Cotto Wins in Bizarre Ending

04.03.07 - By Roland Flores: Oktay Urkal (38-4, 12 KO's) came into Saturday nights’ fight at Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, in Puerto Rico, as the known underdog and he knew it. Urkal was the mandatory challenger for Miguel Cotto (29-0, 24 KO's). This fight was supposed to be a showcase boxing fight in front of the home crowd for Cotto, and it was suppose to provide excitement for the June 9th fight between Zab Judah and Miguel Cotto..

However, Cotto failed miserably to impress the crowd, as he seemingly ran out of gas by the sixth round, and got tagged a lot from then on until the strange ending in the 11th, when Urkal's trainer suddenly threw in the towel following a point being deducted against Urkal - the second point deduction - for clashing heads with Cotto. At that point, Urkal's boxing trainer, perhaps in protest, threw in the towel, saying later that the referee wasn't fairly refereeing the fight, as he was repeatedly warning Urkal about leading with his head, yet was saying nothing about Cotto's punches to the back of Urkal, which occurred on numerous occasions during the fight, so much so, that there were visible red marks on Urkal's back.

The fight began with both boxers feeling each other out. Cotto was winning the rounds but working the body hard. Urkal was throwing back punches and most were power punches that landed, but they did not have the power Cotto’s had. Cotto was the aggressor from Round 1 to 6. He was out-landing him Urkal and landing the more cleaner shots, he also stunned him a few times. Nonetheless, it was a very tactical fight. Although things would take a turn when Cotto was cut by a head butt.

In Round 7, things were beginning to look better for Urkal. It seemed that Cotto took this round off. Urkal was the busier fighter and he was throwing and landing more than him. Urkal seemed to be on the way to winning the round until referee Luis Pabon took a point away from Urkal for head butts.

The blood from the cut seemed to bother Cotto. Round 8 was a round Urkal was winning. He was landing the bigger more cleaner shots and the bigger combos. This round Pabon called time for the doctor to check the cut, but the doctor said it was fine. Urkal won this round on my card.

In Rounds 9 and 10, Cotto started to wake up and throw more punches. Cotto wobbled him in both rounds and Urkal switched to fighting defensively. Cotto was working the body and it proved to be effective. At the end of round 10, things began to become bizarre when during a clinch, Cotto - looking increasingly frustrated that he was unable to knock Urkal out - attempted to pick up Urkal and he nearly flipped him to the ground as the round ended. According to HBO’s Jim Lampley, it looked like a WWF move. However, it seemed to indicate that Cotto had lost his composure, as Urkal was out-landing Cotto during these rounds, and seeming like the fresher fighter, despite being 11 years older than Cotto, at 37.

Round 11 began and Cotto stunned him. He worked the body and landed a hard jab. Then Urkal seemed to head butt Cotto and referee Luis Pabon took away another point. Then Urkal’s trainer Ulli Wegner threw in the towel.

In a post fight interview with HBO, Wegner said the reason for the stoppage was because of the feeling that they could not win. Also they felt that Urkal was getting hit with illegal punches and they knew they were already losing because of the open scoring. Lastly, he knew that Urkal would not be able to pitch a comeback since Cotto is another class of a fighter than Urkal.
Cotto is now scheduled to fight Judah in June, this fight will be finalized if Judah wins his tuneup fight in April.

Article posted on 05.03.2007

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