New York - Puerto Rican champion Miguel Cotto dominated from the opening bell to retain his World Boxing Council middleweight world title with a crushing victory over Australia's Daniel Geale on Saturday.
Cotto knocked down Geale twice in the fourth round before referee Harvey Dock stopped the bout at 1:28 of the fourth in front of a frenzied crowd of 12 100 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Cotto landed a devastating left hook early in the fourth and then finished off the challenger soon after with a series of body shots and a right to the head that sent the Aussie to the canvas for a second time.
Geale got up but was obviously unable to continue and Dock saved him from further punishment.
The 34-year-old Cotto improved to 40-4 with 33 knockouts and the win now sets up a likely showdown with Mexico's Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, possibly later this year.
"Let's do it," Cotto said. "Before that, I want to spend some time with my family and enjoy them again, but then it is back to LA and training for Canelo."
Alvarez scored a third-round knockout of James Kirkland in last month's super welterweight fight.
Cotto, who was fighting for the first time since almost a year ago when he beat Sergio Martinez, wore down Geale with body shots through the first three rounds.
Geale, 34, fell to 31-4 with 16 knockouts. The former world champion suffered his third defeat in his last five fights.
Geale's last foray to New York ended with a third-round knockout loss to hard-hitting Gennady Golovkin at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan in July of last year.
He rebounded with a 12-round decision over Jarrod Fletcher in December.