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Cotto will take on Margarito in July

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Despite Floyd Mayweather's reluctance to meet the other top welterweights, boxing's deepest division will produce a megafight after all.

That will come in late July when undefeated WBA champion Miguel Cotto takes on new IBF champ Antonio Margarito, probably on the 26th and likely here at Boardwalk Hall or in Madison Square Garden in New York.

Promoter Bob Arum ruled out any other venues, including Las Vegas, on Saturday night after Cotto destroyed outmanned Alfonso Gomez, stopping him after five lopsided rounds. Earlier, Margarito took apart Kermit Cintron to take away his belt, handing Cintron only his second loss as a pro. The other, not coincidentally, was to Margarito three years ago.

So while Mayweather might be the biggest name in the sport these days, he can continue looking for bigger money fights (a rematch with Oscar De La Hoya, perhaps?). Cotto and Margarito have each other on their agendas in another Puerto Rico-Mexico matchup; both fights Saturday night featured the same.

"They both want the fight," Arum said. "So that's the plan, for them to get in there together."

Surprisingly, Margarito had just as easy a time against Cintron as Cotto did with Gomez. After all, Cintron owned the title and had won five straight knockouts since the April 23, 2005, loss to Margarito. Gomez's credentials and 18-3-2 record were far more modest, and it was clear almost immediately he stood no chance against the relentless Cotto.

Both the 30-year-old Margarito and the 27-year-old Cotto pitched near shutouts,

"I don't think he was ready to fight me," said Margarito, the former WBO champ who now is 36-5 with 26 knockouts after stopping Cintron in the sixth round. "His mistake was coming to fight.

"After you take a beating like he did the first time, it has to be in your mind and I think it was there."

Margarito lost his WBO belt last summer when Paul Williams outpointed him. He said he "learned a lot" from that loss, and he can bring much of that knowledge into the ring against Cotto.

After making Gomez his 32nd straight victim, 26 by knockouts, the popular Puerto Rican star shrugged when asked about a meeting with Margarito — just as he has shrugged whenever Mayweather's name is mentioned.

"I'm not chasing anyone," Cotto said. "I am always prepared to do my fight. I'm just doing my work."

Three days before the bout, Gomez questioned whether Cotto was taking their fight seriously, or if Cotto perhaps was underestimating Gomez. But Cotto was so dominant from the first bell that his opening flurry turned Gomez's face red. By the end of the first round, his face was swollen from a barrage of sharp jabs and crushing rights.

That the fight lasted five rounds might be more because Cotto was eager to get in some work; he looked like he could end it at any time.

That isn't likely to be the case with the cagey and equally indefatigable Margarito.

"I will be ready," Margarito promised. "I think the gym is where you win the fights."