Mike Coppinger

Cotto finally puts 2008 in the past

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NEW YORK — Miguel Cotto slowly walked over to the opposing corner and blankly stared at his beaten foe, slumped over on his stool.

Putting an end to this chapter of one of the most bitter feuds in recent memory, Cotto had exacted sweet revenge on Antonio Margarito. He avenged his stoppage loss from 2008 – a bout Cotto believes was not on a level playing field – defeating his rival soundly and conclusively.

The victory is the defining moment of the Puerto Rican’s career to date.

He employed a smarter gameplan this time around. Cotto was keen on staying off the ropes, using lateral movement to bounce away from Margarito’s wild, arcing power shots. Cotto snuck in left hooks time and time again – 86 in all on Margarito’s surgically repaired right eye (a souvenir from his fight with Manny Pacquiao) – closing the eye and causing the stoppage at the beginning of round 10. Margarito received 12 stitches to close the wound preceding the post-fight press conference.

But make no mistake, this was a competitive fight. Margarito was happy to eat four punches to land two, but made those punches count, landing hard to the body and exerting pressure on Cotto. No matter how much punishment Cotto inflicted, Margarito’s will never wavered, as he effectively cut off the ring, attempting to pin Cotto in the corner.

When the fight was stopped on the advice of the doctors at ringside, Margarito could be heard pleading “Noooooooo”. He begged for just one more round, knowing that he was coming on and that the gameplan all along was to take Cotto out late.

“I had no vision problems, but I needed a couple more rounds to beat this guy. The punches didn’t hurt me, the swelling just got worse and worse though,” Margarito said through his translator and trainer Robert Garcia. “My eye was worse when I fought (Manny) Pacquiao. I responded correctly to the doctor. I asked for at least one more round, but they wouldn’t give it to me.

“I felt like this was a continuation of the first fight. He was holding and I was landing the punches. I just wanted one more round.”

Cotto savored the victory, the gorilla of 2008′s loss finally off his back. Known as a classy fighter, his stare-down of the defeated Mexican was uncharacteristic.

“I wanted to taste my victory,” said Cotto. “He means nothing to me. He’s still a very strong fighter, but I am way better than he is. I am very happy to finally get it over with. I did my work. I won the fight.”

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