1. SERGIO MARTINEZ
The Puerto Rican promised the upset when he challenged WBC middleweight king, and undisputed division leader, Sergio Martinez in June 2014. Few believed him. The ageing Cotto was chasing a title in a weight class for which he was deemed too small, against an opponent presumed too big. But the veteran, under the watchful eyes of new trainer Freddie Roach, made a mockery of the consensus, and battered Martinez into defeat in 10 rounds.
2. ANTONIO MARGARITO II
Blood and controversy blotted Antonio Margarito’s 2008 brutal victory over Cotto. The villainous Mexican was caught wearing loaded gloves prior to his next bout; throwing his earlier achievements into question. The Puerto Rican was convinced his first career defeat had been a victim of foul play, and was determined to punish his rival in their 2011 New York return. He succeeded, extinguished Margarito’s primitive rage, turning him into a physical wreck inside 10 rounds. Revenge served.
3. ZAB JUDAH
Cotto’s arrival among the leading fighters in the sport, pound-for-pound, was confirmed with this thrilling thrashing of Zab Judah. The snazzy American had his moments, drawing blood from Cotto’s mouth and right eye, but the WBA welterweight champion bossed large parts of this June 2007 showdown. Judah could not cope, and was dropped in the ninth before being finished in round 11.
4. RICARDO TORRES
Violence ruled in this 2005 light-welterweight barnburner. TV analyst Harold Lederman scored five of the completed six rounds 10-8, with both fighters dipping in and out of dire straits. Torres hit the deck in rounds one, four and six. Cotto was felled in the second – for the first time in his career – but was wobbling regularly, most notably in the fifth. It was all over in the seventh, as Torres collapsed again. This time there was no return.
5. SHANE MOSLEY
The warrior exhibited versatility when he outboxed Shane Mosley in 2007. The welterweight 12-rounder was intense and engrossing, but rarely wild. The slick and spiteful Mosley, on a five-fight winning streak, presented Cotto with plenty of problems, but few he could not solve. Miguel won a thoroughly deserved unanimous decision.
6. CARLOS QUINTANA
In 2006, Cotto stepped up to 147lbs for the first time against the unbeaten southpaw, Carlos Quintana. Cotto’s menace grew into the contest, and two heavy knockdowns convinced his countryman to stay on his stool after five sessions.
7. KELSON PINTO
Cotto picked up his first world title – the WBO light-welterweight crown – in his homeland when he defeated Kelson Pinto in 2004. The Brazilian was hammered to the mat in rounds two and five, before being dropped and stopped in the sixth.
8. MUHAMMAD ABDULLAEV
Cotto settled a score in June, 2005. Muhammad Abdullaev had beaten Cotto at the 2000 Olympics but there was no doubt who was the better man inside Madison Square Garden when the Asian was rescued from beneath a swollen right eye in the seventh.
9. VICTORANIO SOSA
Two fights removed from going 12 rounds with WBC lightweight champion Floyd Mayweather, Victoriano Sosa could not make it out of the fourth against Cotto in 2004.
10. RICARDO MAYORGA
Unhinged Nicaraguan Ricardo Mayorga did his best to invite Cotto into his madcap world, but the wise warrior kept his head, and masterfully hammered his way to victory in the 12th and final round. Cotto defended his WBA light-middleweight title in the process.