NEW YORK -- Miguel Cotto has forgotten the past, especially the lone blemish on his boxing career.
The undefeated WBO junior welterweight champion from Puerto Rico will defend his title Saturday night in a 12-round bout at Madison Square Garden against the only man to beat him -- Muhammad Abdullaev of Uzbekistan.
Cotto has won all of his 23 pro fights, 19 by KOs. His lone
defeat came as an amateur, at the hands of Abdullaev in the opening
round of the 2000 Olympics. He lost a 17-10 decision.
Abdullaev, now living in Germany and ranked No. 5 by the WBO, is
15-1 with 12 knockouts.
"The Olympics is an old story," Cotto said. "Saturday night will be a new chapter and a different result than when I fought him in the Olympics.
"And when I march in the Puerto Rico Day parade up Fifth Avenue on Sunday, I will be leading it still as the world champion."
Cotto last defended his title on Feb. 26 with a fifth-round TKO over DeMarcus Corley.
Abdullaev won his first 11 bouts before losing to Emmanuel
Clottey in 2003 because of a timing mixup. After getting into
trouble in the 10th and final round, Abdullaev took a knee. He then
mistook the referee's count and was still down at the count of 10.
"I said after that loss that I would never lose again," the
31-year old contender said. "Since I beat [Cotto] once, I know I
can do it again. There will be a new champion Saturday night."
Undefeated Almazbek Raiymkulov, a 2000 Olympian from Kyrgystan
who fights under the name Kid Diamond, faces former world champion
Joel Casamayor in a WBA-sanctioned lightweight title elimination
bout on the undercard.
Raiymkulov is 20-0 with 12 KOs and is ranked No. 7 by the WBA. Casamayor, 31-3 with 19 KOs, was an Olympic gold medallist for his native Cuba and went on to win the WBA super featherweight title in 2000.