Victory for Ali over Cotto was a case of second time lucky in world title fights after previously challenging for world honours at welterweight.
But the Puerto Rican, who won world titles in four weight categories, could not handle the quickness of 29-year-old Ali. "I want to be happy in my home and enjoy my family".
Ali now buries his March 2016 knockout defeat to Jessie Vargas, improving to 26 wins, 1 defeat, 14 knockouts, while Cotto supposedly bows out from the sport for good, with his decorated career closing with 41 wins, 6 defeats, 33 knockouts.
Taking place at the iconic Madison Square Garden, for what will be the 10th time Cotto has fought there, the Puerto Rican superstar has been reflecting on his glorious career and promised one last big performance before hanging up the gloves.
After 12 rounds the judges scored the fight 115-113, 115-113, and 116-112 to Ali.
"I already know that's gonna come", Ali said during a post-fight press conference.
"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". This is the opportunity of a lifetime in Madison Square Garden. "But this is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I took the challenge against a legend", Ali said. Ali wobbled Cotto in the 2nd with a stunning straight right but seconds later went down via a slip to kill any momentum he may have had. They could have taken an easier fight if they wanted too.
Cotto continued to apply pressure in the seventh, but said that "something happened" to his left biceps in the round.
In his 10 bout in the Garden's main arena or the smaller Theater at MSG, and 13 overall at all venues in the Big Apple, Cotto had become something akin to New York City's house fighter. Ali then turned the tables on Cotto in the 4th, landing overhand right hooks that stopped Cotto in his tracks and building his confidence. His hand speed and movement around the ring made him formidable last Saturday night. I have been training since I was eight years old, and I am glad I got this win at MSG, in my hometown. The thing is, Cotto is not the fighter he once was. 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. Yet, it was Vargas who looked the worse when they left the ring. Sadam Ali didn't read that particular script however, claiming an tight unanimous points verdict after the fight went the championship distance. Ali said. "I took advantage of this fight, and I made sure to make it count". "But I didn't want to get over myself and get caught with a shot".