28.02.04 – By Stephanie Regusa: Over 8,000 were in attendance at MGM’s Grand Garden Arena to see a stunning night of professional boxing promoted by Top Rank Inc.
Puerto Rico ushered in its newest boxing hero as 23-year-old Miguel Cotto demolished the Dominican Republic’s Victoriano Sosa in 2:51 of the 4th round.
From the onset of the match, Cotto dominated with his right hand tattooing Sosa’s head and body. Poised and tactful, Cotto crippled Sosa knocking him down three times during the fourth round. Obviously weakened and bleeding from the mouth, referee Kenny Bayless wisely called a halt to the bout.
Universally recognized as one of the top-ten junior welterweights in the world, Miguel Cotto solidified his stature in the talented 140 lb division. Cotto holds the WBC International title and improved to 18-0 with 16 knockouts. Following the fight, Cotto stated, “As long as I keep training and stay in good condition, I will fight whomever my promoter and manager put in front of me.”
In the main event, super featherweights Jesus “El Matador” Chavez put his WBC world title on the line against two-time world champion Erik “El Terrible” Morales.
The collective heartbeat of Mexico could be felt in the arena as two Mexican warriors fought for their countrymen, for glory, and for pride. From the beginning, the fight had all the makings for fight-of-the-year.
In the first round, Chavez appeared to gain ground on his opponent landing crisp, powerful blows at will. However, “El Matador” would not hold an advantage over Morales for long.
“El Terrible” tasted revenge during the second round knocking Chavez down twice. Bombs were thrown and chins were tested in nearly every exchange. Chavez sustained a cut over his left eye in the 5th round, yet battled through the remaining rounds of the championship bout.
At the start of the 12th round, the crowd returned to its feet chanting louder than an audience five times its size. The feverish atmosphere reminded boxing fans of their love for classic Mexican fights, and Chavez-Morales did not disappoint.
Ultimately, Chavez’s knockdowns in the second round proved too much to overcome on the judges’ scorecards, which read 118-108, 117-109, and 115-112.
Erik Morales becomes only the second Mexican besides Julio Cesar Chavez to win world titles in three weight divisions. Cesar Chavez was seated ringside to support Morales and to assist in the corner of his son, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. who improved to 5-1, with 1 knockout.
“Mexicans and Latin fighters always give something we don’t even know we have. We give it our all for the fans,” Morales commented after the fight. The new WBC junior lightweight champion alluded to future fights with Carlos Hernandez and perhaps a rematch with Jesus Chavez.
A dramatic end to the evening came after the arena had nearly emptied. Lawton, Oklahoma’s Grady Brewer knocked out highly touted super welterweight prospect Anthony Thompson at 2:10 of the 3rd round. After falling back into the ropes, it was clear that Thompson was unable to continue. Referee Tony Weeks waived off the bout and assisted Thompson to his stool well after the count of ten.
The evening marked the final HBO broadcast of George Foreman as a ringside commentator for the network. The former heavyweight champion plans to return to the ring at the age of 55 for a one-time comeback. At the conclusion of the main event, ring announcer Michael Buffer formerly acknowledged Foreman in the ring.