ON December 2, 2006, in an all-Puerto Rican clash at the Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, Miguel Cotto dispatched Carlos Quintana in brutal fashion to win the WBA welterweight title vacated by Ricky Hatton.
The fight pitted two unbeaten fighters against one another and would answer questions about both men, with Cotto setting out to prove that he could mix it at welterweight with the same type of power and vicious body punching that he had demonstrated in the weight class below and Quintana yet to prove that he could handle the power and pressure of a fighter of Cotto’s calibre. In the end, the answers to these questions would be conclusive.
The opening three sessions saw Quintana keeping the fight long, boxing at range and popping out southpaw jabs and straight lefts. The fight had been entertaining and close in the early goings, but, by the end of the fourth stanza Quintana was visibly blowing and Cotto was beginning to close the range.
Storming out for the fifth round, Cotto could sense the end may be nearing. After frequently being tagged with left and rights to the head and body, Quintana was no longer able to keep Cotto at bay. It was an admirable display of guts and resilience which saw ‘‘El Indio’’ reach the bell at the end of the fifth, with two trademark Cotto left hooks to the body having floored, and badly hurt, Quintana. However, the damage inflicted by Cotto’s body punching ensured that referee Steve Smoger was forced to step in and stop the fight on the advice of the ringside doctor at the end of a one-sided fifth.
In his post-fight interview Cotto – who weighed in at 146lbs – declared that he ‘‘felt very strong at the weight”, suggesting that he was ready to begin a new reign of terror – this time in the 147 pound division. “I felt very strong at this weight,” Cotto said. “I could do anything I wanted to do. I’ve always dreamed of being one of the greatest champions from Puerto Rico, like [Wilfred] Benitez and [Felix] Trinidad. I am on my way.”
His tenure atop the welters ended with that tainted and controversial loss to arch-nemesis Antonio Margarito in 2008.