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March 4, 2005
Miguel Cotto's fifth-round TKO victory over DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley last Saturday night at Bayamon's Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum will light up boxing chat rooms for months to come.
The fight was Cotto's second defense of the WBO junior welterweight title he won Sept. 11, 2004 and Corley made him work for it. Cotto (now 23-0, 19 KO) began aggressively, a tactic he has not used in previous fights as he usual starts slowly, almost tentatively in sizing up his opponent.
This time around, Cotto was on fire. The Caguas native pounded Corley with shots to the body and knocked him down 33 seconds into the first round. Corley got back up again and the two went at it. Corley slipped later in the round, but closed the round by landing two punches that stunned Cotto in the final minute.
In the second round, Cotto lost a point for an unintentional low blow and Corley snagged Cotto with a right hook to the face. In the third, Cotto looked like he was in trouble early on after Corley caught him with a right cross across Cotto's temple. The Puerto Rican fighter looked like he might go down, but he grabbed and clung to Corley until he regained some of his senses and managed to survive the round, even closing with a solid left-right combination that slowed Corley down.
In the fourth round, Corley lost a point for hitting Cotto with a low blow. Cotto regained his strength for this round and, although the two exchanged punches, Cotto had the upper hand. In the fifth, Cotto cornered Corley on the ropes and hit him with a powerful right to the face and an even harder left hook to the challenger's waistline. Corley's glove touched the canvas and referee Ismael Quinones Falu gave Corley a standing eight-count. Cotto resumed the punishment of Corley following the knockdown, cornering the Washington, D.C. native yet again. This time Corley took a knee, which prompted Quinones Falu to stop the fight with 45 seconds remaining in the round and declare Cotto the winner.
"When I saw him take a knee I told him to stand up," Quinones Falu said after the fight. "He did, but then went right back down and complained that it had been a foul. I decided he had enough."
Quinones Falu said Corley didn't complain about him having stopped the fight until his corner piped in.
"His corner complained by DeMarcus didn't complain at all immediately after the stoppage," said Quinones Falu.
Later, however, at the post-fight press conference, Corley had plenty to say.
"I'm really upset. I expected to get robbed on the street [in Puerto Rico], not in the ring," said Corley. "The ref stopped the fight for no reason. The only reason this fight was stopped was because I was in his [Cotto's] backyard. You saw how I had him in trouble in the third round but the referee didn't step in then, but he then sees me take a knee and jumps to the conclusion that I was in danger."
Puerto Rico Boxing Commission president Jose "Toto" Penagaricano defended Quinones Falu's decision saying "the health and safety of the fighters always comes first."
Cotto, meanwhile, chided Corley for making excuses.
"I'm not the referee, I have my own job to do and the referee has his own responsibility. The way I saw it, after I knocked him down in the fifth, he takes a knee and I guess the referee understood he had enough," said Cotto. "It's not the first time he comes up with excuses after a loss. When he fought Mayweather he said he had been sick prior to the fight. That's not anyone's problem, it's his problem and his team's problem. If you were sick don't take the fight and that's that. But don't make excuses."
"He [Corley] should have thought better and not taken the knee twice. That's what caused the stoppage," the champ said.
Veteran boxing fans know that a victory isn't always what it seems and this fight is destined for a rematch, which will be good for Cotto and even better for Cotto's promoter Bob Arum. Arum has a June fight date set in New York for his youngest star and has yet to find a rival. Cotto repeated on Saturday night that he'll fight whomever Top Rank puts in front of him in the ring. But don't expect Kostya Tszyu just yet
Kiplagat, Korir repeat at World's Best 10K
The last weekend of February was a busy one for sports in Puerto Rico with not only the Cotto title fight but also the World's Best 10K, one of the fastest-growing road racing events in the world.
A total of 11,660 runners participated in the 6.2-mile run over the Moscoso Bridge in San Juan, breaking all previous participatory records on the island for a sporting event. While most of the crowd walked the course, the Kenyans flew. John Korir was the fastest of foot for the second year in a row, clocking 27:56. His countrymate, Lornah Kiplagat, a nationalized Dutch citizen, also repeated her 2004 win, this time finishing the route in 32:11.
While Kiplagat finished with a 32 second lead over second-place finisher Silvia Skvortsova, of Russia (32:43), Korir was pressured during the entire race. Fellow Kenyan Wilson Kiprotich was right on his heels at the finish in 27:57, making for a close race. John Yudaw of Tanzania was the only non-Kenyan runner in the top 10. Yudaw was fourth in 28:17 behind third-place finisher Robert Cheruiyot (28:05) and Martin Lel (28:08).
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 email@example.com.
Her Column, Puerto Rico Sports Beat, appears weekly in the Puerto Rico Herald.