Boxing

Cotto stops Rodriguez in junior middleweight bout

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ORLANDO, Florida (AP)

Puerto Rican boxer Miguel Cotto stopped Delvin Rodriguez in the third round on Saturday in his comeback fight after dropping his last two bouts last year.

Cotto, a former three-division champion, improved to 38-4 with his 31st knockout in the junior middleweight bout, getting out to a quick start in his first fight since losing unanimous decisions to Austin Trout and Floyd Mayweather Jr. last year.

''It feels good to win and be able to do it in front of a wonderful crowd,'' Cotto said. ''I thought I hit him with some good shots early and I was able to get the stop.''

Cotto attacked Rodriguez from the sound of the bell, going after him with left hooks to the body. Near the end of the second round, Cotto landed a strong combination, finishing with a left hook to the head that staggered Rodriguez.

Cotto finished off his opponent with a flurry of head shots that put Rodriguez to the canvas and referee Frank Santore Jr. stopped the bout 18 seconds into the third round.

Rodriguez, who dropped to 28-7-3, said the stoppage came too early, but complimented Cotto on his performance.

''The referee really never gave me a chance to get up and show that I could fight back,'' Rodriguez said. ''But Miguel showed me his power in the second round and I'm just going to have to regroup.''

It was Cotto's first fight with new trainer Freddie Roach. The 32-year-old landed 55 of 110 of punches and 47 power punches, with over half of those landing to the body.

''All of the work that we put in over the last month really showed tonight,'' Cotto said.

Cotto ended a two-fight losing streak to possibly set up a bout with Canelo Alvarez, the Mexican fighter who lost a majority decision to Mayweather last month.

Cotto dropped a piece of the 154-pound (70-kilogram) title to Mayweather in their bout last May.

''Miguel told me that if he were in the shape that he's in right now he would have won that fight,'' Roach said. ''So I'm sure he would definitely welcome a rematch.''

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