Mancuso: Cotto and That Legacy at MSG

In boxing there are a few fighters defined with a venue that made them prominent but Miguel Cotto, a Puerto Rican boxing legend and Madison Square Garden became a perfect combination. Saturday night the future boxing Hall of Famer will fight in the main arena for the 10th and final time.

And for the 10th time Saturday night, Miguel Cotto will highlight the main event at Madison Square Garden. But this time it will be different than all his other fights at the Garden, because after the final punch against Sadam Ali, it will be the finale for Miguel Cotto after 17- years in a boxing ring.

So the main event is not the story here for Cotto, 37 years of age, who will defend his junior middleweight title. It will be about Miguel Cotto and the legacy he leaves at Madison Square Garden which is appropriate as the venue known as “The Mecca” for boxing and the many champions who left a mark in the arena.

And now you can add Miguel Cotto as one of those legends who made boxing continue that legacy at Madison Square Garden, along with Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and that illustrious ton of names that are a part of MSG boxing history.

And Cotto, a six time world champion and only four division champion from Puerto Rico, has sold out the arena nine times, more than any other fighter that laced up the gloves at the Garden. He also established a record number of ticket sales for a fighter at the Garden and for the promoters that meant it was good business.

A majority of those title fights were with Top Rank, Cotto’s original promoter and seven were held a night before the annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York. So there was a following of many New York boxing fans from Puerto Rico, and there were many more fans Cotto gained along this marvelous ride to stardom as a world class fighter.

But the Garden will always be a lasting legacy for Miguel Cotto, and it was only appropriate that the final fight would be held at the most famous  arena in the world. And when you consider Hall of Famer Hector Camacho, and an icon known as Felix Trinidad who were two of the finest to fight out of Puerto Rico, that legacy for Miguel Cotto does speak volumes.

The crowd loved Miguel Cotto in New York and lived through every punch. And sell out or not Saturday night, that same enthusiasm will be heard for the final time because it will be their hero  Miguel Cotto fighting also for the last time.

Cotto said Thursday afternoon, “On Saturday, I’ll be the same Miguel Cotto you watched for the last 16 years. I’m going to be a warrior inside the ring. I’m going to do my best as always for the benefit of my family.”

It has always been about his family. And it has always been about his family of fans in New York City and at Madison Square Garden. When Cotto left promoter Bob Arum and Top Rank to the Jay-Z promotional band of boxing for more money, his first fight with that promotion and his entity known as Miguel Cotto Promotions was across the river in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center.

That time, Miguel Cotto had no fight and could not vouch for continuing his streak at the Garden and obvious because  Jay-Z has a financial interest at the Barclays Center. He went with a plan and the legacy continued with his last few fights working under Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions, as will be the situation Saturday night with a good undercard and televised on HBO Championship Boxing.

Cotto, 41-5, 33 KO’s gets to finish that legacy against Sadam Ali the hometown hero from Brooklyn who moved up in weight. He is the huge underdog despite having a good amateurbackground as the 2012 U.S. Olympian and brings a 25-1. 14 KO’s career mark to Cotto.

Perhaps this is not going to be a career moment for Cotto, unless he goes out with a loss. And Sadam  Ali will be like all the other other opponents who have opposed Cotto. He will make this a fight because the legend of Miguel Cotto will be in the other corner.

“I know there’s a lot of people saying this might not be a good fight,” said Ali. “Everybody can say what they want, but when we get in there Saturday night you’re gonna see an amazing fight.”

Cotto had that intense training camp and his sixth fight working with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach was no different than all the others. It was hard, and Cotto, according to Roach, looked like he was in his prime. Roach also said he is happy that his fighter is going out on top.

And regardless what happens in the ring Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, Miguel Cotto will always be on top of the “Mecca” the arena  he always called his second home away from home.

He will walk away from the punches and roar of a crowd. And Miguel Cotto will no longer have to answer questions about that redemption fight and win over Antonio Margarito, this after the first fight where Margarito used plaster under the gloves that left Cotto with a loss and battered face.

There is always a chance that Miguel Cotto will take a year off and return again. Fighters tend to miss the crowd, that walk to the ring, and of course the money that comes along with the sport. The difference here is a financially secured Miguel Cotto and now he gets to spend more time with his real family at home.

He will await induction as the newest member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and there will be a unanimous vote for that enshrinement up in Canastota New York.

As Cotto said, “I’m just another. I was just a kid who wanted to be a boxer, then became a man. All I did in my life, in my career, was try to do my best. It’s not my job to put myself in any position. I just tried to do my best every day.”

For sure there is no debate that Miguel Cotto leaves that legacy at Madison Square Garden. And it’s because he did it with perfection each and every time he entered the ring before his other family of fans in the  Garden main arena.

It was a venue made for Miguel Cotto and there may never be another fighter who can make that impact.

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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