Saturday night at a packed Madison Square Garden in New York, WBA Welterweight Champion Miguel Cotto tangled with former 140 and 147 lb champion Zab Judah and held onto his title with a hard fought 11th round stoppage victory.
It was unquestionably the hardest fight of Cotto's career and there were several times where the Puerto Rican star was put into deep water by Judah but ultimately Cotto proved to be more durable man in a withering, bloody affair full of dramatic turns of fortune.
Judah nearly hit the jackpot in round one when he nailed Cotto flush with a southpaw left uppercut that had the champion reeling. As Judah tried to improve upon his work, Cotto landed a hard left to the body that was likely low and Judah was down on the canvas as a result but given the nature of the blow, no knockdown was assessed.
Judah again shook Cotto at the end of the second with a left, this time on the chin, but could not finish his rival. Another low blow from Cotto had Judah on the canvas again but this time the WBA titlist had a point taken away for the infraction.
Both men began to show signs of damage that went along with the frantic pace of the bout as they were each cut in the fourth round.
The middle rounds saw success from both combatants with Cotto's short punches mingling with the largely outside work of the quicker Judah.
By the ninth, Cotto's pressure began to tell on Judah as the New Yorker took a knee to keep his antagonist from winning the fight right then and there.
Cotto was unable to put Judah away and soon found himself on the defensive when Zab found a sudden burst of energy.
In the eleventh, Cotto battered Judah in the corner and canvased the former champion with a full blooded right hand. Judah beat referee's Arthur Mercante Jr's count but was judged to be in no condition to continue.
Miguel Cotto improves to 30-0 (25) while retaining the WBA Welterweight crown for the second time.
Zab Judah drops to 34-5 (25), suffering three of those losses in his last four bouts during world title contests.