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Miguel Cotto batters Antonio Margarito in nine rounds

Puerto Rican wins junior-middleweight title bout with a technical knockout. Oxnard's Brandon Rios overwhelms Englishman John Murray by 11th-round technical knockout/

December 03, 2011|By Lance Pugmire
  • Miguel Cotto lands a hard right to the face of Antonio Margarito during their WBA junior-middleweight championship bout on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York. Cotto, the defending champion, won by a ninth round technical knockout.
Miguel Cotto lands a hard right to the face of Antonio Margarito during their… (Al Bello / Getty Images )

Reporting from New York -- Miguel Cotto got his revenge against Antonio Margarito on Saturday, belting his bitter rival throughout nine rounds until a ringside doctor ruled that the wounded Tijuana fighter could no longer continue.

The clearly crisper Cotto (37-2, 30 knockouts) repeatedly got the best of Margarito by smashing him with jabs, straight rights and sturdy lefts.

By the seventh round, Margarito's previously injured right eye was closed, and an extra ringside doctor began watching the eye closely.

In May, Margarito (38-8) underwent cataract-removal surgery in Utah after a bad beating and broken orbital bone handed him by Manny Pacquiao in November 2010.

The New York State Athletic Commission almost rejected Margarito's bid for a boxing license late last month because of questions about the eye, and it then summoned an eye specialist, Dr. Anthony Curreri, to serve as a second ringside physician Saturday.

With the eye closed, Curreri shined a bright light on Margarito's eye before the ninth round and let the bout resume after a brief delay.

After a ninth round in which Cotto continued to beat on the eye, the primary ringside physician, Dr. Barry Jordan, ruled Margarito couldn't see out of the eye and told referee Steve Smoger to stop the fight despite the objections of Margarito and his corner men.

"The eye was completely shut," Smoger said. "He couldn't see out and I couldn't see in. We have a rule in New York that if you can't see out of an eye, we have to stop the fight."

Margarito, who tried to beat up Cotto with an inside fighting style to set up bigger blows with the right hand that propelled him to a 2008 upset of the previously unbeaten Puerto Rican, said afterward he had "no vision problems."

"I needed two more rounds to win the fight," Margarito said. "I thought I threw harder punches, was doing fine."

Instead, Cotto celebrated a redemptive victory after questioning whether Margarito fought their first bout with the same plaster-loaded hand wraps that were confiscated before his January 2009 loss to Shane Mosley.

Training this time under Cuban boxing trainer Pedro Diaz, Cotto produced an energetic, determined effort that kept him continually pressuring Margarito and landing the harder punches in the biggest exchanges.

"I am very happy and very proud of what I did tonight," Cotto said. "The strategy worked. Margarito's a very strong puncher, but I'm way better.

Asked in the ring if Margarito's punches were as hard as in 2008, Cotto enthused the sellout crowd of 21,239 by answering that, no, they were softer.

"I felt extra motivation. I was vindicated," Cotto said. "You can see my face now and how I got out of the ring in 2008. Draw your own conclusions."

Fight promoter Bob Arum described Cotto's effort as "brilliant … he fought like a human," meaning he battled with raw emotion that contrasts his usual stoic demeanor.

Arum added Cotto might next fight middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., but Floyd Mayweather Jr. also is a possibility.

Earlier, Oxnard's Brandon Rios didn't want to surrender his world lightweight belt on the scale, or give up $20,000, either, but he at least leaves town with a win.

Rios, a day removed from being sick and gaunt while failing to make the 135-pound lightweight limit, overcame a slow start to overwhelm Englishman John Murray by 11th-round technical knockout.

Rios (29-0-1, 21 knockouts) battered Murray (31-2) with hard uppercuts in the 11th, backing the Brit to the ropes and surging to deliver more punishment when referee Earl Brown stopped the fight at the 2:06 mark.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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