NEW YORK --- Miguel Cotto has become one of New York's favorite sporting sons.
The WBA welterweight champion from Puerto Rico will fight at Madison Square Garden for the fourth time on Saturday night. The previous three were during the Puerto Rican Day weekend, and his successful defense of the title last June against Zab Judah sold out the building.
Promoters believe another full house is coming, particularly with an outstanding undercard and a main event in which Cotto faces Shane Mosley, one of boxing's most accomplished fighters of the last decade. The mezzanine level of the Garden was scheduled to be closed for the bout, but now fans can get seats for $50 upstairs -- a relative bargain.
Cotto and Mosley promise that anyone who shows up will think they've spent their money well.
"I've prepared pretty hard in the past 21/2 months to retain my title," Cotto said. "I come in with my title like a champion and I will go back to Puerto Rico with my title."
Mosley, of course, has other plans. Regardless, though, he expects the 12-rounder to be quite a show.
"It's a few days before the battle starts," Mosley said in midweek, "and I'm ready to go. I've been training 21/2-3 months in the gym and sparring with different guys, getting myself sharp and keeping myself active.
"You know it'll be a war in there. I'll do that myself and I know Miguel feels that way. It will be electrifying, fireworks everywhere."
Cotto is 30-0 with 25 knockouts, but he's not as well-known as Mosley for several reasons. Cotto hasn't fought nearly as many prominent opponents as Mosley, who made his pro debut in 1993, eight years before Cotto came on the scene. He's not American, so the hype machine hasn't been as loud. And he doesn't have a sweet nickname like Mosley's "Sugar."
What Cotto does have is tremendous punching power, stamina and heart. He gets hit, he gets hurt, but he keeps coming -- especially with shot to the body.
"I've got to tell you, it's the best way you can put pressure on your opponent," Cotto said. "You can make them weaker than you and that's the way Miguel Cotto fights."
Mosley (44-4, 37 knockouts) respects that. At 36, he understands that the 27-year-old Cotto won't be backing down.
"Cotto is a young, strong and hungry world champion," Mosley said.
Which is what Mosley once was. He has held four world titles, including the IBF lightweight and WBC welterweight crowns. He made his biggest splash by twice outpointing Oscar De La Hoya, now his promoter. He also has a pair of wins over Fernando Vargas.
The undercard on HBO pay-per-view has a WBC lightweight interim title bout between Cuban Joel Casamayor (34-3-1, 21 KOs) and Californian Jose Armando Santa-Cruz (25-2, 14 KOs). Also on the card is a 12-round welterweight between former champ Antonio Margarito of Mexico and Golden Johnson of San Antonio.