Mexico’s Antonio Margarito stopped previously unbeaten Miguel Cotto in the 11th round in Las Vegas on Saturday to claim the Puerto Rican’s World Boxing Association welterweight world title.
The Mexican, who gave up the International Boxing Federation belt to fight Cotto, sent his bloodied opponent to the canvas twice in the 11th, earning the technical knockout when Cotto’s corner threw in the towel at 2:05 of the round.
Through 10 rounds, two judges had Margarito leading 96-94, while a third judge had it even.
Cotto suffered his first defeat in 33 fights.
Margarito improved to 37-5 with 27 victories inside the distance and captured a welterweight world title for a third time.
He lost the lightly regarded World Boxing Organization title to Paul Williams last year. Then he captured the IBF belt three months ago with a dominant victory over Kermit Cintron. He vacated the IBF throne rather than make a mandatory defense against Joshua Clottey, and his decision to take on Cotto instead was rewarded.
“I told you I was a great fighter just like Cotto is a great fighter,” Margarito said. “He showed how tough he was.”
Margarito, known for his stamina and ability to take a punch, pressured Cotto early. Although the Puerto Rican repeatedly landed clean blows, he couldn’t hurt the challenger.
Cotto used his quickness in the early rounds, landing flurries before moving away from the taller fighter.
Margarito, however, stalked him relentlessly and began to wear Cotto down.
In the seventh Margarito rattled Cotto with a pair of uppercuts that left him bleeding from the nose.
He hurt the clearly tiring Cotto again in the 10th and unleashed a series of blows early in the 11th.
Cotto, against the ropes, began to bleed, and went to a knee after one conbination.
Another flurry from Margarito saw Cotto sink down again. He stood up, but as the referee administered a count Cotto’s corner threw in the towel.
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