Cotto edges Mosley to take thriller in battle of wills

By George Kimball @Ringside


Cotto edges Mosley to take thriller in battle of wills

NEW YORK --- We’d describe Saturday night’s action at Madison Square Garden as “fast and furious,” but we’re afraid the movie people might sue us, too. In a fight that didn’t follow its script but lived up to expectations for sheer drama, Miguel Cotto held off Shane Mosley’s late charge to post a unanimous decision and retain his WBA welterweight title.

What was supposed to be a test of Cotto’s power versus Sugar Shane’s speed turned out to be a battle of wills, and after they had gone at it for twelve rounds, each man had landed precisely the same number of punches – 248 – as the other.

In the end what probably carried the day for Cotto was his jab, a punch that figured to be Mosley’s weapon of choice. Not only did the Puerto Rican champion land more of them – 98 to Mosley’s 71 – but Cotto was throwing his left like he meant it, with real malevolence.

The other big question going in – whether Cotto, who had been wobbled by several opponents who lacked Mosley’s finishing skills, could survive if Sugar Shane managed to put him on Queer Street – was rendered moot. Although Mosley was able to land some good body shots, uppercuts, and right-hand leads over the last half of the fight, none of them did enough damage to put Cotto’s chin to the test.

“He had a lot of stamina,” said Cotto afterward, “but he never hurt me.”

Cotto’s stinging jab had raised a huge welt on Mosley’s cheekbone before the second round was out, and cutman Jimmy Glenn was kept busy between rounds applying an Endswell. Cotto wasn’t marked until the final round, when an accidentally clash of heads brought blood streaming from a cut along his right eyebrow – and a quick apology from Mosley.

Cotto, who was headlining for the fourth time in two and a half years at the Mecca of Boxing, enjoyed the support of most of the 15,251 in attendance, but as the bout went into the championship rounds, rival chants of “Mos-ley!” picked up around the arena.

As Mosley had driven Cotto into his own corner in the tenth round he appeared to slip on the canvas, the residue of ice used by the champion’s seconds. Referee Benjy Esteves called time and ordered the surface mopped up, but then in the 12th, as Mosely was chasing Cotto around the ring, he got him to the same spot when he landed a left-right combination only to land flat on his backside when his feet went out from under him on the slippery ring mat.

After five rounds, Cotto had led on two cards and trailed on that of judge Wynn Kintz, but Kintz almost perversely didn’t score another round for Mosely until the last.

The three judges came up with remarkably similar totals – Kintz had it 116-113, while Glenn Feldman and Peter Trematerra scored it 115-113, Boxing Talk – but they arrived there by decidedly dissimilar means.

Feldman, for instance, had the fight dead even after ten rounds, but gave Cotto the final two stanzas (including the 12th, during most of which Cotto was in headlong flight), while Trematerra had Cotto miles ahead before awarding the last three rounds to Mosley. The apparent discrepancies speaks less to inconsistency on the part of the tribunal than the fact that so many rounds were very close.

What most seemed to agree on in the end was that, all other factors being virtually even, Cotto’s output included more hard, punishing punches than did Mosley’s. And while many of his supporters were disappointed, Sugar Shane did not appear to dispute the verdict, as he congratulated Cotto as “a young lion on the way to greatness,” and on his way out of the ring told Cotto “Good luck, Champ.”

“We both did our best. We both gave it our all,” said Cotto afterward. “I had trained back in Puerto Rico expecting to see speed and movement and power from Mosley, and he gave me all three.”

“It was a great fight, and Miguel is very strong,” said Mosley afterward. “He was not only powerful, with pressure, but he can also box. And he kept fighting back.”

For Cotto, now 31-0, it was the third straight defense of his welterweight championship, and he seemed to state the obvious when he said he was more comfortable at the weight than he had been in his 140-pound days. It was only Mosley’s second welterweight fight in the past five years; Shane had abandoned the division following his back-to-back losses to Vernon Forrest in 2002.

Mosley fell to 44-5 with the loss, but Cotto joined Forrest and Winky Wright (two wins apiece) in becoming only the third man to defeat Sugar Shane.

The future is bright for Cotto, who may have his choice of several lucrative opponents, including Saturday night’s co-promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, if not Floyd Mayweather Jr., once he disposes of Ricky Hatton.

“I’ll fight whoever the company tells me to fight,” said Cotto, who presumably was referring to Top Rank and not the CIA.

Mosley’s future is less clear.

“Maybe I’ll put my promoter’s hat on,” said the 36 year-old veteran. “I’m not getting any younger.”

Former WBO champion Antonio Margarito simply overwhelmed San Antonio veteran Golden Johnson, dropping him twice in the first round to score a quick TKO in their co-featured b out. Margarito (35-5) put Johnson down the first time with two solid left hooks followed by a right uppercut, and then spent the next minute and a half trying to close the deal before he caught up with Johnson late in the round. A left to the body followed by a left uppercut left Johnson writhing on the floor, and referee Wayne Kelly waved it off without a count at 2:38 of the round.

