Cotto punishes Kamegai to win sixth world title
Miguel Cotto withstood constant early pressure from Yoshihiro Kamegai and picked up a pace as the fight wore on to take a unanimous decision for the vacant WBO junior middleweight title at the sold-out StubHub Center in Carson, California, on Saturday night.
"It was a tough fight, but we did what we came here to do," Cotto said. "We have another champion for Puerto Rico."
Cotto (41-5, 33 knockouts) won the sixth world title of his career, receiving winning scores of 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110 from the judges.
Cotto was the more active fighter, throwing multiple combinations. However, Kamegai kept coming forward, sprinting to Cotto to take even more punishment.
"I've never seen a guy like that," trainer Freddie Roach said. "He really doesn't know what's good for him, I think. He's the toughest guy I ever saw in my life. Miguel's a good puncher, believe me."
Prior to the fight, the 36-year-old Cotto said this would be his final year.
In the post-fight interview with HBO, Cotto said he wants to fight one more time in December. Asked who he wanted to fight next, Cotto deferred to Roach, who said he would like for Cotto to fight the winner of the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin fight next month.
The one request Cotto did have was to have his final fight be at Madison Square Garden in New York, the Rhode Island fighter's largest fanbase.
As for the opponent, Cotto wouldn't get into too many specifics, but made it clear that he didn't want his final fight to be an easy one.
"I'm always one to go out there and face the best," Cotto said. "We are always willing to go against the best."
Cotto fought for the first time since losing a unanimous decision to Alvarez in November 2015.
Despite all the power shots Cotto could land, Kamegai (27-4-2) never looked as if he was in danger of being knocked down. Cotto drew blood from the 34-year-old Japanese fighter's nose in the second. After the seventh, Kamegai's corner was working on a cut under his left eye.
As much damage as Cotto was inflicting on Kamegai, he said he knew halfway through the fight he would have to go the distance.
"He was just a tough opponent," Cotto said. "I'm really proud of my performance out there and we're happy."
As relentless as Kamegai was, he could not mount enough offense as Cotto was quicker to the punch.
"I felt so much frustration not being able to land any of my punches,' Kamegai said. "I could not catch him at all. He is such a talented legend. I am so glad I got the opportunity to fight him."
Cotto was impressive in holding him off. During the post-fight interview, it was suggested that he could fight beyond 2017.
"Come December 31st, I will retire," Cotto said. "I've done it all. I'm 36 going on 27, and I think I've come to the end of my career. I will fight once more in December."