By Jake Donovan
Jose Miguel Cotto appeared well on his way to an early rout in his first fight in more than a year.
Instead, the older of the fighting Cotto brothers was forced to settle for a near-shutout in a wide decision win over Eric Cruz in their 10-round welterweight bout Saturday evening in Caguas, Puerto Rico.
Scores were 99-89 and 98-90 (twice) in the main event on Telefuturas Solo Boxeo Tecate series.
Cotto showed no signs of ring rust in fighting for the first time since a wide yet competitive points loss to Paul Malignaggi last April in Las Vegas. Two knockdowns came within the first 100 seconds of the fight, as Cruz hit the ground hard after getting nailed with right hands.
To his credit, Cruz cleared his head relatively quickly and offered a spirited affair for the rest of the fight. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to manage more than two rounds on two cards and just one round on the third judge's tally.
Cotto improves to 33-3-1 (24KO) with the win, his first since Nov. '10. The older brother of three-division champ Miguel Cotto had dropped two of his last three heading into the fight, including a May '10 10th round stoppage loss to Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez.
Cruz continues the checkerboard pattern of win-one, lose-one. The journeyman dips to 13-9-3 (13KO) with the loss, having now dropped three of his last five contests dating back to last June.
In the co-feature, Alberto Cruz (9-3-1, 8KO) was matched extremely soft on the heels of his first career loss, dominating Orlando Falcon (0-2) en route to a stoppage at 2:17 of round four.
Unbeaten lightweight Jeffrey Fontanez (6-0, 5KO) was forced to go the distance for the first time in his young career, scoring a four-round decision over Jesse Padilla (2-14-2, 1KO) in their televised swing bout.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to JakeNDaBox@gmail.com
Tags: Jose Miguel Cotto