CARSON, Ca.-Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto wrenched the vacant WBO super welterweight title with a dominating performance against Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai to win by unanimous decision in a punch frenzy on Saturday.
Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) gave the more than 7,689 fans at StubHub a prime example of why many experts feel he will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. It was sterling performance.
Despite more than two years off, Cotto shed off any sluggishness but not before Kamegai (27-4-2, 24 KOs) helped him with two blistering rounds of exchanges.
But after those two rounds, Cotto got a sense of what the Japanese warrior was trying to do and seldom allowed Kamegai to land more than two punches at a time.
Throughout the fight Cotto connected with hair tossing blows on Kamegai who simply shrugged them and returned to battle. It was a scene repeated for 12 rounds in the fight for the vacant world title.
Cotto absorbed some punishment early and shots here and there but was always in control and kept Kamegai at a distance whenever possible
If the Japanese fighter expected to entice Cotto into a toe-to-toe war as he did with Jesus Soto Karass in two previous fights, that was not going to happen with Cotto. He pivoted and turned away from the charging Japanese fighter with ease like a matador.
Kamegai had his moments especially in the opening round and in the ninth round when he landed a three-punch combination, but often he was unable to land more than a single shot.
After 12 rounds all three judges favored Cotto 120-108, 118-110, 119-109.
“I tried to do my best here and I’m happy with my performance,” said Cotto, 36. “He’s a tough fighter a tough opponent. Round five or six I knew I was not going to hurt him.”
Now Cotto has retirement on his mind, but he plans to have one more fight before December.
“I’m 36 already I think it’s enough boxing in the ring. I’ve done too much in my career,” Cotto said after the fight. “One more in December and that will be all.”
Cotto’s trainer Freddie Roach said he would like it to be “the winner of the Triple G and Canelo fight.”
Vargas Keeps Title
WBC super bantamweight titlist Rey Vargas (30-0, 22 KOs) walked into the arena virtually unknown to fans and Santa Ana’s Ronny Rios (28-2, 13 KOs) but walked out of the arena with his belt intact in a back and forth fight over 12 rounds.
The extremely tall for 122-pounds Vargas opened up the fight with sizzling combinations that forced Rios to take shelter in the first two rounds. But things turned around when Rios connected in the third with a thudding left hook to the body that had Vargas looking for cover.
Rios suddenly became the aggressor from the third round on but was not busy enough against Vargas who fired from long range.
Though Vargas kept his distance, especially in the second half of the fight, he never allowed Rios to get comfortable. And despite landing the harder shots in the second half of the fight, Rios never could sustain an attack to convince the judges he was the winner after 12 rounds.
Two judges scored it a rather wide 118-110 for Vargas and the other a more reasonable 115-113 for the fighter from Mexico City.
It was a fight that when Rios watches in a few days he will realize he could have done more.
Joet Gonzalez (18-0, 9 KOs) continued his unbeaten streak with a convincing win over Colombia’s Deivis Julio (19-3, 11 KOs) that ended by knockout in the fifth round. Glendora’s Gonzalez was very strategic and relentless in his attack against the southpaw Julio. Once he discovered the effectiveness of his lead right cross it was all over for Julio. A crisp right lead at the beginning of the fifth round floored Julio who went down in sections. The Colombian beat the count but was pursued by Gonzalez who continued to strategically connect with rights through Julio’s guard. A volley of four blows by Gonzalez forced referee Jack Reiss to halt the featherweight clash at 2:57 of the round.
Emilio Sanchez (16-0, 11 KOs) exploded in the first round with several banging combinations against Mexico City’s Danny Flores (11-9-1) but midway through the opening round, the Pacoima fighter settled into a more conservative rhythm. Both engaged freely for the next three rounds with Sanchez maintaining a slight edge. But several quick combinations by Sanchez connected and had Flores reeling. Referee Gerard White stopped the fight at 33 seconds of the fifth round. Though the crowd booed the stoppage, Flores staggered a bit soon after.
Tenochtitlan “Techno” Nava (7-0, 1 KO) floored Angel Aguilar (8-14) in the first round and then found it a little tougher from that point forward. Both engaged inside with Nava always punching a little bit more. All three judges scored it 39-37 for Nava.
Alexis Rocha (9-0, 6 KOs) needed little time to find a place for his right hook and win by first round knockout versus Esau Herrera (19-10-1) of Mexico. Rocha, a super welterweight, is the younger brother of Ronny Rios and both fight out of Santa Ana, Calif.
San Diego’s Genaro Gamez (6-0, 4 KOs) won a tight contest against Rafael Reyes (7-11) of Mexico by decision after six super lightweight rounds.
Photo credit: Al Applerose
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