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Miguel Cotto knocks out Daniel Gaele at Barclays Center

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Miguel Cotto stands over Daniel Geale as he struggles to stand back up before the referee waves off the fight, declaring Cotto the winner.Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield

Miguel Cotto stands over Daniel Geale as he struggles to stand back up before the referee waves off the fight, declaring Cotto the winner.

Miguel Cotto was in a tough position when it was announced he would take on Daniel Geale.

Last July, the middleweight knockout artist Gennady Golovkin destroyed Geale in three rounds in yet another dazzling performance at Madison Square Garden.

In taking on Geale following Golovkin’s demolition on Saturday, the pressure was on Cotto to equal that performance.

Cotto was even mocked beforehand for making the bout with Geale at a catchweight of 157 pounds instead of the middleweight limit of 160 pounds.

Well, Cotto matched the devastation that Golovkin displayed and may have even bettered it.

Cotto punished Geale on Saturday, dropping him twice with devastating left hooks and causing Geale to shake his head in resignation and quit at 1:28 of the fourth round when he was asked by the referee, Harvey Dock, if he wanted to continue.

Cotto retained his WBC middleweight title before an announced crowd of 12,157 at Barclays Center.

While Golovkin is a logical next step for Cotto (40-4, 33 knockouts) since he is Cotto’s mandatory for his WBC title. Cotto will now likely face Saul (Canelo) Alvarez in the fall on HBO pay-per-view. “Canelo would just be another fight,” Cotto said in the ring. “If the people want that fight to happen, it will happen.”

When he was asked about facing Golovkin, Cotto paused: “Why not?” Cotto said. “After the Canelo fight then we’ll see.”

Michael Yormark, president of Roc Nation, which promotes Cotto, said that deal points were already in place for the bout to happen. “It’s the fight everyone wants to see,” Yormark said. “It’s the fight we’re going to make. We’ve got the framework of a deal done. Obviously we had to wait until tonight, but now we can focus on Miguel’s next fight and we’re looking forward to it.”

Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins sat ringside on Saturday, representing the business interests of their fighter, Alvarez.

“Very impressive,” De La Hoya said afterward. “He took him out (more violently) than Golovkin. (Cotto vs. Alvarez is) the biggest fight after Pacquiao and Mayweather. The biggest thing is that you’re guaranteed action.”

That’s what Cotto delivers.

After feeling out the larger Geale in the opening rounds and working the body — Geale tipped the scales at 182 pounds on the HBO scales in the hours before the fight fully clothed — Cotto unleashed a wicked left hook that landed flush on Geale’s chin in the fourth round.

Geale (31-4, 16 knockouts) rose but he was on shaky legs. Moments later, Cotto hurt him with a right hand. Cotto then dropped him again with another clubbing left. Geale bounced back up but he was wobbly and he was hurt even worse. When Dock asked him if he wanted to continue, Geale shook his head, no, and the referee waved the bout off. The ending was reminiscent of the way Geale’s bout with Golovkin ended last July when he quit in similar fashion on his feet after he rose from a knockdown in the third round.

Geale was so out of it he had to ask his trainers how many rounds the fight went, according to a public relations official.

“After the first round I knew that I needed to get more aggressive,” Cotto said afterward. “I tried to do my best and I tried very hard. The first knockdown I was going to throw the left hand. As I threw it, he put his right hand down and boom.”

Cotto last fought on June 7 of last year when he pummeled Sergio Martinez to wrest away the WBC middleweight title, making him the first boxer of Puerto Rican origin to win a title in four different weight divisions.

He obviously didn’t show any rust.

Speedbag: Junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia will likely take on Brooklyn’s Paulie Malignaggi at Barclays Center on Aug. 1 in another edition of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions series on ESPN, a source confirmed to the Daily News. Middleweight titlist Danny Jacobs is also scheduled to be on the card.

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