Miguel Cotto Beats Yoshihiro Kamegai to Win WBO Junior Middleweight Title

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2017

Miguel Cotto, of Puerto Rico, celebrates after defeating Daniel Geale, of Australia, during the fourth round of a boxing match Saturday, June 6, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Miguel Cotto made his return to the boxing ring Saturday night after nearly two years without a fight, and he looked the part of a veteran champion as he decimated Yoshihiro Kamegai en route to a resounding unanimous-decision victory Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

BoxingScene.com's Francisco A. Salazar provided the cards:

Boxing fans tuning in to and sticking with the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor pay-per-view missed an entertaining bout. Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) and Kamegai (27-4-2, 24 KOs) unloaded on each other for 12 rounds, with haymaker after haymaker finding the range.

This still from HBO Boxing encapsulates the fight:

Cotto was the superior boxer from the first second to the last, but he had to work to claim the vacant WBO world super welterweight title. Some day, scientists will have to study whatever indestructible alloy the Japanese boxer's chin is made of. 

CompuBox showed Cotto hit some personal bests in the match: 

The fight was the 36-year-old Puerto Rican's return from a 21-month layoff following his resounding decision loss to Canelo Alvarez in November 2015. It could be his second-to-last fight, as he plans to retire at the end of the year.

"Sixteen years is enough, and I have other things to do in life," Cotto told reporters, per the Los Angeles Times' Lance Pugmire. "I have to … quit boxing and retire [by] Dec. 31."

In a post-match interview, Cotto confirmed he will have one more fight in December, per the HBO broadcast. 

Kamegai's power and speed were apparent early, establishing him as a worthwhile opponent. He found the target on several stinging power punches. Cotto matched Kamegai's activity and showed excellent timing on a counter left hook at the end of the first round. 

UCNLive.com's Steve Kim appreciated Kamegai's intensity:

The two managed to ratchet up the intensity in the second round, and Cotto bloodied Kamegai's nose and lip. Cotto normally is solid in defense, but he took some great shots even as he maintained the upper hand early on. 

HBO Boxing showed the two trading punches at the end of the second round: 

The all-out display from Kamegai, only two years Cotto's junior, appeared designed to test the lungs and heart of the soon-to-be retired opponent. He waded through devastating punches, forcing Cotto to keep up a furious pace. 

Actress Rosie Perez marveled at the Japanese boxer's ability to withstand these blows: 

Kamegai did seem to relish the punishment, as if it helped him tap into a wellspring of energy. Cotto did better to protect himself in the middle rounds while maintaining his speed, precision and power. 

Here's Cotto connecting at will in Round 5, per HBO Boxing: 

The bout eventually slowed in the later rounds. Kamegai's willpower and chin were unbelievable, but he was never able to outbox or outpunch his Hall of Fame-worthy opponent.

Boxing scribe William Dettloff summed up Kamegai's ability to tolerate pain: 

Kamegai flashed at times in the late rounds as Cotto's stamina waned, but he was never quite skillful enough to take advantage. The match became all too repetitive by the end, with Cotto proving himself better throughout.

Cotto appears intent on retiring, but the fight Saturday showed he has more left in the tank than even he might've expected. Whichever boxer gets Cotto at the end of the calendar year will have his hands full. He still has some excellent boxing left in him.