Cotto beats Malignaggi, defends jr. welterweight belt

Originally Published: June 10, 2006
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Undefeated Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico survived a tougher-than-expected fight, successfully defending his WBO junior welterweight championship with a unanimous 12-round decision over Paulie Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

Malignaggi (left) and Cotto
Hard left: Cotto (right) handed a tough Malignaggi his first pro loss. (AP/Peter Morgan)

Malignaggi, of Brooklyn, N.Y., lost for the first time after 21 victories. He suffered a fractured right orbital bone and a possible broken right jaw, and was taken to Roosevelt Hospital immediately after the decision was announced.

Judges Glenn Feldman and Peter Trematerra scored it 116-111, while Dan Trella had it 115-112.

Cotto, now 27-0 with 22 KOs, opened a two-inch cut over the loser's right eye in the first round.

It was never bad enough to stop the fight, but Malignaggi said, "This was the first time in which I was cut, and the blood kept going into my eye. And it bothered me the entire fight. I was not able to see very well. Cotto's a great fighter, but I'm disappointed, as I wanted to be the champion.

"I need a couple of more fights to get the experience I'm lacking. Cotto is the hardest puncher I've ever faced."

Cotto, who will march in the Puerto Rico Day Parade up Fifth Avenue on Sunday, said, "I'm happy with the decision, and I didn't think it was going to be this tough."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press