Miguel Cotto Back to Business
By Brandon Estrict at ringside for DoghouseBoxing.com (Feb 23, 2009) Photo © German Villasenor  
Before a surprisingly not near-capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden last night, the fighting pride of Caugus, Puerto Rico, former two-weight world champion Miguel Cotto, demonstrated the all-around skillset that at one point, led many to believe him to be the heir to the pound-for-pound throne as he crushed a tough, but overmatched Michael Jennings over five one-sided rounds.

Cotto, now 33-1 (27), had a huge 4th round, flooring Jennings twice with the kind of lethal body blows
he has become known for, after initially staggering him with a lethal left-hook that landed squarely and sent Jennings back into the ropes. Jennings, 34-2 (16), would manage to make it out of the round, but could not fully recover before the 5th. He came out jabbing and trying to create space in an effort to stay away from Miguel, but Cotto continued to stalk and would eventually grind Jennings down, flooring him for a third time which led referee Benji Esteves to call a halt to the bout at the 2:36 mark of the 5th with no objection from Team Jennings. Official judges scorecards saw Miguel Cotto winning all four rounds, with two extra points for the knockdowns in the fourth.

Though Jennings fought valiantly, even if at times he seemed to be on the run, final punch-stat numbers proved to be just as telling for Cotto, as he landed over half of his power shots and connected on more blows than Jennings could even get off. Cotto worked behind a hard, bone-rattling jab that seemed to shake Jennings up on a couple of occasions, and as mentioned, dusted off the ole’ signature body attack, a key facet to his game that was largely missing in his lone professional defeat, a TKO by 11 at the hands of Antonio Margarito in a bout is suddenly clouded in some controversy, as Margarito was found to possible have had plaster of paris in his handwraps before his next fight, a crushing loss at the hands of Sugar Shane Mosley, whom Cotto decisioned here at MSG in a title fight 2 ½ years ago.

Miguel, to his credit, has taken the highroad on several an occasion when asked his thoughts on his epic slugfest with Margarito, stating simply, “ Only they know the answer to that….Margarito had a better night than I did, and I’ll leave it at that.”

It is that sort of class and honesty that has earned him such a loyal nation of supporters from the Island all the way up to New York City. His performance in his first fight back since the July 2008 loss to Margarito, did not disappoint and shows that Cotto is ready to put everything behind him and continue his ascent toward the top of the sport. When asked what was next, Cotto, for the first time ever publicly, did not give his customary “I will fight whoever my promoter puts in front of me..” token answer, he instead insisted he was here to fight the best stating that if Joshua Clottey(who was in attendance), the Manny Pacquiao/Ricky Hatton winner, or Shane Mosley would all be welcome challenges, and he is prepared for whoever wants to fight.

All in all, it was a great night for boxing and for Team Cotto, as he has reestablished himself near the top of the Welterweight division, and proven he has plenty left in the tank. With Miguel Cotto back in the fold, there are now limitless possibilities and added fuel to an already stacked roster of top fighters from 147 to 154 lbs.
News and notes from preliminary bouts:

- The Garden looked to be about ¾ full for whatever reason. Still, Cotto got a monstrous reception and the whole atmosphere was awesome.

- There were actually quite a few Jennings supporters who made the trip over from the UK. Not nearly enough to make a dent in Miguel Square Garden, but they were good fans with good knowledge of the sport. So good in fact, they all pretty much told me that Jennings was tough, but didn’t have a shot against Cotto.

- Aside from the main event, the 6th and final round of a Super Bantamweight bout between Lante Addy of Los Angeles, CA and Jorge Diaz of Jersey City, NJ stole the show. Not everyone in the audience had arrived at that point, but those who were there were on their feet for the entire three minutes as both men basically stood toe-to-toe and traded shots the entire time with Diaz playing to the crowd, it was awesome. Diaze got the UD and improves to 8-0 (5).

- Popular women’s WBA Superfeatherweight Champion, and the woman who sparred with Hilary Swank to prepare her for the film, Million Dollar Baby, Maureen Shea of the Bronx, NY, was actually stopped about 2:30 into the 10th and final round by Australian-based Peruvian, Kina Malpartida, who improved to 9-3(2). The audience was stunned and Shea was very emotional afterwards, she suffers her first pro loss in 14 bouts.

- No one was really into the Matt Vanda – John Duddy fight after a few rounds and the boos rang loud and clear. In the 7th, attention shifted from the bout to a brawl near the South Press Box that took several minutes to situate. A few drunk Duddy fans apparently got into something and put on a hell of a show before being ejected from the building. Vanda almost stopped Duddy in the 10th as well.

- Last but not least, I’ve gotta send a shout-out to Rob Scott of DHB for helping me out a little earlier in the night. If you’re reading this bro, I let him know as soon as I touched down in NJ.

Send all thoughts and comments to Brandon at BEstrict@hotmail.com, or Myspace.com/BEstrictboxing

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