Jose Cotto back on track

By Raj Sharma


Jose Cotto back on track

Solo Boxeo report

Ray Alcorta's KO Productions, in association with Top Rank, returned to the Maywood Activity Center in Maywood, California last night with the latest installment of its "Champions of Tomorrow" Series. Fans in attendance and a Telefutura television audience were treated to some terrific action, as young gun Brandon Rios was severely tested by Joel Ortega while local favorite Giovanni Segura and Jose Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico continued their winning ways.

Jose Miguel Cotto, elder brother of Miguel Cotto, was coming off a ten month layoff. The unbeaten Puerto Rican had been suspended by his country's commission after failing to make weight for an IBF 130lb title elimination bout against Manuel Medina last August. Facing him in the ten-round lightweight main event was Ubaldo Hernandez of Mexico. The veteran Hernandez had pulled off an upset in his last outing by defeating 21-1 Ivan Hernandez of Colombia.

Cotto took control of the bout early, slipping the taller Hernandez's jab and scoring effectively. By the second, Hernandez was looking to time Cotto coming in but with little success. The Puerto Rican scored with a hard right hand after slipping a Hernandez jab. In the third, Cotto continued to press the action and land the better punches. His left hook is his best punch, and he was able to score with it to both head and body.

The fourth saw Hernandez begin to rally, as he landed a hard left hook to the body followed by a left uppercut. Later in the round, he scored with an effective left-right combo. The fifth round was close, as Hernandez landed the harder blows while Cotto worked more in volume. The shorter Cotto was getting the better of the action on the inside.

After Cotto outscored Hernandez to win the sixth, the ending came in the seventh. Cotto landed a hard left hook to the body that floored the Mexican. After Hernandez rose, another left hook downstairs soon floored him for the count. Cotto, who will be installed as Boxingtalk’s #12 ranked lightweight, improves to 27-0 with 19 knockouts while Hernandez dips to 20-17-2 with 10 stoppages.

Unbeaten flyweight prospect Segura, who trains out of the Azteca Gym in nearby Bell, made it an early night for himself by stopping Juan Carlos Perez of Ciudad Obregon, Mexico in the first round of a scheduled eight rounder. The switch hitting Segura worked out of the southpaw stance for much of the bout, scoring effectively with left hands to the body before landing a left to the head that floored Perez for the count. Official time was 2:33 of the first round. Segura improves to 12-0-1 with 9 KOs with the victory.

Touted prospect Rios, fighting out of the famed La Colonia Gym in Oxnard, survived an early scare to blast out the tough Joel Ortega of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico in an action packed lightweight bout scheduled for six rounds. The underdog, a hard hitting southpaw, was able to floor Rios twice in the first round after landing hard left hands to the head and following up to the body. Rios was forced to hold on in order to weather the storm, as the aggressive Ortega continued to punch in bunches. By late in the round, Rios had recovered enough to land a hard left hook and right hand that got Ortega's attention.

Rios rallied back to win a close second round, and it was Ortega who went down in the third after getting caught with a big left hook and follow up flurry. An overeager Rios hit Ortega while he was down, which led to a point deduction by referee Raul Caiz Jr. After Ortega rose, the two went toe to toe, much to the delight of the crowd.

By the fourth round, both men had slowed but Rios was the fresher of the two. He scored cleanly with a beautiful straight right hand from long range, and got the better of the inside action with some hard uppercuts. In the fifth, Rios ended the bout in dramatic fashion. He floored a fading Ortega with a big left hook-right hand combination. After the game Ortega rose, Rios landed a series of uppercuts on the inside against his hunched over opponent before knocking him down again with a left hook. Ref Caiz Jr. waved off the contest without a count. Rios improves to 9-0 with 6 KOs, while Ortega's deceiving record stands at 3-7 with 3 knockouts. More than one ringside observer praised the 19 year old Rios's heart in battling back from the adversity he encountered in the first round. The kid looked in bad shape after the second knockdown, but weathered the storm to turn things around and get the "W".

In other action, Juan Ramon Cruz stopped Benjamin Flores in the 4th round of a featherweight bout. Cruz improves to 13-1-1 with 8 KOs, while Flores drops to 11-1 with 4 wins by stoppage.

Jesus Balderas stopped Isidro Herrera at 2:28 of the first round in a junior lightweight four rounder. The hard hitting Balderas knocked Herrera down twice with right hands. After Herrera rose on unsteady legs after the second knockdown, his corner threw in the towel. Balderas is now 4-1 with all wins by stoppage while Herrera is still looking for his first win at 0-3-1.

Alfonso Rocha of Oxnard won a four round decision over Manuel Alfonso Mada of Bell in a super middleweight four rounder. It was the second bout in the last seven days for the fun to watch Rocha, whose record improves to 6-3 with 3 stoppages. Mada drops to 3-13-4 with 2 wins by KO.

Benjamin Diaz stopped Julio Vargas in the second round of a scheduled four round super middleweight rematch. Diaz had stopped Vargas in June of last year, also in the second round. The winner stays unbeaten in three pro bouts with 2 KOS, while Vargas is now 0-3.