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Cotto To Defend WBO Junior Middleweight Title

By Gabrielle Paese

February 25, 2005
Copyright © 2005 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

WBO junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto defends his title for the second time this weekend in Bayamon versus a former WBO champ, DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley.

Corley (29-3-1, 16 KO) said he isn’t afraid of Cotto’s hard-hitting style.

"I’ve worked harder for this fight than I have for previous fights because this is for the world title," said Corley, 30. "I can’t come in half-stepping. I’ve got to be fully loaded."

Corley’s trainer, Andrew Council, estimated that Corley completed about 70 rounds of sparring for this fight. Council (31-8-3, 20 KO), a former middleweight who retired in 2003, fought the likes of Bernard Hopkins, Buddy McGirt and Winky Wright during his 13-year career.

"What we are most aware of with Miguel Cotto is his aggressiveness," said Corley. "His style is a lot of shots to the body. But I’ve watched a lot of videotape of him and I know exactly how he’s going to fight, so we’ve been able to plan our fight. I’ve got to go in there and stay alert."

Corley said he planned to take full advantage of this opportunity.

"His weakness is his strong-ness," said Corley. "Because it makes him make mistakes. I’m gonna make him make even more mistakes. He isn’t going to be prepared for me."

Corley weighed in at 142 pounds last Friday one week prior to the official weigh-in, while Cotto tipped the scale at 147.8 pounds.

"We both had our last fight at exactly the same time. He fought Dec. 11 and I fought Dec. 12," said Corley, in reference to his 10-round unanimous decision victory over Darryl Tyson. "I was back in the gym on Dec. 13 and I’ve never been over 145. When you see me fight you are going to see that I’m in excellent shape. We’ve done our training."

Corley said he was looking forward to regaining the WBO title.

"Yeah, it comes and it goes," said Corley of the championship belt. "Not to take anything away from Cotto, he’s a good fighter, but it’s going to be mine again. I’m looking forward to it."

Cotto (22-0, 18 KO) is making his second defense of the WBO junior welterweight title he won on Sept. 11, 2004 when he scored a sixth-round TKO over Brazilian Kelson Pinto, who was previously unbeaten. He finished off Randall Bailey in the sixth round of a Dec. 11 fight in his first defense.

Corley won the title Cotto, 24, now holds on June 30, 2001, with a first-round TKO of Puerto Rican Felix Flores Serrano and was a WBO champ for two years. He defended successfully twice before losing the title to Zab Judah(32-2-0, 23 KOs) in a 12-round split decision on July 12, 2003.

Cotto said he was not threatened by Corley’s confidence.

"A lot of my former opponents have fallen into this type of conduct. They’ve talked a lot of trash and then they have shown very little in the ring," said Cotto. "Everyone knows who Miguel Cotto is. The first part of my career is what brought us to earn the world title. Now is the time to defend it tooth and nail."

The main event of the Bayamon fight card Saturday night will be broadcast live on HBO's "Boxing after Dark."

The six-bout undercard will feature lightweights Zahir Raheem (25-1-0, 15KOs), a Philadelphia native who fights out of Tulsa, Okla., versus Jose "Canito" Quintana (11-5-2, 6 KOs) of Ponce at 10 rounds. The card will also feature four former Puerto Rico Olympic team fighters in four-rounders. Heavyweight Victor Bisbal (1-0) of Ponce, fights Jose Lugo (0-2) while bantamweight Juan Manuel Lopez (1-0, 1 KO) of Caguas, will take on Ivan Cordero (0-1). Flyweight Joseph Serrano will take on William Vega, both of them making their pro debuts. Carlos Valcarcel (3-0, 3 KOS) of Catano, will take on first-time pro fighter Luis Soto.

Vargas gets Big Ten gymnastics honors

Luis Felipe "Tingui" Vargas was named Big Ten men’s Gymnast of the Week after leading Penn State to an upset victory over then No. 4 Michigan last weekend.

This is the third time the junior from Puerto Rico has received the distinction. He was also honored on Feb. 2, 2005 and March 16, 2004.

Versus Michigan, Vargas took home the all-around title as well as first-place finishes in four events. The 2004 Olympian earned a 9.90 on the high bar at the meet, a career record and the second-highest mark in the school’s history. He also set personal bests on the pommel horse (9.80), rings (9.50) and vault (9.50). The defending NCAA champion won the all-around with a 56.975, currently the highest score in the United States.

Penn State, which saw its ranking jump to fourth after the victory over Michigan, will face No. 2 Ohio State this weekend at Penn State’s Rec Hall.

Vargas also has his Puerto Rican gymnastics team teammate, Tommy Ramos, for company this year. Ramos is a freshman at Penn State and already has shown his prowess. The Colegio San Antonio graduate scored a 9.65 on the rings to win that apparatus, beating out even Vargas. The score was a career high for Ramos, a gold medallist at the 2003 Pan Am Games in the high bar.

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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