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Cotto beats Malignaggi, defends jr. welterweight belt

6/12/2006 - Boxing

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."