NEW YORK — Miguel Cotto gained his revenge over Antonio Margarito Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, inflicting enough damage to his opponent’s fragile right eye that the bout was called off on the advice of the ringside doctor at the beginning of the 10th.
Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs) effectively out-boxed Margarito (38-8, 27 KOs) over the course of nine rounds, backpedaling and nimbly avoiding his much slower opponent’s attempts to pin him on the ropes, and in the process connecting with a multitude of hard shots, including 86 that landed on Margarito’s right eye — the one which was surgically rebuilt following heavy damage inflicted by Manny Pacquiao 13 months ago.
Eventually Margarito’s eye completely closed, forcing a ringside doctor to advise referee Steve Smoger to call a halt to the fight after the bell sounded to begin the 10th round.
Cotto led 89-82 on the cards of judges Julie Lederman, Steve Weisfeld and John Poturaj at the time of the stoppage.
Margarito won the fourth round on Weisfeld’s card, the seventh on that of Poturaj, and the ninth on that of Lederman in what was a satisfying ending for the sellout crowd of mostly pro-Cotto fans.
“Dr. Jordan said that the eye was completely shut and that we couldn’t go on. Eventually, I concurred with Dr. Jordan. We were waiting a little bit based on urging of the corner wanting to continue the fight. But I prevailed,” said Smoger.
“The corner was begging for another round. Dr. Jordan said that the eye was completely shut, so he couldn’t see out, and I couldn’t see in. The corner wanted to go on, but we have a rule in the state of New York that says that if you can’t see out of the eye, you have to stop the fight.”
In victory, Cotto scored his 30th knockout, improving to 9-0 with five knockouts in New York, and, 6-0 at The Garden, also avenging his 11th-round knockout loss to Margarito, who dethroned him as WBA’s beltholder when Cotto was an unbeaten welterweight.
Cotto had insisted that he believed Margarito’s gloves were loaded with plaster when they fought the first time, after an illegal plaster like substance was discovered in Margarito’s hand wrappings and removed prior to his ninth-round knockout loss to Shane Mosley in January of 2009.
“For them [Cotto’s camp,] it was revenge. For me, it was just a good fight to make,” said Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum. “Margarito’s eye was closed. It was appropriate to stop the fight. Cotto was terrific. His training made a strong adjustment.”
In the aftermath of his victory, Cotto stared long and hard at his vanquished rival.
“I wanted to enjoy the taste of my victory,” said Cotto. “I’m just glad that this is all over and I’ve got this all behind me.”
Cotto out-landed Margarito, 210-to-157 overall, and, 148-to-131 in power punches. He landed more jabs, 62-26, than Margarito as well.
“I had no vision problems. I needed two more rounds to win the fight,” said Margarito. “I thought that I threw harder punches and I was doing fine.”
It was the third straight stoppage victory for Cotto since being dethroned via 12th round knockout loss to as WBO welterweight beltholder by RING No. 1-pound-for-pound Pacquiao.
Cotto now looks to other challenges, such 25-year-old Top Rank Inc. promotional stablemate, RING No. 5-rated middleweight and WBC beltholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (44-0-1, 31 KOs).
“I just wanted to savor my victory,” said Cotto. “I wanted to make sure that he could see that I was savoring my victory, even if he only had one eye to see it with.”
MIGUEL COTTO’S FIGHTS IN NEW YORK:
Antonio Margarito, TKO 10, Madison Square Garden, Dec. 3, 2011
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com