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Cotto Impressive In 1st WBO Title Defense, Other Notes

By Gabrielle Paese

December 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

If there were any fight fans doubting that World Boxing Organization junior middleweight champ Miguel Cotto was a knockout puncher, the Caguas native laid those fears to rest Saturday night in Las Vegas when he gave former two-time champ Randall Bailey a pummeling that ended the fight at 1:39 of the sixth round.

Cotto sized up his opponent in the first round and Bailey connected with a right that got things started. In the second round, Cotto gave his fans a demonstration of how hard he has been working on his right, as he sent Bailey to the canvas for the first time of the fight with his right hand. Cotto began to get in solid body and head shots during the third round and Bailey could not contest them. Bailey stumbled, kneeling with one knee on the canvas. In the fourth, Bailey started to back up instead of moving forward. Cotto continued his assault and opened up a cut on Bailey’s left cheek. Cotto hit Bailey with a flurry of punches in the fifth and in the sixth, Cotto opened another cut over Bailey’s right eye. Referee Norm Budden called the fight at that point.

This was Cotto’s second straight TKO in the sixth round, having handed Brazil’s Kelson Pinto a similar fate in the sixth of their fight back in September for the WBO crown.

Compubox, that scientific punch-counter that the sport relies on as the definitive authority on hits, scored Cotto with 104 punches connected and Bailey with just 14. Similarly, Compubox scored Cotto with 79 power punches to Bailey’s 12.

"This is what we worked for over the past three and a half years," Cotto told the media after the fight. "We said from the beginning that we were well prepared for this fight and that there was no way we were going to lose. The corner made the suggestions and everything went as planned."

Cotto said the advice he got from his corner was to keep hitting Bailey hard, because Bailey was having a hard time seeing over the cut.

Cotto also said he followed instructions from his uncle and trainer, Evangelista Cotto, to wear Bailey down with body shots.

"We’ve known from his fight with Diobelys Hurtado that he would weaken if he took a lot of hits to the body, so that was something I was instructed to do," said Cotto, who is now 22-0, 18 KO. "The win sends a message to anyone who wants to hear it. Now they can take me as seriously as they want to. They’re going to have to respect me."

While Cotto does not yet officially have a date or an opponent for his next fight, Best Boxing’s Peter Rivera, who works with Top Rank and the Cottos, revealed that a date between February and March has been temporarily set aside with DeMarcus Corley being discussed as a potential rival. Cotto had been originally scheduled to fight Corley instead of Bailey, but the matchup failed to progress as the two sides couldn’t agree on economic terms.

In other boxing news, WBO 108-pound champ Nelson Dieppa is scheduled to fight former champ Alex "Nene" Sanchez Jan. 29 at Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum in Bayamon.

"It ain’t over, ‘til it’s over"

Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are now 1-1 in Winter League interleague All-Star play after the Dominicans scored a 6-5 win over Puerto Rico’s All-Stars last Sunday before some 10,000 fans at Quisqueya Stadium in Santo Domingo. The game was decided in the bottom of the 10th on a Pablo Ozuna single as the Dominicans faced a moment of truth with no pitching staff left and a potential 11th inning to play. The moral of the game: Never give up.

Pablo Ozuna provided the offense for the Dominicans as he tripled in the bottom of the ninth with Puerto Rico leading 5-3 to knock in two runs and tie the score. With the bases loaded and Ozuna at bat again in the bottom of the 10th, the Dominicans weren’t anticipating victory. They were worrying about who they would send to the mound in the event of an 11th inning because they had already used their entire All-Star bullpen.

"They wanted to leave the game tied because they didn’t have any more pitchers," said David Rosario, of Puerto Rico’s Player’s Union. "We didn’t accept that option. They had a pitcher who was not on the roster and they were going to put him in uniform. Although we would have liked to have won the game, Ozuna’s hit solved the problem in a spectacular way."

For Puerto Rico, Carolina’s Edgar Clemente hit a triple and a home run while Carlos Rivera and Luis Lopez also knocked the ball out of the park for the visiting team.

In other baseball news, Javier Valentin, who was playing for Mayaguez in the Winter League, was traded to Manati to join his brother, Manati owner Jose "Tony" Valentin, this week. The move was part of a three-way trade that also sent Santurce’s Ramon Castro to Mayaguez.

Gabrielle Paese is a sports reporter in San Juan. She was the 2000 recipient of the Overseas Press Club's Rafael Pont Flores Award for excellence in sports reporting. Comments or suggestions? Contact Gabrielle at

Her Column, Puerto Rico Sports Beat, appears weekly in the Puerto Rico Herald.

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