PULLING NO PUNCHES: Austin Trout lands a punch to the head of Miguel Cotto, left, in the ninth round during their junior middleweight world title fight at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday. The 12-round decision was unanimous in Trout’s favour. Picture: REUTERS
PULLING NO PUNCHES: Austin Trout lands a punch to the head of Miguel Cotto, left, in the ninth round during their junior middleweight world title fight at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday. The 12-round decision was unanimous in Trout’s favour. Picture: REUTERS

NEW YORK — Austin Trout retained his World Boxing Association junior middleweight world title on Saturday, remaining unbeaten with a 12-round unanimous decision over Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto.

In a closely contested bout, Trout finished strongly to hand Cotto his first defeat at Madison Square Garden, the landmark New York arena where Cotto had won seven previous bouts.

Judges Steve Weisfeld and John Poturaj scored 117-111 for Trout, with Adelaide Byrd recording 119-109 for Trout, who went to 26-0 with 14 knockouts.

"I knew some of the rounds were close," Trout said. "I felt like I pulled out a lot of rounds, but you never know in a close round."

Cotto, a three-division world champion, fell to 37-4 with 30 wins inside the distance.

Trout rattled Cotto with a hard left in the first round. As the action heated up in the fourth, it suited Cotto. The second half saw more intensity from both men.

Trout was impressive in the 10th round and again in the 11th, when he continued to pummel Cotto’s face, and the final round saw several furious exchanges.

Cotto, fighting in his adopted hometown, was an overwhelming favourite among the crowd of more than 13,000 but he looked resigned after the final bell. His face battered, he knelt in a corner of the ring as Trout’s corner lifted their man aloft as the fighters waited to hear the decision.

"I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole career," said Trout, who despite his unbeaten status had yet to cement his place among the division’s elite.

"You do get anxious when you fight a guy like him, but it motivates you, too. I had to show him I was the bigger guy and push him back a couple of times."

It was a second successive defeat for the 32-year-old Cotto, who dropped a unanimous decision to unbeaten Floyd Mayweather in May. Cotto had insisted that the fight "rejuvenated" him.

But Saturday’s defeat cast doubt on a planned Cotto bout with World Boxing Council 154-pound champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez of Mexico.

Alvarez was at ringside, and Trout made it clear he wants a shot at the Mexican star, saying: "Hey, Canelo, I want you Canelo. It’s time to unify this division. I need that strap off his waist."

Meanwhile, the gloves worn by Evander Holyfield in his 1997 heavyweight rematch with Mike Tyson, in which Tyson bit off a chunk of Holyfield’s ear, fetched $35,200 at an auction, the Julien’s auction house website said.

The gloves were part of a list of 445 items that belonged to former heavyweight world champion Holyfield that were auctioned off on Friday by the Beverly Hills-based auction house.

The auction, however, had run into trouble when Holyfield said that he did not want to part with some items and sued to prevent their sale.

Little more than a week before the scheduled sale, the former heavyweight world champion obtained a court ruling excluding a dozen items from the sale, although Darren Julien, president and CE of the auction house, said he remained confident that those items would also be auctioned at a future date.

A spokesman for Julien said on Saturday that no total figure for the Holyfield auction had been released.

Sapa-AFP