Victory for Ali over Cotto was a case of second time lucky in world title fights after previously challenging for world honours at welterweight.
Miguel Cotto's fight record ends on 41 wins and six defeats. The newly crowned WBO super welterweight champion expects some stubborn observers to attribute his unanimous-decision victory over the 37-year-old Cotto mostly to the former champion's age and/or the left biceps injury he suffered during the seventh round.
"Thank you for supporting me at every opportunity", Cotto told his fans.
"I just wanna say that when we were entering into this fight", Rozier said, "all the naysayers who thought that Sadam couldn't win will probably be the same guys who said that Sadam won by whatever".
"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. I want to thank God and also thank Team Cotto. The 10th round brought out another of Ali's finest rounds as he shocked Cotto with a lunging left hook that backed him up and continued to apply an assault with no response from Cotto. "I knew I had to do something or he would have dug in", Ali said. In the opposite corner was a hand-picked opponent, Sadam Ali, a sacrificial lamb said the pundits. Had he dominated Ali, one could imagine him perhaps getting the itch to take on a Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin, which was the initial plan.
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. "I've learned a lot since my last fight for a world title against Tanaka, and this fight proves that I learned and fixed all I needed to win a world championship". After a close ninth, Ali was in control in the 10th. He won all three of those rounds on all three scorecards.
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"I've been fighting since I was eight years old, and I've been in big arenas".
On the HBO undercard, Rey Vargas outpointed Oscar Negrete in an awkward 12-round brawl in which the champion was left with a swollen and bloody face from head butts.
Ali looked confident and loose from the opening bell, showing quick hands and constantly bouncing around the ring. Even in the post-fight, he reiterated that he's done for good.
Acosta had Alejo, 33, of Mexico, in trouble throughout the later rounds.
Cotto would end up going to the hospital after the fight with a torn tendon in his left biceps.
"It's taken me five years to get here, and I'm cherishing this moment for me and for Puerto Rico", said Acosta.