Photo credits: Stacey Verbeek
NEW YORK CITY – Four division world champion Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) and current WBA International Welterweight Champion Sadam “World Kid” Ali (25-1, 14 KOs) today hosted the final press conference for their WBO World Junior Middleweight Championship fight, which takes place Saturday, Dec. 2 at the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Joining Cotto and Ali at the final press conference were undercard fighters including WBC World Super Bantamweight Champion Rey Vargas (30-0, 22 KOs) and NABF Bantamweight Champion Oscar “El Jaguar” Negrete (17-0, 7 KOs), who will fight for Vargas’s belt in the HBO-televised co-main event. They were also joined by featherweight contender Ronny Rios (28-2, 13 KOs), super lightweight contender Zachary “Zungry” Ochoa (17-1, 7 KOs), junior flyweight contender Angel “Tito” Acosta (16-1, 16 KOs), and Aaron “Silencer” McKenna, Ireland’s no. 1 ranked amateur fighter who will make his professional debut under the Golden Boy Promotions banner on Saturday.
Here are what the fighters, their teams, and promoters had to say at today’s final press conference at Madison Square Garden:
MIGUEL COTTO, FOUR DIVISION WORLD CHAMPION:
“It’s been a pleasure for me to try to entertain you guys for 17 years. I have done my best at every opportunity for the benefit of my family. They mean everything to me and I am so proud of them and they are so proud of me.
“On Saturday, I will be the same Miguel you have watched for the last 16 years. I am going to be a warrior and do my best for the benefit of my family, as always.”
SADAM “WORLD KID” ALI, Current WBA International Welterweight Champion:
“Thank you to Team Cotto for this opportunity. I’ve been training almost my whole life, since I was eight years old. Everyone wants an opportunity like this for a world title against a legend. If you’re not ready for a legend like Miguel Cotto then you’re going to be in trouble. On Saturday night you are going to see an amazing fight.”
FREDDIE ROACH, Trainer to Miguel Cotto:
“It’s a sad moment to say this is our last training camp because I’m going to miss Miguel a lot. Yesterday in the gym was the best I’ve ever seen Miguel. No one talked about retirement in camp. He’s in great shape and didn’t take anything lightly in camp. He’s going to go out on top and you’re going to see the best Miguel yet.”
ANDRE ROZIER, Trainer to Sadam “World Kid” Ali:
“Here we are – the work has been done. It’s been a strong, hard and diligent camp. He showed me that he wants to be that fighter that contends against a legend like Miguel Cotto, someone who is one of my favorite fighters. We are coming to entertain a crowd and come out victorious on Saturday.”
ERIC GOMEZ, President of Golden Boy Promotions:
“We are extremely excited for Saturday’s historic event at the ‘Mecca of Boxing,’ Madison Square Garden, and very happy with the response and ticket sales. The tickets are going fast, it’s going to be a big push these last final days for tickets.
“Miguel has fought at The Garden many times. This place is like a second home to him. He’s definitely going to be a hall of famer once it’s all said and done but he will have a tough test come Saturday night.
“Sadam deserves credit and recognition for doing something far too many boxers shy away from – taking on a legend in daring to be great. That is how you make a real name for yourself in boxing. You’ll never know what’s possible if you don’t try it. Greatness happens when you pursue tough challenges, win or lose.
“I’ve never seen Sadam in better shape so I know he worked hard. You cannot underestimate the power of a dream. Sadam has always dreamed at being at this stage in his career. I’ve done boxing for many years and these are the types that can be dangerous fights – anything can happen when you have a young, hungry fighter like Sadam Ali.
“This is the second fight for Golden Boy to work with Miguel Cotto. The conversation with Miguel and his team for this fight was ‘Is Golovkin available? If not, I’ll fight anybody. Just tell me the date and the weight and I’ll be there.’ That is so refreshing to hear as a promoter and that is how Miguel has been throughout his career. It goes to show that when you believe in yourself, you’ll fight anyone. Saturday will be a great celebration and it will be a special night.”
REY VARGAS, Current WBC World Super Bantamweight Champion:
“I’m happy and motivated to be part of this great fight. Miguel Cotto is a great fighter, and I’m happy to be part of this card. I’m enthusiastic for this fight because Oscar Negrete is a great fighter, and he is coming for my title.
“You will see on Saturday why I am number one and why I would like to be number one forever. I am a champion, and I will do what Cotto did in his career – I want to be number one for the people. I’m ready for Saturday, and I’m going to give it my everything.”
OSCAR “EL JAGUAR” NEGRETE, Current NABF Bantamweight Champion:
“I want to thank Golden Boy Promotions for the opportunity to fight for this title. In order to become a champion you have to take these types of fighters on. I know that Rey is a great champion, but I am at a great moment in my career, and I am here to win the title..”
CESAR GARCIA, Manager to Oscar Negrete:
“I realized early in his career that Oscar would be fighter that is able to fight for a title. I never thought it would happen as a co-main event on a great card like this one at The Garden. We are here to win and fully intend to do so.”
IGNACIO “NACHO” BERISTAIN, Trainer to Rey Vargas:
“Fighting Oscar Negrete will be a great fight. This is Rey Vargas’ second title defense and it is a great honor to be the co-main event for the card that is Miguel Cotto’s retirement fight.”
PETER NELSON, Executive Vice President of HBO Sports:
“Saturday will be Miguel’s 24th appearance on HBO. Its privilege to have Miguel on HBO for the final fight of his career. It’s been a great honor for HBO to be associated with Miguel’s career. He is a terrific ambassador for the sport.
“We wanted the best fight possible for the final fight of his career. Miguel has never walked away from a tough challenge, and Saturday night will be no different. Miguel wants to cement his legacy against a young and hungry fighter like Ali who also wants to cement his place in the sport.”
JOEL FISHER, Executive Vice President of Marquee Events:
“Saturday will be a bittersweet day for us at The Garden. We’ve have a great relationship with Miguel that dates back to 2005.
“When we first started with Miguel, his kids were little but now they are grown. He has sold more than 150,000 tickets at The Garden. Saturday will be the tenth time Miguel has fought at The Garden. Miguel is what makes The Garden what it is as the ‘Mecca of Boxing.’ It makes us happy that Miguel is going out on his own terms.”
HECTOR SOTO, Vice President of Miguel Cotto Promotions:
“This Saturday is going to be an emotional but great event. We want to thank Golden Boy Promotions their work with us to help promote Puerto Rican boxing. Thank you Miguel for giving me the opportunity to do this work. Thank you to Sadam Ali and his team for accepting this challenge. On Saturday, we will celebrate the end of a great career.”
FRANCISCO “PACO” VALCARCEL, President of the WBO:
“Thank you to HBO and Golden Boy Promotions for supporting this show. Thank you to Sadam Ali for agreeing to fight the legend Miguel Cotto. Boxing will miss Miguel Cotto but we will celebrate him on Saturday. Good luck to both fighters.”
ANGEL “TITO” ACOSTA, Junior Flyweight Contender:
“Thank you Paco Valcarcel for this opportunity to fight for a title. I know I have a tough opponent and that he is hungry and wants a world title as well. Thank you DirectTV for showing my title fight in Puerto Rico so that all my friends and family can watch it.”
RONNY RIOS, Featherweight Contender:
“This is the second chapter of my career. I’m looking to going out there on Saturday to show that I am not boring, that I am a great fighter and put on a performance for everyone.”
ZACHARY OCHOA, Super Lightweight Contender:
“Thank you to my trainer and manager for their support. It’s been a rocky year for me but that’s what life is about. On Saturday I am going to put on a great performance.”
AARON MCKENNA, Welterweight Prospect Making his Professional Debut:
“I’m really looking forward to my fight on Saturday. It’s an honor to fight and make my professional debut on such a big card.”
Cotto vs. Ali, a 12-round fight for the Cotto’s WBO World Junior Middleweight Championship, is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and Miguel Cotto Promotions. Vargas vs. Negrete is a 12-round fight for Vargas’ WBC World Super Bantamweight Title and is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and Miguel Cotto Promotions in association with Promociones del Pueblo. The event is sponsored by Tecate, “THE OFFICIAL BEER OF BOXING,” “Hennessy: Never Stop. Never Settle.”, and Casa Mexico Tequila. The event will take place Saturday, Dec. 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York City and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. The RingTV.com livestream will begin at approximately 7:00 p.m. ET/ 4:00 p.m. PT.