NEW YORK CITY — Lineal middleweight champion Miguel Cotto (39-4) returned to the ring after a year of inactivity to defend his title for the first time in facing Daniel Geale (31-3) in Brooklyn Saturday night on HBO.
Cotto (above left) made a statement by knocking Geale out with a brutal assault that ended it in four rounds after a left hook sent the Australian to the mat. Though he rose from the deck, he never recovered and a volley of punches in the corner sent Geale (above right, via) down a second time before the referee had seen enough and called it off.
Fighting at a controversial and contracted catchweight of 157 lbs. for the middleweight championship bout, the naturally larger Geale who had to boiled down drastically to make weight the afternoon before; he entered the ring at a reported 182 pounds, effectively making him a cruiserweight.
Conversely, Cotto who was heavily criticized in the lead up to the bout for exercising his star power to demand a three-pound advantage for his legitimate middleweight title, addressed the issue after the fight. When asked by HBO’s Max Kellerman if he considered himself a middleweight, Cotto said, “Do you think I’m a middleweight?” Smirking a little, he finished, “I’m not.”
Cotto tipped the scales at 153 lbs. during Friday’s weigh in, well below the catchweight and in fact even below the limit for the weight class below, junior middleweight (154 pounds).
With all the pre-fight chatter and the obvious size disparity on display between the two in the ring, one would hardly have blamed Michael Buffer for throwing up quotation fingers when he hollered out that the evenings bout was a “middleweight” fight. It appears neither of the fighters are particularly suited for the 160-pound division at this moment in their careers.
Though one might have thought the weigh-in was the main event, in fact there was a fight to be had, and Cotto came out with no music for his ring walk, signaling his focus and serious demeanor heading into the challenge.
In the 1st round Cotto showed that his left hook to the body was going to be well used, ripping it to Geale’s midsection. He continued to work in body shots throughout the early rounds.
Geale, weight-drained or not, seemed able to move and fought with energy. He landed in spots and used a shifty style to evade Cotto’s early head attack.
Cotto seemed to be the boss and looked sharp through out, stalking after Geale in spots and showing solid defensive movement and pivoting to avoid much of the bigger mans attacks.
In the 4th round, the two were enmeshed in a flurry when Cotto clipped Geale on the chin with the left hook that would effectively end the fight.
Fighting on the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, which has become a Cotto tradition, a raucous crowd of 12,157 filled the Barclays Center in Cotto’s first fight with newcomer to boxing promotion, Roc Nation.
Cotto notched his 40th win and set up a fall meeting with Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez for a likely pay-per-view big-money showdown and one of the more exciting matches that can be made between big names in all of boxing.