the second round, Ali appeared to stagger Cotto momentarily with an overhand right.

Ali fell to the canvas not long after he staggered Cotto, but the referee rightly ruled it a slip.

It hadn't. Indeed, Ali won the final four rounds on all three judges' cards.

Cotto, meanwhile, leaves boxing with a legacy that can't be tarnished by this loss.

For Ali, who earned $600,000 for Saturday's work compared to $750,000 for Cotto, it was a career-altering night signaling a star on the rise. Yet, it was Vargas who looked the worse when they left the ring. How that translates into future success, or not, is anyone's guess, but some moments in any fighter's career are to be forever cherished and this figures to be at the top of his list for now. "I knew I had to do something, or he would have dug in".

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