|Miguel Cotto and Austin Trout (R) exchange blows in the second round during their Super Welterweight World Championship fight at Madison Square Garden in New York, December 1, 2012. Trout won the 12-round decision. Photo by Ray Stubblebine, Reuters.
NEW YORK - (UPDATE) Austin Trout retained his World Boxing Association junior middleweight world title 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 a first defeat at Madison Square Garden, the landmark New York arena where Cotto had won seven previous bouts.
Judges Steve Weisfeld and John Poturaj saw it 117-111 for Trout while Adelaide Byrd scored it 119-109 for Trout, who improved 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 of the fight saw more intensity from both men. Trout was impressive in the 10th 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 favorite among the crowd of more than 13,000 but even he looked resigned after the final bell.
His face battered, Cotto 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 times. I kept pushing him back to show him he had no advantage."
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 fight, although he lost, "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.
"Hey, Canelo, I want you Canelo," Trout said. "It's time to unify this division. I need that strap off his waist."
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