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Cotto, Pavlik rebound in style from first defeats

MIGUEL Cotto and Kelly Pavlik both notched one-sided victories in title fights on Saturday to bounce back from their first career defeats.

Cotto stopped a fleet-footed Michael Jennings in the fifth round of their scheduled 12-rounder for the vacant World Boxing Organization welterweight title at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The Puerto Rican, who lost his World Boxing Association welterweight title last July to Mexican Antonio Margarito, improved his record to 33-1.

Briton Jennings, knocked to the canvas twice in the fourth and again in the fifth, fell to 34-2.

"When I saw this crowd tonight, it was great to come back into the ring," Cotto said of his Puerto Rican supporters, whose boos drowned out a pre-fight rendition of "God Save the Queen."

Pavlik, who lost his first professional bout to 43-year-old fellow-American Bernard Hopkins when he moved up to fight the veteran last October, retained his World Boxing Council and WBO middleweight crowns against Mexican Marco Antonio Rubio.

Pavlik (35-1) pounded Rubio (43-5-1) for nine rounds before the Mexican decided not to come out for the 10th in front of a roaring crowd in Pavlik's hometown of Youngstown, Ohio.

"There is no place like home," the 26-year-old Pavlik said. "It was a great way to bounce back in my hometown. It was electric. I put the loss behind me.

Pavlik, who earned a guaranteed US$1 million for the fight, has spoken passionately of unifying the middleweight belts. But International Boxing Federation champion Arthur Abraham is already defending his title next month, and WBA champ Felix Sturm is set to fight in April.

Cotto chased Jennings for the first three rounds of their bout before finally getting him in his sights along the ropes at the end of the third and landing some fierce body blows.

The Puerto Rican resumed his stalking in the fourth and knocked his overmatched opponent down twice in the fourth and again toward the end of the fifth with a jolting shot. After being felled by another wicked body shot, Jennings looked toward his corner while on one knee and referee Benji Estevez called an end to the bout at 2:36 of the fifth.

Cotto, 28, now fancies a fight against the winner of the May 2 showdown between Filipino Manny Pacquiao and Briton Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas.


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