Cotto knocks out Geale in 4th round, retains WBC title

NEW YORK (AP) — Miguel Cotto didn’t quite break into “New York, New York” after one of his most powerful showings in the city that never sleeps.

He certainly could have after nearly putting Daniel Geale to sleep Saturday night in retaining the WBC middleweight title.

Cotto landed a huge left hook early in the fourth round and Geale went down like a tree falling in the forest. Somehow, the Australian got up, but he wasn’t staying up for long.

Cotto landed a dozen more punches, missed with a few others, then put Geale down again with a straight right. Referee Harvey Dock stopped the bout at 1:28 of the round. The Puerto Rican champion dominated from the outset at the Barclays Center and is 11-1 in New York.

“The first knockdown I was going to throw the left hand,” Cotto said. “As I threw it he put his right hand down and BOOM!”

Well, yeah.

Next up for Cotto (40-4, 33 knockouts) after his brilliant showing following a one-year layoff could be a big-money fight with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez later this year, a fight that is pretty much already lined up.

“If the people want that fight to happen,” Cotto said, “it will happen.”

Added trainer Freddie Roach: “Canelo is a young guy coming up, and Miguel is a guy that is getting better and better at what he does.”

That was clear on this night, and Cotto praised Roach for turning him into an even better boxer since his victory over Sergio Martinez a year ago. There was no rust on Cotto, and he worked Geale’s body from the first bell.

Then, when it an opening appeared for the money punches, Cotto delivered.

“Being away, training in Los Angeles for 10 weeks and coming here and winning like this was a great thrill,” Cotto said. “Freddie has made me better at everything.”

For Cotto, New York is a second home, but few of those previous wins were any more convincing than this one before 12,157 fans who chanted “Cotto! Cotto!” from the minute he headed to the ring as a huge Puerto Rican flag was waved inside the ropes. The roar couldn’t have been any louder had the Nets just hit a winning basket in their home than when Cotto rocked Geale the first time.

Geale (31-4) is a former middleweight champion who has fought three times in the United States, all losses. He was never in this one because Cotto wouldn’t allow it.

Cotto, 34, as is Geale, worked the body frequently, but also landed a bunch of shots to the head. In all, he threw 183 punches, and 37 percent connected to only 26 percent for Geale.

It was the sharp hook and then crushing right to the head that made the difference.

Cotto landed 68 punches to 33 by Geale, and the champion connected with 43 power punches. In the end, though, all it really took were the two fourth-round bombs.

Indeed, Geale had to ask his trainer after the fight how many rounds it went.

“I am so disappointed,” he said. “It went too fast and I am extremely disappointed.”

Because the fight was at a catch weight, Geale came in at 157 pounds but probably weighed another 15 pounds when he entered the ring. Cotto was 153 1-2, but said once again he doesn’t consider himself a true middleweight.

Cotto has owned titles at middleweight, super welterweight, welterweight and super lightweight. Roach sees his guy remaining a champion for a while longer.

“I like the fight,” he said about facing Alvarez next. “I think it is a good fight, but I like any next fight.”

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