The fighters charge from their corners and meet at ring center, where Cooney throws a right to the body that backs up Mercado.
Cooney drives the Colombian into the corner with a left jab-right cross combo and when Cooney wobbles his target with a left hook to the side of the head, it looks like the Norton slaughter all over again.
After escaping the corner, Mercado -- still along the ropes -- takes a jab to the body, then another to the head before clinching.
After Arthur Mercante separates the pair, Cooney misses with a jab and grabs Mercado, forcing the veteran ref to intercede again.
After making him miss another jab, Mercado connects with a thunderous uppercut that wobbles and nearly drops Cooney. Forced into reverse for the first time anyone can remember, Cooney looks lost as Mercado feints a body shot with the left, then redirects a hook to the jaw.
Wide-eyed as Mercado charges in, Cooney grabs him around the shoulder and swings him like a dance partner into a neutral corner.
Moments after nearly going down himself, Cooney misses with the hook but unloads a short, straight right to Mercado's jaw, the collision costing the Colombian his equilibrium.
Mercado rises at three, but is still struggling to steady himself when the bell rings just as Cooney begins marching purposefully toward his wounded opponent. Mercante jumps in and redirects Cooney to his corner as Mercado staggers toward his ...