Cotto gets a battle but still stops Corley

Originally Published: February 26, 2005
By Thomas Gerbasi |

Demarcus Corley came to fight when he took on Miguel Cotto at the Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Saturday night.

After Corley seriously hurt the highly touted WBO junior welterweight champion in the third round, it was indeed a fight. But in the end, a 17-pound weight advantage and a quick hook from the referee proved to be too much for the former world champion, who was stopped at 2:45 of the fifth round.

"It was more difficult than I had planned, but fortunately we were able to get the win," said Cotto, who weighed 157 on HBO's unofficial scales before the fight, compared with 140 for Corley, thus making this a match between a middleweight and a junior welterweight once the opening bell rang.

Faced with the substantial weight disadvantage, Corley came to fight at the opening bell, only to be sent to the canvas in the first 30 seconds via a short left hook to the side of the head. Quickly rising, Corley engaged again, landing a couple of stiff shots that did little to Cotto, who scored with a left that staggered his foe in the corner. Corley was able to hold on, and once the fight resumed the ex-champion again refused to use his speed and boxing skills, opting to stand at close quarters with the Puerto Rican favorite.

Cotto continued to quietly stalk Corley in the second, and his compact left hook was getting closer and closer to the mark. A short rest after Cotto was penalized for a low blow did give Corley a brief respite, and the former champion from Washington, D.C. landed well in the latter stages of the round as he bravely stayed in the pocket.

Early in the third round, the crowd gasped as a right to the jaw staggered Cotto and subsequently forced him to hold and then move to clear his head. Corley followed up with shots to the body, but didn't show the urgency you would expect from a fighter who had his opponent on unsteady wheels. Cotto appeared to get his legs back under him in the final minute, but Corley had scored enough to easily take the round and he appeared to have momentum on his side as well.

Corley landed the right to the head cleanly in the early stages of the fourth as well, but Cotto took it well. But by the midway point of the round, Cotto was back on the offensive, a charge only stopped when a blatant low blow forced a point deduction from Corley. Both fighters had their moments in the final minute, but it was Cotto with the last laugh via a hard hook to the head.

The frantic pace of the early rounds slowed in the fifth, and both fighters landed power shots from their opposite stances. The crowd erupted in the second minute of the round as Cotto pressed the action, and a borderline hook to the midsection put Corley down for a second time with 45 seconds to go in the round. In the ensuing sequence Cotto had Corley against the ropes, seemed to miss successive hooks, and Corley went to a knee, prompting a bizarre stoppage from referee Enrique Quinones Falu.

"I went down on a knee and he didn't even hit me," an incredulous Corley said. "The ref just stopped the fight prematurely. If he wanted to stop the fight, he could have stopped it when I had him hurt."

And though the end appeared to be near at the time of the stoppage, Corley got robbed of a chance to recover and perhaps pull the upset, and Cotto got robbed of a definitive finish. The fans did all right though, getting a fight, and not a mismatch.

With the victory, Cotto improves to 23-0 with 19 KOs. Corley falls to 29-4-1 with 16 KOs, and was stopped for the first time in his career.