“In the Paul Williams fight I started too slow,” said Margarito. “This time I wanted to start fast, and I wanted to start strong. This proves who I am.”

Margarito said he wanted – actually, the word he used was “demanded” – to fight either Cotto or the Mayweather-Hatton winner next. He may have to stand in line for either, particularly if they wind up facing one another in New York next June.

It was probably the end of the line as a useful contender for Johnson, now 25-8-3.  

It’s difficult to know whether 36 year-old Joel Casamayor has gotten really old since his last fight (a win over the late Diego Corrales) or whether to attribute it to ring rust from the 13-month layorr, but the Cuban veteran turned in a disappointing performance in his Golden Boy debut, and barely edged opponent Jose Armando Santa Cruz with the narrowest of split decisions to hang onto his interim WBC lightweight title.
Casamayor unexpectedly found himself on the deck in the first round when he lost his footing after a Santa Cruz counter left, and fought rather listlessly for the next several rounds. With Santa Cruz pressing the action, Casamayor was running when he wasn’t holding, and the Mexican appeared to have built up a solid lead.

Although Casamayor (in his first fight back with Joe Goossen as trainer) came on over the last few rounds, out scorecard still had him trailing 115-112 after twelve rounds. One judge, Tony Paolillo, also saw it for Santa Cruz, 114-113, but two others, Frank Lombardi and Ron McNair, had Casamayor up by the same margin. If nothing else, the razor-thin victory spared Ring editor Nigel Collins the embarrassment of presenting the magazine’s “world title” belt to yet another “champion” who wasn’t recognized by any other organization.

Casamayor improved to 35-3-1 with his narrow escape, while Santa Cruz is now 25-3.

Twenty year-old California welterweight Victor Ortiz had opened the televised portion of the card impressively, scoring a one-punch, first-round knockout over former WBA champion Carlos Maussa (19-5) of Colombia. Ortiz (20-1-1) followed a missed right uppercut with a sweeping left that flattened the veteran. Maussa floundered about on the deck as he was counteed out by referee Johnny Callas.

Mosley protÈgÈ Billy Dib won his 17th without a loss, posting a unanimous decision over Tanzanian veteran Rogers Mtagwa (22-12-2). John McKaie scored it a 80-72 shutout for the Boy Wonder From Down Under, while Steve Weisfeld and Kevin Morgan scored it 79-73.

In another early bout, Bronx junior middle Ronny Vargas improved to 4-0 with a second-round TKO of Bryan Mullis (4-2-1) when Callas rescued the North Carolina opponent 50 seconds into the round.

Schenectady welterweight Michael Faragon and Newark junior middle Michael Anderson both made successful pro debut. Faragon outpointed Javier Garcia, with all three judges – Weisfeld, Morgan, and Luis Rivera – returning identical 39-37 scorecards, while Anderson won a unanimous decision over Olade (One Shot) Thomas (1-3). McKaie had Anderson up 40-36, while Morgan and Rivera both had it 39-37.

Puerto Rican junior featherweight Jesus Rojas (10-0) scored a sixth-round TKO of Carlos Diaz. Referee Sammy Viruet rescued Diaz at 2:12 of the round.

* * *

Nov. 10, 2007

WELTERWEIGHTS: Miguel Cotto, 146 1/4, Caguas, Puerto Rico dec. Shane Mosley,146 1/4, Pomona, Calif. (12) (Retains WBA title)

Antonio Margarito, 146 1/4, Tijuana, Mexico TKO’d Golden Johnson, 147, San Antonio (1)

Victor Ortiz, 141 1/2, Oxnard, Calif. KO’d Carlos Maussa, 141 1/2, Monteria, Colombia (1)

LIGHTWEIGHTS: Joel Casamayor, 134, Guantanamo, Cuba dec. Jose Armando Santa Cruz, 134 3/4, Michoacan, Mexico (12) (Retains WBC interim title)

JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Ronny Vargas, 253, Bronx, NY TKO’d Bryan Mullis, 150 3/4, Mount Holly, NC (2)

Michael Anderson, 147, Newark, N.J. dec. Olade Thomas, 150, Georgetown, Guyana (4)

JUNIOR WELTERS: Michael Faragon, 136 3/4, Schenectady, NY dec. Javier Garcia, 136 3/4, Caguas, Puerto Rico (4)

JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHTS: Billy Dib, 128, Hurtsville, NSW, Australia dec. Rogers Mtagwa, 127 1/2, Dodoma, Tanzania (8)

JUNIOR FEATHERWEIGHTS: Jesus Rojas, 122, Caguas, Puerto Rico TKO’d Carlos Diaz, 122, Dorado, Puerto Rico (6)

Editors Note: In the words of Lauryn Hill, Karma, Karma, Karma comes back to you hard!


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