This time, it's Cooney who looks a little tentative leaving his corner. And Mercado pounces.
Mercado hooks the hooker, wobbling Cooney and driving him to an unfamiliar position against the ropes. He waves Mercado in, and the sudden aggressor is eager to oblige the macho gesture.
Mercado lands an overhand right, then a right uppercut, then a vicious left to the ribs that sends a staggering Cooney into his opponent's corner, his back nearly turned.
Mercado lands a hard cross to Cooney's exposed side, then a crisp jab to the chin after a desperation left by the wounded fighter misses.
Mercante moves in and starts looking closely at Cooney, as a growing segment of a crowd that had been stunned into silence begins to roar in anticipation of an enormous upset.
But as Mercado pursues his prey along the ropes, Cooney sets himself and slams home his trademark left hook. Now on unsteady legs, Mercado flails wildly with a few punches before the bell ...