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Miguel Cotto retains WBA super-welterweight title with 12th-round TKO of Ricardo Mayorga

Cotto knocks Mayorga down in the final round, then wins when the Nicaraguan stops fighting, citing a hand injury. The victory improves Cotto's record to 36-2 with 29 knockouts and could pave way for a rematch with Antonio Margarito.

March 12, 2011|By Lance Pugmire
  • Miguel Cotto lands a left jab to the face of Ricardo Mayorga during their WBA super-welterweight title fight Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Miguel Cotto lands a left jab to the face of Ricardo Mayorga during their… (Steve Marcus / Reuters )

Miguel Cotto hasn't enjoyed his recent late-round experiences in this town, but as he entered the 12th round against world-title challenger Ricardo Mayorga on Saturday night, Cotto achieved some measure of atonement.

Producing a spirited effort in a hard-punching battle with the ferocious Nicaraguan, Cotto unleashed a wicked left hook that first wobbled Mayorga, then sent him kneeling to the canvas.

The rattled Mayorga looked to pause the action, explaining later that a Cotto punch in the flurry caused him to feel "my thumb touch the back of my hand."

Mayorga at first looked at referee Robert Byrd for a delay, but it wasn't given and as the action shifted to a neutral corner, Cotto charged in with more blows. Mayorga leaned both arms back atop the ropes and nodded to Byrd he couldn't fight anymore.

The referee stopped the fight 53 seconds into the round, awarding Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs) a successful first defense of his World Boxing Assn. super-welterweight belt.

"I hate the way this fight ended," Mayorga said. "I tried to finish . . . but the pain in my hand was too much. I tried to close my fist but couldn't. . . . Give Cotto credit. He hits hard and is a great champion."

Cotto hasn't heard that in awhile, after suffering through a brutal 11th-round TKO loss to Antonio Margarito in 2008 here in Las Vegas, then returning to Sin City to get dismantled in 2009 by Manny Pacquiao.

Saturday's victory leaves Cotto reborn and poised to fight Margarito again July 16, either in Las Vegas or at the Meadowlands football stadium, promoter Todd duBoef said after the bout.

"I told myself, 'Be calm, be myself,'" Cotto said. "He's a very strong fighter with strong hands. Very heavy-handed, his punches hurt."

Mayorga (29-8-1), trailing 107-102 on all three judges' scorecards when the fight was stopped, landed his best blows in the fourth and seventh rounds.

The action was dominated by Cotto's ability to jab, pound Mayorga's body and land hard punches and uppercuts on the 37-year-old challenger, who earned a guaranteed $50,000 to Cotto's $1 million, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

It was unclear whether Mayorga had taken as much as $450,000 in advances before the bout, or how much was owed his promoter Don King due to a prior legal dispute over Mayorga's attempt to participate in a mixed martial arts fight last year.

What mattered most to the crowd of 7,247 was Cotto's toughness. He didn't yield in the 12th, after Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward told him Mayorga was tired and urged him to "go forward, use short punches."

"We always want the big names," Cotto said afterward, "and Margarito is one of them."

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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