Garden will be filled and loud for Cotto-Judah

Garden will be filled and loud for Cotto-Judah

Garden will be filled and loud for Cotto-Judah
Fri, Jun 8, 2007
By Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The Garden will be filled and possibly frenzied Saturday night. For once, the self-described mecca of boxing might live up to that billing when Miguel Cotto defends his WBA welterweight title against former champion Zab Judah.

Madison Square Garden officials say they have sold 19,000 tickets, opening the mezzanine section for a fight for the first time since 2001. Give credit in part to staging a Cotto fight on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day parade, the third straight year Cotto has been in the Garden ring on this weekend.

''I think this is a special fight to the Puerto Rican people and this being a sellout tells me people follow what I do,'' said Cotto, 29-0 with 24 knockouts. ''It's important people know who Miguel Cotto is and what he can do.''

And give credit to Judah, the local product who comes off a suspension, but seems very serious about this bout. He hasn't been in the ring since Floyd Mayweather outpointed him in April 2006, when Judah joined a melee in the ring in the 10th round sparked by his landing a punch to the back of Mayweather's head. Judah also was fined $250,000 for that fracas.

The Brooklyn native won the IBF crown in 2000 and had five successful defenses before being knocked out by Konstantin Tszyu in November 2001. Three of his four losses have come since then.

''Saturday night is an opportunity to go in there and take back what's mine,'' Judah said. ''I'm back now, my mind is right and everything is ready.''

Judah (34-4) will need to be ready for Cotto, who has become just as popular in the Big Apple as the fighter who was born here. When Cotto appeared at a street festival in the Bronx earlier this month, a crowd of about 20,000 turned out to meet him.

He also threw out the first pitch at a Mets game.

''I am very comfortable here, it is also like home to me,'' the 26-year-old Cotto said. ''And I know the more popular I am, the more people will come to see me fight, the more money they will pay me to fight.

''I know this is a business and I have no problems with that. And the people know when I get into the ring they will see me fight. They will get what they have come to see.''

They could be seeing the end of Judah as a welterweight factor if he's beaten again. At 29, he's not exactly old; indeed, Judah should be in his prime. But his unpredictable nature and his recent mediocre record mean he needs a strong showing in the 12-round championship fight, to be shown on HBO pay-per-view.

''Those issues are in the past,'' he insisted. ''This is my glory. I was known as the undisputed welterweight champ of the world and I'm just going to get back what was mine. I promise you fireworks.''

The entire card could be combustible - promoter Bob Arum has dubbed the night ''X-Plosive.''

Also on the bill is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., son of the Mexican legend many consider the best fighter of his era. The younger Chavez, 30-0-1 with 23 knockouts as a welterweight, meets Grover Wiley, who ended the elder Chavez's career two years ago.

The father will be in the son's corner Saturday night.

''I'm proud I was the last to beat his father and Saturday night I'll be celebrated as the first to beat his son.''

Chavez Jr., chuckled when he heard that and reminded Wiley (30-9-1) that ''he won't be fighting an old man this time.''

Two rising super welterweights, Yuri Foreman of Belarus by way of Israel, and Anthony Thompson of Philadelphia, also will fight. Between them, they are 45-1 with 25 knockouts.

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Re: Garden will be filled and loud for Cotto-Judah

Cotto the businessman vs. Judah the wild man
June 8, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -Miguel Cotto sat onstage at Madison Square Garden wearing a sharp brown suit. Zab Judah went for the hooded sweat shirt and shorts.

That hardly was the only contrast between the fighters who will meet Saturday night for Cotto's WBA welterweight title.

Cotto is from Puerto Rico, Judah is from Brooklyn. Cotto is unbeaten and, at 26 is on the rise with knockout wins in nine of his last 11 fights. Judah has lost his last two, both title bouts, and three of his last seven outings. At 29, Judah should be in his prime, but his recent mediocrity indicates otherwise.

Cotto has been considered a model citizen in the sport and has become a prime attraction for noted promoter Bob Arum. Judah comes off a suspension for his role in a melee during his last official fight, against Floyd Mayweather on April 8, 2006.

But when they enter the ring in front of an expected sellout crowd - the Garden has opened its mezzanine for boxing for the first time in six years - Cotto and Judah say none of that matters.

``It's all business,'' said Cotto, who certainly appeared dressed for a board meeting. ``This is a fight the public wants to see and we'll make it a good show. The time to talk is finished. We have to prove we can do a good show and the people know that I come to do that.

``Zab asks who is Miguel Cotto? I don't care if he asks it, he'll come to know who Miguel Cotto is on Saturday. I've come to hit him with my title.''

Cotto drew laughter for that comment, and he was smooth throughout a midweek news conference. He doesn't have Judah's flare, however.

Or, according to Judah, as much renown.

``Miguel is a local fighter to the Latino community,'' Judah said. ``But overseas they don't know him. They know Zab. They all know Zab.

