Heavy Favorite Cotto Calling the Shots in 'Retirement Fight' vs. Ali

Jason Lake

Friday, December 1, 2017 1:42 PM UTC

Friday, Dec. 1, 2017 1:42 PM UTC

Miguel Cotto says Saturday’s title fight against Sadam Ali will be his last. It should be a cakewalk for Cotto – but the boxing odds are moving in the other direction.

Free Boxing Pick: Over 9.5 rounds (+100)Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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Retirements in boxing aren’t worth the paper they’re not written on. But Miguel Cotto, the reigning WBO light middleweight champion and one of the greatest fighters of his generation, says he’ll hang up the gloves after Saturday’s title defense against Sadam Ali. Cotto announced his impending retirement after beating Yoshihiro Kamegai (+300) in August for the vacant belt. Then his camp agreed to terms with Ali, after spurning former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux, among others. Both Cotto and Ali are represented by Golden Boy Promotions. It’s pretty much a slam-dunk for Cotto, right?

That’s what the boxing odds say. At press time, Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) is a gigantic –905 favorite, while Ali (25-1, 14 KOs) is available at +705. But not everyone is willing to eat that mouthful of chalk. Cotto was pegged at –1500 on Nov. 20 before his price started falling, a little bit at a time, leaving us where we are today. Very interesting indeed.

Save Some of That for the Sequel

People do like to put underdogs in their boxing picks. Unlike other sports, where favorites tend to pull in the public money, the sweet science has a built-in soft spot for the ham-and-eggers of the world. Rocky was both the top box-office hit in 1976 and the Best Picture winner at the Oscars. The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh didn’t fare quite as well in 1979, even though it’s clearly the better movie.

Ali trains in the basement of a family home, in a tiny gym built by his Dad, so he’s got that part of the script down pat. He’s also got the redemption angle; in his only other title fight, vs. Jessie Vargas (+200) in March 2016 for the vacant WBO welterweight strap, Ali was behind on all three judges’ scorecards before eating a ninth-round TKO. “Everything was handed to me to that point and I didn’t really work for it,” Ali told The Ring earlier this week. “I won’t make those mistakes again.’’

Spoiler alert: Rocky Balboa didn’t beat Apollo Creed until Rocky II. But Ali has some better real-life examples to look at for motivation, like Joe Smith Jr. (+140) knocking Bernard Hopkins out of the ring in the latter’s retirement match last December. Then again, Hopkins was 51 at the time. Cotto is 37, with plenty left in the tank if he wants to step back inside the squared circle – for the right price, of course. Either way, we’ll take OVER 9.5 rounds in this 12-round fight, which may contain traces of patty-cake. It is what it is.

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