Miguel Cotto refused to fall for any of Ricardo Mayorga’s antics, and he was rewarded for his focus.
Cotto retained his WBA super welterweight championship Saturday with a 12th-round technical knockout at the MGM Grand Garden after Mayorga didn’t want to continue shortly after Cotto knocked him down with a left hook.
Mayorga reportedly had dislocated his left thumb, and after nearly going down a second time, he indicated to referee Robert Byrd that he had had enough.
“It was a really good fight with an amazing finish,” said the 30-year-old Cotto, a native of Puerto Rico. “He was very heavy-handed. All night long I felt his punches.
“But the key was ignoring all of his craziness. I just concentrated on fighting my fight.”
Judges Duane Ford, Jerry Roth and Chris Wilson all had Cotto ahead 107-102 heading into the final round.
A 7-1 betting favorite at first bell, Cotto (36-2, 29 knockouts) was the fan favorite of the 7,247 in the Grand Garden. He fought a smart fight, eluding the 38-year-old Mayorga’s wild punches, blocking his in-close shots and not accommodating his taunting.
Mayorga (29-8, 23 KOs) tried to goad Cotto several times, demanding he stand and fight. But Cotto had none of it. He stayed with trainer Emanuel Steward’s game plan to stick and move, use his jab and not get hit.
“Mayorga was very determined,” Steward said. “But Miguel was beating him to the punch.”
Cotto used his superior boxing skills throughout, staying up on his toes and rarely allowing his Nicaraguan opponent to land a big clean shot.
Mayorga was predicting a knockout within four rounds. When that didn’t happen, he was forced to extend himself physically, and while he might have trained particularly hard for this fight, it was evident he didn’t have enough left toward the end.
“Before the last round, I told him Mayorga was tired and to move forward and not let him back him up,” Steward said, recalling his instructions to Cotto.
Cotto listened. He ducked a punch, hit Mayorga with a left and then a right, followed by the big left hook that dropped Mayorga early in the final round.
It looked like Mayorga would not beat the count, but he did. However, he clearly was hurt. Seconds later, Cotto hit him again with a left, and Mayorga’s thumb was throbbing.
“I felt my thumb touch the back of my hand,” he said. “I tried to finish, but the pain in my hand was too much. I tried to close my fist, but I couldn’t.”
Mayorga had taunted Cotto earlier in the week after Cotto had taken a knee in his 2008 loss to Antonio Margarito. Now, Mayorga was the one who had quit, and he wasn’t happy about doing so.
“I hate the way this fight ended,” Mayorga said. “But as a man, I have to admit when I do well and when I don’t. Give Cotto credit. He hits hard, and he’s a great champion.”
Cotto might get his chance to avenge that loss to Margarito. Top Rank is looking at a July 16 date either in Las Vegas or at New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey.
“We always want the big names,” Cotto said. “And Margarito is one of them.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.