Miguel Cotto’s people were not sure exactly what Antonio Margarito had done to him last July, so for his first fight back after suffering his first defeat, they fed him a boxer with a puffed up record built on the foundation of sub-superstars.
That boxer, Michael Jennings, showed a good deal of heart, and more talent than a cynic might’ve expected, but in the end, he met the expected fate. Cotto knocked him down twice in the fourth, and finished him off in the fifth, as the Brit was unable to keep the Puerto Rican at bay in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. Cotto scored a TKO win, at 2:36 of the fifth, and with the victory, the requests to meet him in New York on the Puerto Rican Day Parade Weekend will come flying into the Top Rank offices.
But is Cotto over the Margarito loss? We probably won’t know until he meets stiffer competition than the confidence builder Jennings. There was no evidence that Puerto Rican was exceedingly gun shy, as he stalked the Brit patiently, and finished off his prey with precision in front of 11,120 fight fans in New York. Jennings didn't often committ fully with his throws, as he was nervous to taste Cotto's full power. That said, he didn't disgrace himself by any means, and should continue to get work in the higher reaches of the division if he chooses.
Cotto (33-1, 27 KOs) weighed in at 146 pounds, while Jennings (34-2) weighed in a 146 ½ pounds on Friday.
In the first, Cotto took time to get loose, as Jennings moved, threw some jabs, and retreated speedily when Cotto came close. In the second, Jennings again tried to stay away from the left hook. Cotto hit with some jabs, and got warmer. But it was clear that Jennings had the basics down, under trainer Brian Hughes. In the third, Jennings kept moving smartly. But Cotto cut the distance towards the end of the third. His man moved away from the ropes, so as not to get caught, but it looked like Cotto might trap him soon. A few blows to the body stung Jennings. In the fourth, Jennings landed a right behind the ear, his best throw of the night. A left hook to the chin hurt Jennings, and he took a knee on a delayed reaction after taking a left hook to the body. He got up and a left hook sent him down again. He just made the end of the round, as he was caught in a corner, face bloody, but still answering.
In the fifth, Jennings showed pluck. He jabbed, and moved, but his legs were weaker. Cotto scored a knockdown with 35 seconds left. He got up, but the ref saw enough, and halted the scrap.
SPEEDBAG Classless mutts booed God Save the Queen during the live rendition. No excuse, people.
—Jose Torres’ family were honored before the feature bout, and Chegui, who died Jan. 19, was honored with a ten-bell salute.