By: Michael Gerard Seiler
It took a little over three years, but Miguel Cotto (37-2, 30 KO's) finally avenged his first professional loss by dominating Mexican nemesis Antonio Margarito (38-8, 27 KO's), retaining the WBA Super World Junior Middleweight title with a tenth-round stoppage in front of a sold-out, frenzied Madison Square Garden crowd.
Cotto, 31, started round one the same way he began their first encounter; moving his feet swiftly and striking Margarito with piercing, clean punches to the head. Cotto exhibited a lot of force behind his shots, leaving Margarito baffled as he stalked the Puerto Rican warrior. Margarito, 33, had a great deal of trouble coping with Cotto's skillful in and out mobility.
Cotto continued to use angles to keep Margarito off-balance in round two, and landed a crisp right cross to Margarito's head. Cotto was gliding just as quickly as in their first fight, although this time he seemed to have an added composure, alertness and focus to his game.
As Cotto carried on sticking and moving proficiently in round three, Margarito encountered a cut on the corner of his right eye, which was the very same eye Manny Pacquiao had severely damaged in the fight prior to facing Cotto. After that, Margarito immediately stepped up his aggression. From that point until the end of the round, Cotto and Margarito traded punches fearlessly at a furious pace.
Cotto comfortably found the target in round four, connecting with numerous right cross-left hook combinations. Margarito vehemently attacked Cotto's body, although Cotto was continually getting his punches off first.
Margarito closed the fifth round strong, as he landed a firm right-hand shot to Cotto's head in the last thirty seconds.
Margarito started to land some big punches in round six, but Cotto fired right back, displaying better conditioning than in their first fight.
Cotto kept illustrating terrific lateral movement, while Margarito's right eye was completely swollen shut in the seventh round.
By the eighth round, Cotto's punches revealed greater force behind them even though he was the smaller man.
During round nine, Cotto ripped off a series of left hooks, repeatedly striking Margarito in his impaired right eye. With ten seconds left in the round, Cotto snapped Margarito's head back with another devastating left hook.
After round nine concluded, ringside physician Dr. Anthony Curreri informed referee Steve Smoger to stop the fight because Margarito could not see out of his right eye anymore.
Yet, the victory over Margarito is bittersweet. On one hand, Cotto conquered the man who handed him his first professional loss in front of a large pro-Puerto Rican crowd in New York City. But, Margarito supposedly had used plaster of paris in his hand wraps during his first fight with Cotto. In spite of the previous allegations, Cotto's career has gained significant momentum again, and it may be back to where it was in 2008.
Rios Takes Out Murray
Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios (29-0-1, 22 KO's) stopped England's John Murray (31-2, 18 KO's) via TKO 11 in a fierce lightweight battle. Originally, Rios' WBA World Lightweight title was at stake, but he was stripped of his belt after failing to make the 135 lb. limit at the weigh-in Friday afternoon. The vacant title was only at stake for Murray.
Rios, 25, worked Murray's body without difficulty in the early rounds, as both fighters exchanged blow-for-blow in close quarters. Murray's punch output dipped slightly in round three, but he picked up his pace in round four, repeatedly striking Rios in the head. However, Rios began to wear Murray down in the fifth round with his high-energy level and relentless punching. By the end of round six, Murray had sustained massive swelling under both eyes, and suffered a bloody nose.
In round eight, Rios connected with a flush right-hand shot that snapped Murray's head back. By this point, Murray's punches had lost their steam, and Rios' shots were becoming much more damaging and troublesome for the Manchester fighter.
Rios continued to tire out Murray in the tenth round, simply outworking the 26-year-old with savage uppercuts to the body and head. Rios was intensely determined to end the fight, and he connected with even more uppercuts to the body and clean overhand rights in round eleven, prompting referee Earl Brown to halt the action at 2:06.
Rodriguez Batters Wolak
Delvin Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14 KO's) easily outpointed and thoroughly assaulted Pawel Wolak (29-2-1, 19 KO's) in a junior middleweight rematch by scores of 100-90, 98-92 and 98-91.
Rodriguez, 31, couldn't miss with his vicious right uppercut, cutting through Wolak's meager defense at will. Wolak, 30, did not unleash as many punches compared to his first encounter with Rodriguez, and essentially was a stationary target absorbing a tremendous beating. Rodriguez used superior lateral movement and found his range early in the fight. After that, Rodriguez, who is known to be an agonizing puncher, comfortably dismantled Wolak with an unwavering work rate of excruciating punches.
Jones Remains Unbeaten
Philadelphia welterweight contender Mike Jones (26-0, 19 KO's) remained undefeated, capturing a one-sided, twelve-round unanimous decision versus tough veteran Sebastian Lujan (38-6-2, 24 KO's) of Argentina. Jones won by scores of 118-110 and 119-109 twice on the three ringside judges' scorecards.
Jones, 28, displayed decent punching power, and was extremely poised against the wide-punching Lujan, who applied steady pressure throughout the bout, but lacked the overall skills to pull out a win.
Lujan aggressively attacked Jones' body, although Jones countered efficiently with crisp left hooks to Lujan's head in the early rounds. Jones showed tremendous balance, pounding Lujan with a precise left hook-right cross combination in round two that sent the game Argentinean into the ropes momentarily dazed.
During round four, Lujan exhibited swelling on the left side of his face. While Lujan lacked a sound defense, he continued to relentlessly charge at Jones.
In round ten, Jones struck Lujan above his left eye with a firm right-hand shot. Lujan, 31, was also stunned by a swift left uppercut in the eleventh round, and was still pushing until the final bell.