NEW YORK (AP) – This was not the way Miguel Cotto planned to leave boxing.

Saddam Ali ruined the party in Cotto's garden on Saturday night, saying goodbye to the Puerto Rican star with a 12-round defeat by unanimous decision. It was a confrontation between a Brooklyn resident and an adopted New Yorker, and it has the swing of the building.

Cotto, 37, simply could not handle the speed of his younger opponent, who took the WBO junior middleweight belt. Ali did it despite being the least popular fighter just miles from his city; Cotto has turned MSG into a second home, but dropped to 8-2 in the arena.

"I hurt him here or there in the first two rounds," Ali said. "I knew I had to do something, or he would have dug."

Cotto ends 41-6, and he seemed to be too old. He injured his left arm in the seventh round after losing by scores of 115-113, 115-113 and 116-112.

"It feels good with performance," said Cotto. "Something happened to my left biceps … I do not want to make excuses, Saddam won the fight It's my last fight I'm fine, and I want to be happy in my house with my family" [19659006] Many of the 12,371 fans booed decision and again when Ali spoke in the ring.

"I worked hard for it," said Ali, 29. "I took advantage of this fight and made sure to count, I want to thank the Cotto team, they could have had an easier fight if they wanted to."

Fans soon applauded when Cotto made his final statements to his legion of fans.

"Thank you all," said Cotto in English. Usually, answer questions in Spanish.

"Thanks to all the fans, I'm proud to call MSG my second home, I had the opportunity to bring the best out to my family for the sport"

Cotto had received a thunderous ovation when he entered the ring, and they were singing his name as he left, proud but defeated.

Ali is 26-1. He started quickly, then was surprised by a great right by Cotto that left him reeling. Cotto charged when Ali recovered on the ropes, but it seemed that the fight had changed.

It was not like that. In fact, Ali won the last four rounds in the three judges' cards.

Ali lost her title fight to Jessie Vargas in 2016 when she was stopped in the ninth round in a welterweight bout.

Now, it becomes a force in this division. The speed of his hand and his movement around the ring made it formidable on Saturday night.

"Good things happen to good people," Ali said. "I've been training since I was 8 years old, and I'm happy to have won this victory at MSG, in my hometown."

Cotto, meanwhile, leaves boxing with a legacy that can not be marred by this loss.

Holder of six belts in four weight categories in his distinguished career, and the only boxer on the Caribbean island rich in traditions that owns four of those titles, he retires with a reputation as one of the most daring and elegant fighters in his time. Of course, he lost a handful of other fights, but they were against such an important competition as Canelo Alvarez, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. One thing was true for the customers who paid: Cotto would offer a good show.

He did it in his farewell, too. Ali just as good.

On the HBO undercard, Rey Vargas beat Oscar Negrete in a 12-round fumble in which the champion was left with a bloated and bloody face on the head.

Still, Vargas won the undefeated battle to hold on to his WBC super bantamweight title.

Vargas easily won all judges' scorecards, using a significant reach advantage for the scores of 119-109, 119-109 and 120-108. The Mexican champion improved to 31-0, while Negrete, of Colombia, lost for the first time in 18 bouts.

"It was really hard to find my rhythm," admitted Vargas.

No wonder: the unorthodox rainfall of Negrete Vargas, 27, also received dozens of blows to the body and rarely allowed Negrete, 30, to enter. However, it was Vargas who looked worse when they left the ring.

"I have the humility to say that I made my share of mistakes," Vargas said, "but I think Negrete fought very dirty, and he was not a very good boxer."

Previously, Angel Acosta dominated Juan Alejo before of knocking him out in the tenth round for the WBO junior flyweight crown that Japanese Kosei Tanaka vacated Friday. Acosta, 27, of Puerto Rico, has a 17-1 record – the only loss was by Tanaka's decision in May – and all his victories have been by knockout.

Acosta made Alejo, 33, of Mexico, in trouble throughout the subsequent rounds. He landed a sharp combination from right to left to end the fight.

"It took me five years to get here, and I appreciate this moment for myself and for Puerto Rico," Acosta said. "I've learned a lot since my last fight for a world title against Tanaka, and this fight shows that I learned and fixed everything I needed to win a world championship."

Alejo is 25-5-1 and has lost both of his shots in a world title. He was defeated by Donnie Nietes for the WBO championship in October 2015.

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