``The biggest pay-per-view with Mayweather before the De La Hoya fight (last month) broke the records? It was against me. I fought Cory Spinks in his hometown, St. Louis. Cory Spinks couldn't sell out in St. Louis before, but we sold out.

``Miguel Cotto has never been to this type of hype before or opened the top level mezzanine at Madison Square Garden.''

This will be the third straight weekend of the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York that Cotto has fought in the Garden. He beat Muhammad Abdullaev in nine rounds as a junior welterweight in 2005, then outpointed Paul Malignaggi in 12 a year ago. Now he's a full welterweight, which his camp says suits him much better.

Cotto weighed 146 1/2 pounds, while Judah was at 145.

While promoters are playing up the weekend as a Puerto Rican festival in which Cotto is a star, Judah expects to have plenty of support in the Garden on Saturday night. And not just from his borough mates.

``I have plenty of good Latino friends and a lot of Puerto Rican fans, too,'' he said. ``I was on (a local radio program) and the people were kind of trying to take it to a Latino-African American thing. I don't want to get into that. I don't want to let anyone start something it shouldn't be. It's just boxing.''

It could be a big night for the sport, too.

Also on the bill is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., son of the Mexican legend many consider the best fighter of his era. The younger Chavez, 30-0-1 with 23 knockouts as a welterweight, meets Grover Wiley, who ended the elder Chavez's career two years ago.

The father will be in the son's corner Saturday night.

``I'm proud I was the last to beat his father and Saturday night I'll be celebrated as the first to beat his son.''

Chavez Jr., chuckled when he heard that and reminded Wiley (30-9-1) that ``he won't be fighting an old man this time.''

Two rising super welterweights, Yuri Foreman of Belarus by way of Israel, and Anthony Thompson of Philadelphia, also will fight. Between them, they are 45-1 with 25 knockouts.

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Re: Garden will be filled and loud for Cotto-Judah

Cotto stops Judah in 11th round
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - Miguel Cotto gave the sellout crowd what it came for: a knockout of one of its own.

The popular Puerto Rican welterweight thrilled his fans, who made up a majority of the filled-to-the-rafters Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, by stopping Brooklyn's Zab Judah in the 11th round to keep his WBA welterweight title.

With chants of "Cotto! Cotto!" and "Puerto Rico! Puerto Rico!" rocking the building, Cotto knocked down Judah earlier in the round before finishing off his 30th straight win at 49 seconds. It was the third straight year Cotto fought in the Garden on the eve of New York's Puerto Rican Day parade, and he gave the raucous crowd of 20,658 a terrific show.

"I expected a tough fight and that's what I got, a tough fight," Cotto said.

With Puerto Rico flags waving on every level, from floor seats to the mezzanine that rarely is open for boxing here nowadays, the scene could just have easily been San Juan. Although Judah grew up just a few miles from the Garden, he was an outsider on this night, heavily booed when he entered the ring.

Zab Judah reacts after taking a low blow in the first round. (Nick Laham / Getty Images)

It helped the action that Judah, who was last in a title fight 14 months ago when he was outpointed by Floyd Mayweather, brought his best. The former champion, coming off a suspension for his role in a melee during the Mayweather fight, fell to 34-5, but he has lost three in a row.

But a cut to the right eye and two low blows early in the fight by Cotto that wound up costing him a point slowed Judah in the later rounds.

"Those two low blows took a lot out of me," Judah said. "He hit me hard two times, the referee didn't say anything about it."

Cotto admitted he hit Judah low.

"Judah had his elbows so low the punches glanced off his elbows into the low blows," Cotto said.

The 26-year-old Cotto, 146 1/2 pounds, was as bloodied as Judah after his second title defense. The 2000 Olympian has 25 knockouts, but this one came with great difficulty as he was cut inside the mouth and by the right eye, and had blood running down his chest.

Indeed, Cotto was penalized a point for his second low blow, in the third round; the other came in the first. Both times, Judah went down in a neutral corner and was given plenty of time to walk it off.

But after the third round and the second low blow, Cotto took charge. He landed 90 power blows to 24 for Judah in the last four rounds, according to Compubox statistics.

"He did land some great punches on me, but I was very well prepared for that," Cotto said. "I could tell and I could feel I was taking the fight over round by round."

In the ninth, Judah, 145 pounds, went down to a knee in his corner even though he wasn't hit. It was the collection of punishment Cotto was delivering that made Judah kneel for an 8-count.

The knockout came shortly after a left hook floored Judah. He got up, only to be pummeled by Cotto, and referee Arthur Mercante Jr. stopped it.

Cotto then climbed the ropes in his corner and saluted his frenzied fans.

The 29-year-old Judah held the undisputed welterweight crown just two years ago, but his career spiraled when Carlos Baldomir took away the WBC title last year, and then Mayweather beat him with the IBF championship on the line.

After that bout, Judah was fined $250,000 and had his license suspended for a year by the Nevada Athletic Commission.

He was sharp in spurts Saturday night in what, against most other opponents would have been a home fight.

"I want a rematch," he said before leaving the ring

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