LAS VEGAS (March 13, 2011) – After months of an incident-filled, antagonistic promotion, Miguel Cotto and Ricardo Mayorga delivered an equally entertaining fight on SHOWTIME PPV® ending with a TKO victory for Cotto at 0:53 in the twelfth round. Pawel Wolak upset Yuri Foreman with a pressure-filled fight that ended in technical knockout at the end of six after Foreman refused to answer the bell for the seventh round. Baltimore Ravens safety Tommy Zbikowski scored a TKO over Richard Bryant at 1:45 of round one and Miguel Vazquez retained his International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight title over Leonardo Zappavigna via unanimous decision with scores of 117-111 and 118-110 two times.
Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs), from Caguas, Puerto Rico, summed it up perfectly: “The whole fight was great but the finish was amazing.” In a fight that both camps predicted would end in less than four rounds, Cotto and Mayorga gave the 7,247 in attendance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and boxing fans watching at home on pay-per-view more than their money’s worth by pushing the action-packed fight into the twelfth round.
Mayorga (29-8-1, 23 KOs), from Managua, Nicaragua, carried his pre-fight bravado into the ring with taunts and sarcastic smiles. In the third round, “El Matador” ran into a neutral corner and attempted to goad Cotto into a corner-of-the-ring brawl. Unlike a bull that might jump at a matador’s invitation, the completely unfazed Cotto kept his cool and boxed the wild puncher. Cotto’s devastating jab landed repeatedly throughout the bout, causing major swelling over Mayorga’s left eye. Cotto’s shots were shorter, sharper and harder than Mayorga’s, as predicted by trainer Emanuel Steward.
Though never truly rocking the champion 154-pounder. Mayorga caused problems for Cotto by fighting from odd angles and landing looping punches. Leading into the final round, Mayorga knew he needed a knockout and, as he did at so many other points in the fight, went for broke.
Unfortunately for the Nicaraguan fighter, what broke – or at the very least dislocated – was his left thumb. Amidst a flurry of punches, Cotto’s and Mayorga’s hands clashed just before Cotto landed his signature left hook square on Mayorga’s cheek and the combined pain forced Mayorga to his knee while gripping at his hand. Mayorga stood up to continue but realized he couldn’t close his left hand and decided to end the fight.
“I tried to finish the final round but the pain in my hand was too much,” said Mayorga. “I don’t care about my thumb; I didn’t want it to end like that.”
The TKO victory for Cotto served as the first title defense of his World Boxing Association (WBA) super welterweight championship since winning it in Yankee Stadium over Foreman last summer. He has now won 16 of his 18 world championship bouts.
After the fight, the humble Pride of Puerto Rico complemented his opponent, “[Mayorga] has pretty strong hands and he could beat anyone.”
Mayorga showed a rare bit of respect in return, “As a man, I have to admit when I do well and when I do not. Give Cotto credit,” said Mayorga. “He hits hard and is a great champion.”
The scintillating clash marked the end of the first co-promotion between legends Bob Arum and Don King in five years and proved to be another classic.
Foreman’s string of tough luck continued on Saturday from Las Vegas. After his first career loss to Cotto, ACL surgery and the death of his longtime manager, Foreman (28-2, 8 KOs) of Brooklyn, N.Y., suffered a lopsided loss that saw him quit on the stool after round six. Wolak (29-1, 19 KOs) set the tone early with heavy pressure and stalked Foreman from the opening bell. Foreman had few answers and made no adjustments throughout the super welterweight bout allowing Wolak to land countless combinations and clubbing right hands.
“I didn’t feel like myself tonight,” said Foreman. “From the long layoff, I didn’t feel sharp. I felt mushy.”
After six rounds, Foreman’s corner had seen enough of the one-sided scrap and called the fight. Wolak jumped up in elation and credited the dominant performance to his work ethic. “If you ain’t the fastest guy, you ain’t the slickest guy, you [have to] work like a madman,” said the 29-year-old emerging junior middleweight from New Jersey.
Zbikowski (2-0, 2 KO), of Chicago, Ill., didn’t waste any time racking up his second career win after a long hiatus from the ring. The former Notre Dame standout, with the uncertainty of a 2011 NFL season looming, returned to his first love of boxing to score a first-round TKO over Bryant in a heavyweight bout scheduled for four rounds. At the fight’s outset, the fighters got tied up and Zbikowski utilized some football skill by throwing Bryant (1-3, 1 KO), London, Ky., to the canvas. After the action resumed, Zbikowski landed a left hook to the body that knocked the wind out of Bryant, causing him to fall to the ground and the fight to come an end via technical knockout at 1:45 in the first round.
In the evening’s first fight, Vazquez (28-3-2, 12 KOs), of Guadalajara, México, successfully defended his IBF lightweight title for the second time. Against an outmatched Zappavigna (25-1, 17 KOs), of Sydney, Australia, Vazquez used his long jab to capitalize on his height advantage.
Zappavigna, in his first title fight, pressured Vazquez early but could not match the skills of the champion. By the third round, Vazquez began to tenderize the skin above Zappavigna’s eyes which led to multiple cuts by the middle of the fight. Movement also served as a problem for Zappavigna as Vazquez’ fast feet kept the Aussie from turning the fight into a brawl.
In the end, the judges ruled the bout a unanimous decision in favor of Vazquez with Patricia Morse-Jarman scoring the fight 117-111and both Glenn Trowbridge and Burt Clements scoring the bout 118-110.
The Cotto-Mayorga fight will be rebroadcast on Saturday, March 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME before Lucian Bute defends his IBF super middleweight belt against Brian Magee.
Cotto vs. Mayorga was promoted by Top Rank, in association with Cotto Promotions, Don King Productions, Tecate and MGM Grand, and produced and distributed live by SHOWTIME PPV®. Steve Albert called the action with Al Bernstein and Antonio Tarver serving as expert analyst and Jim Gray serving as ringside reporter. David Dinkins, Jr. is the executive producer of SHOWTIME Sports® with Ray Smaltz producing and Bob Dunphy directing.
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