Cotto retains WBO title

Updated: 25 February 2007 10:38 IST

Miguel Cotto stopped Italian challenger Gianluca Branco 49 seconds into the eighth round to retain the WBO junior welterweight title on Saturday.

Bayamon:

Miguel Cotto stopped Italian challenger Gianluca Branco 49 seconds into the eighth round to retain the WBO junior welterweight title on Saturday. "I started to work on him with the first ring of the bell," Cotto said. "It wasn't an easy fight, it was a tough fight." Cotto improved to 26-0, with 22 knockouts. The 25-year-old champion defended his title for the fifth time, all knockouts, before a full house at Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in his native Puerto Rico. He landed left jabs and hooks to the face at will. His aggressive attack kept Branco stepping backward, into the ropes. Fighting back Branco tried to fight back by throwing wild punches that rarely penetrated Cotto's defensive stance. "He did not hurt me. He had his good punches but this was our night," Cotto said. "He came to try and use his style, to try to block and then punch". Branco's left eye started to swell in the first round, and Cotto quickly went to work on the challenger's right eye in the second round as well. By the end of the fight, Branco's right eye and the right side of his jaw were puffed and slightly bleeding. Branco, who punched Cotto below the belt in the fourth round, complained several times to no avail about low blows and headbutts. The crowd chanted "Cotto! Cotto! Cotto!" from the beginning of the undercard until the end of the title bout. Branco dropped to 36-2-1, with 19 knockouts. The 35-year-old challenger from Civitavecchia, Italy, was ranked sixth by the WBO before the fight. (AP)

Topics : Boxing
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