HBO results: Miguel Cotto decisions Yoshihiro Kamegai
Miguel Cotto added another world title to his trophy case on Saturday night, after earning a unanimous decision over Yoshihiro Kamegai to win the vacant WBO junior middleweight title. The fight was the main event of an “HBO World Championship Boxing” card hosted at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
“I tried to do my best and I think I did that tonight,” said Cotto to HBO’s Max Kellerman after the victory. “I am happy with my performance. (Kamegai)’s a tough fighter and was a tough opponent. It was during round five or six that I knew he was going to make it to the 12 rounds.”
Fighting out of Tokyo, Japan, Kamegai ambitiously trotted forward, upon the sounding of the opening bell – a giddy-up often seen throughout the 12 rounds of action, where the class, experience and skill of Cotto ultimately prevailed. But within the first three minutes, the busy-handed Kamegai landed a left uppercut/right hand combination that seemed to catch Cotto off-guard, and spark a firefight that would extend into the third. Cotto, 36, was momentarily buzzed from the right hand but gathered himself in the second round to bloody Kamegai’s nose with power left hooks that came off a strong jab.
Cotto, 41-5 (33), could be seen breathing heavily out of his mouth by the fourth round but, by this point, he was easily out-boxing Kamegai not only with the shorter, cleaner shots but with footwork and movement around the ring that kept the Japanese warrior from being able to return any meaningful shots. Kamegai’s determination to recreate his first round magic was never dismayed as he continued to press forward with no avail, and his body language showed what was on the inside.
“I felt so much frustration not being able to land any of my punches,” said Kamegai after the fight. “I could not catch (Cotto) at all. I couldn’t catch him at all. He is such a talented legend, I am so glad I got the opportunity to fight him.”
Kamegai, 27-4-2 (24), would often smack his gloves together to show his frustration and, sometimes, when caught with a clean shot to the head, he would slowly turn his head to Cotto as if he if he were some robot. After a seventh round, in which it seemed like he got himself back into the fight, Cotto went on to make sure it didn’t happen by stepping up his work rate and going on to earn wide scores of 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110. It was a one-sided fight overall but Kamegai won a toughman exhibition and may have captured the imagination of the 7,689 onlookers on this evening, when sides and stances were openly taken. Cotto embraced Kamegai with a hug immediately after the fight was over, perhaps reminded that, no matter what playing field he’s on, there are some guys out there in the world of boxing who are seemingly unbreakable.
“Come December 31st, I will retire. I’ve did it and done it all,” said Cotto. “I’m 36 going on 37 and I think I’ve come to the end of my career. I will fight once more in December. I’ll let (trainer) Freddie (Roach) tell you who I want.”
“We want the winner of Canelo-GGG,” Roach chimed in.
In the HBO co-feature, Rey Vargas scored a unanimous decision win over Ronny Rios to successfully defend his WBC junior featherweight title for the first time.
“We came here to take the belt back home, even if that means that we didn’t get the knockout,” said the Mexican, who is trained by Nacho Berestain. “Rios was definitely an intelligent and skillful fighter. He got me with some head shots that threw me off and he was of an elite level, when it came to his boxing. We definitely need to go back and refine our style,.”
Vargas, 30-0 (22), was the volume puncher of the fight and, although there were what seemed to be plenty of close rounds, those are what ultimately earned him the scores of 118-110 twice and 115-113. The closer score may have hinted at the true story of the fight, in which Rios hurt Vargas in the eighth round with a left hook. It was the most meaningful punch of the fight but Rios got off to an awfully tentative start that may have been the hill too high to climb as the fight neared its end.
“I wasn’t expecting for (Vargas) to move so much. He was running more than I was expecting for him to,” said Rios, 28-2 (13). “We put up a good fight and my team and I will have to go back to the drawing board.”
Joet Gonzalez KO 5 Deivi Julio – featherweight
“It feels really good to get the fifth round stoppage, said Gonzalez, 17-0 (9). “My opponent really knew how to box. He was on the Colombian National team, so that meant we had to come prepared for battle. I’m ready to fight again real soon – hopefully by October you’ll see me again.”
Emilio Sanchez KO 5 Danny Flores – junior featherweight
“I feel satisfied with my win tonight,” proclaimed Sanchez, 15-0 (11). “I was really working on closing the gap and I want to work on my technique and style and be able to be distinct among all the fighters in my pretty stacked division.”
Tenochtitlan Nava UD 4 Angel Aguilar (39-37, unanimously per three judges) – featherweight
“I feel great – I made it out of the ring without any significant damage to my body,” said Nava, 7-0 (1). “I tried to close the gap between me and my opponent and focused on landing my jab throughout the fight. One of the next steps to becoming a world champion is going up to six rounds – I feel like I am ready.”
Genaro Gamez UD 6 Rafael Reyes (59-53 twice, 58-54) – junior welterweight
“I wanted to give my fans a good show and (Reyes) was able to soak up a lot of my punches, said Gamez, 6-0 (4). “It’s been a tough couple of weeks, so this win is really sweet. I recognize that this wasn’t my best performance. I am not at my desired weight and I’m still learning as a fighter but my dream is to fight top names and this was a step towards it.”
Javier Padilla Draw Ricardo Arias (38-38, per all three official ringside judges) – junior featherweight
“I’m not very happy with the way the judges scored the fight but I know that this is a learning experience,” lamented Padilla, 3-0-1 (3). “I should have used my reach a lot more; however, I just like to fight from the inside. (Arias) was tough, and kept smothering my punches. I’m ready to get back into the ring.”
“I wasn’t the favorite, so that’s why we got the draw. I was robbed,” proclaimed Arias, 1-1-1.
Janiel Rivera KO 1 Marco A. Sanchez – minimumweight
“I am extremely happy to be here in Los Angeles. This is the first time I have ever fought here and it’s been a complete dream come true,” said Rivera, 16-2-3 (10). “In winning this fight, it proves to me that all the sacrifice and training I have put in has given me the desired results we came here for.”
Ruben Rodriguez TKO 2 Rolando Padilla – junior welterweight
“I’m glad that I had my debut win be a knockout,” Rodriguez, 1-0 (1). “Considering that I was really nervous, I’m satisfied with my performance. I got to start my professional career on a Miguel Cotto undercard and that is really crazy to me and is a great way for me make my way up in boxing.”