FOUR-WEIGHT global ruler Miguel Cotto captured the sixth world title of his long and illustrious career on Saturday night (August 26) by securing a comprehensive unanimous decision over the bewilderingly tough Yoshihiro Kamegai in front of a sold-out crowd of 7,689 fans at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
With the vacant WBO super-welterweight belt up for grabs in his penultimate fight, Cotto pumped out his fantastic jab in the opener, but was shown little respect by the aggressive Kamegai, who simply marched forwards and forced Cotto to manoeuvre backwards.
In the second, stinging combinations drew blood from Kamegai’s nose, and the punishment continued in the third. However, the gutsy Japanese warrior remained undeterred by the sharp shots coming his way.
Perfectly timed hooks rained in on Kamegai in the next two rounds, as Cotto befuddled his opponent with intelligent movement. In the sixth and seventh, Cotto’s punch output seemed to decrease slightly – a sign of the gruelling pace set by the relentless Kamegai – yet the Puerto Rican icon remained firmly in control.
Double jabs peppered Kamegai in rounds eight and nine, before the tempo of the battle began to finally settle down in the 10th. Flashy footwork baffled Kamegai in the 11th, and the East Asian was made to look ragged in the final frame, as Cotto drove him back with hooks.
After scores of 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110 were announced in favour of Cotto, the new champion confirmed that he would have one more bout this year, before hanging up his gloves.
“I tried to do my best, and I think I did that tonight,” said Cotto. “I am happy with my performance. Kamegai is a tough fighter. It was during round five or six that I knew he was going to make it the full 12 rounds. Come December 31, I will retire. I’ve done it all. I’m 36 going on 37, and I think I’ve come to the end of my career. I will fight once more in December. I’ll let [trainer] Freddie [Roach] tell you who I want.”
“We want the winner of Canelo [Alvarez]-‘GGG’ [Gennady Golovkin],” Roach declared.
The incredibly game Kamegai, meanwhile, was commendably graceful in defeat: “I felt so much frustration at not being able to land any of my punches. I couldn’t catch him at all. He is such a talented legend, and I am so glad I got the opportunity to fight him.”
On the undercard, Rey Vargas made a successful first defence of his WBC super-bantamweight crown. The Mexican unanimously outscored California’s Ronny Rios by tallies of 115-113 and 118-110 twice.