Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto stopped Nicaraguan challenger Ricardo Mayorga in the 12th and final round to retain his WBA super welterweight title on Saturday.
The end of the contest came when Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs), who was well ahead on the judges’ scorecards, caught Mayorga with a short left hook that sent the challenger staggering backward and down on one knee.
Mayorga beat the count, but a follow-up barrage backed him into a corner, where he draped his arms on the ropes and signaled to referee Robert Byrd that he had had enough and the official stopped the contest.
“It was a really good fight with an amazing finish,” Cotto told reporters.
“He is a very strong fighter,” he added. “He hit me with some really good shots.”
Mayorga said that during the exchange of punches that resulted in his knockdown, he took a painful blow to his left thumb.
“I felt my thumb touch the back of my hand,” he said. “I tried to finish the final round, but the pain was too much. I don’t care about my thumb. I didn’t want it to end like that. I tried to close my fist, but I couldn’t.”
Mayorga, (29-8-1, 23 KOs), a former welterweight champion, knew that his best chance of victory was to goad the more skillful Cotto into a brawl. On several occasions, he screamed at his opponent to stand and trade punches.
Cotto, however, stuck with his game plan of boxing behind a stiff left jab and left hooks, unleashing flurries and then moving out of range. By the ninth round, Mayorga’s right eye was swollen almost shut by the champion’s effective left hand.
Mayorga did have his moments, particularly in the seventh round, when he was able to catch Cotto with several hard punches that threatened to turn the momentum of the fight.
“As a man, I have to admit when I do well and when I do not do so well,” Mayorga said. “Give Cotto credit. He hits hard and is a great champion.”
WBO BURNS VS LARYEA
AP, GLASGOW, SCOTLAND
Ricky Burns of Scotland made a successful second defense of his WBO super featherweight title against Joseph Laryea after the Ghanaian retired at the end of seven punishing rounds with a hand injury on Saturday.
Laryea appeared to signal to his corner that he was in pain at Glasgow’s Braehead Arena. After an exchange, the challenger (14-5) believed he had broken a knuckle in his right hand.
“A couple of rounds before it was stopped, you could see him looking out the ring, he just didn’t want to be there and I think hurting his hand was just a wee excuse to get him out of there,” Burns said. “I had started picking up the pace for those two rounds and it got the job done. After every combination I threw, he was looking away from me and I got the impression he didn’t want to be there, so I think it was just a matter of time.”
Burns improved to 31-2 and positioned himself for a unification fight against IBF champion Mzonke Fana of South Africa.
“I was reading from his camp that they were saying all [promoter] Frank Warren has to do is get in touch with him, so fingers crossed he can get it pulled off,” Burns said. “I’m sure he would love to unify that belt and so would I.”
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