If you thought Miguel Cotto’s year off from boxing made him less powerful, you were sadly mistaken. Cotto (40-4 33 KOs) is the only Puerto Rican fighter to win world titles in four different weight classes, and has been successful since losing back-to-back fights to Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout in 2012. Turning his career around, Cotto trained with Freddy Roach and claimed the WBC Middleweight title after knocking out Sergio Martinez in the 10th round on June 7, 2014 at Madison Square Garden.
What a difference a year makes
Cotto picked up where he left off in the main event of Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports bout last night at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Matched up against former unified WBA and IBF middleweight champion, Daniel Geale (31-4, 16 KOs), Cotto was unstoppable. Clearly faster, Cotto dominated with jab combinations and excellent footwork as Geale struggled to keep up. Cotto led 30-27 on two of the three judges’ score cards through the first three rounds and punctuated the end of the third by hitting Geale with a right that had him falling toward the ropes before the bell sounded to end the round.
“I knew after the first round I needed to get more aggressive,” Cotto later said.
Doomsday in the fourth round
Already favored -700 by online sportsbook TopBet heading into last nights bout, Cotto threw 183 total punches and landed 68 for the total fight. Smelling blood in the fourth round, he went in for the kill. Cotto knocked Geale down twice: first whacking him with a left hook to the jaw at 2:28 in the fight. Geale beat the count after referee Harvey Dock counted to eight, which allowed him to continue.
Cotto continued his all-out assault, hitting Geale with a quick right to the top of his head, with Geale again falling down. Geale again beat the count, but was noticeably shaken. Dock pulled Geale to the side and whispered something in his ear, with Geale shaking his head “no.” Dock stopped the fight with 1:28 remaining in the fourth round. It is worth noting here, that Cotto landed 17 of 34 power shots in that round.
According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, Geale was so out of it he had to ask trainer Graham Shaw after the fight how many rounds it lasted. Miguel Cotto grabbed the “W” with a TKO.
“Tonight was not my night,” Geale said after their faceoff. “It was a little bit frustrating. I thought I could of fought more, but unfortunately I got caught and that’s the way it goes. Miguel Cotto is a great champion.”
Geale, 34, is taller and bulkier than Cotto and normally fights at 160 pounds, the middleweight division limit. He was expected to meet his contract at 157 lbs., which he did at Friday’s weigh-in. It’s widely believed that performing at that weight was to his detriment, something that Geale won’t make excuses for.
“I don’t want to make excuses at all,” Geale told VIBE after the fight. “We made the weight. I didn’t feel 100% out there, but Miguel Cotto is a great champion and a great fighter. I’m not going to blame three extra pounds on what happened tonight.”
With last nights victory, Cotto recorded his 33rd knockout. It didn’t take long before the conversation shifted in the press room to an expected fight with Canelo Alvarez, perceivably the next step in Cotto’s career. “I’ve had 44 fights in my whole career,” said Cotto. “Canelo is just another one. If people want the fight, let’s do it.”
The stars were out also last night during the fight at Barclays Center. Emceed by Power 105’s Angie Martinez and DJ Lobo, Grammy nominated Roc Nation artist Big Sean rocked the Brooklyn crowd by performing “IDFWU,” “Blessings” and more. Rapper Fat Joe, boxer Bernard Hopkins, retired boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya, The View’s Rosie Perez, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, former Rutgers University defensive tackle Eric LeGrand and New York Islanders’ Matt Martin were some of the notables in attendance.
Photo Credit(s): Anthony B. Geathers, Ismail Calligrafist Sayeed