Miguel Cotto was in pure predator mode, bringing his hellacious left hook from 2007 back, and using it to smash Delvin Rodriguez in the main event at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on Saturday night, and on HBO.
Cotto, coming off back to back losses, to Floyd Mayweather and then Austin Trout, which had him if only briefly consider retirement, needed to get past the solid journeyman Rodriguez, or the retirement issue would loom that much larger. That he did; in the first he started with hooks to the body, and he didn't let up. He had Del buzzed to end the second, and a left hook finished Del in round three.
The end came at 2:42 of the third, with ref Frank Santore deeming Del done. Cotto outlanded Del 55-16, according to CompuBox.
Cotto trapped Del on the ropes, landed a left hook as Del tried his own, another left hook and a right follow, and sent him crashing to the mat. The ref didn't even count, and protested mildly to the ref, but he went to his stool wobbly. "Cotto was beating the hell out him," said HBO's Max Kellerman.
After, Cotto said to Max he was happy to be back to basics, aggressive and sharp. Trainer Freddie Roach said the camp was stellar, and "we're going to have a lot of big fights after this." Top shelf guys? "Yeah, line them up," Roach said.
Cotto, age 32, from Puerto Rico, was 153.2 on Friday, while the Dominican-born Del, age 33, living in Danbury, CT, was 154. Cotto was cornered by Roach for the first time, for the record. Del is helmed by Fernely Feliz.
In the first, Cotto ripped a left hook on Del, who wanted to peck and slide. The Cotto left hook, like sexy, was back, in round one. Roach called the first "beautiful" after the round. In the second, Cotto's right landed early. Del hadn't yet landed on Cotto enough to put him off. Del got buzzed at the end of the round, off a right hand-left hook follow.
Roy Jones said Cotto is good to go against a Sergio Martinez, or a Canelo Alvarez, right away.
Rodriguez' manager AJ Galante told TSS he thought the ref didn't give Del a chance to come back, but "I don't think it would have mattered, honestly. It hurts...but it is what it is." And will Rodriguez continue in this most dangerous game? "I'll talk to him when we get home," Galante said.
In the third, Cotto sent him down and the fight was halted, via TKO. I dare say the masses didn't think they'd see such a version of Cotto, who looked energized, predatory, and hook-crazy. It was arguably enough to erase the rotten egg stink from the Wladimir and Crawford fights...
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV