3 More Rounds

Cotto vs. Martinez: A Fight Fan’s Dream

Photos: Chris Farina / Top Rank

Photos: Chris Farina / Top Rank

What sells a fight? Opinions will differ depending on whom you ask. Some are attracted to big name stars, other prefer to watch a showcase consisting of younger fighters just coming into their prime, and some just don’t  care who’s in the ring, as long as they get a hell of a show. And yet, there is one component to a fight that seems to capture the attention of every kind of fan, and component is intrigue. The chance to see two well known stars face off for the very first time brings a level of intrigue to a boxing match that captures the public’s attention, and leaves them content knowing that the usual “what if” water-cooler conversations that usually surround the sport are going to be turned into an actual reality. And if you’ve paid attention to the spectacular careers of Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez over the years, you’ll understand why this fight means so much to fight fans, and why it’s going to sell.

On June 7th, Puerto Rican native Miguel Cotto (38-4, 31 KO’s) and WBC Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KO’s) will square off at Madison Square Garden in New York City for Martinez’s championship. This will be Cotto’s first fight at middleweight, and many are wondering if Cotto will be able to contend with the bigger and stronger Argentinean.

Cotto_Martinez_PR pc_140310_009aAt 39 years old, south paw Sergio Martinez is clearly in the twilight of his illustrious career. However, despite his advanced age (for a pugilist at least), Martinez has gotten up off the canvas in his last three fights to comeback and claim victory. In March of 2012, Martinez stopped Matthew Macklin (30-5, 20 KO’s) in the eleventh round of a tougher than expected bout. Then in September of 2012, Martinez had a high profile bout with “The Son of the Legend” Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (48-1-1, 32 KO’s) in Las Vegas. During the course of the fight, Martinez seemed to have the fight well under control heading into the last round. However, the final round of the fight saw Jr. display the kind of heart that his father was famously known for by dropping Martinez half way through the round. Despite the late knockdown, however, Martinez weather the storm, and won a unanimous decision. Martinez then defended his title in Buenos Aires in April of 2013 against England’s Martin Murray (26-1-1, 11 KO’s).  Martinez went on to win a controversial unanimous decision victory, despite many believing that Murray had done enough to secure victory.

Following surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right knee, a result of the fight with Chavez, Martinez re-injured the same knee in his fight with Murray. And during a recent press conference promoting the fight against Cotto, Cotto stated “I hope that Sergio is 100 percent and his knee is fine, because I want no excuses after I defeat him.”

While Miguel Cotto has had some hard luck as of late against top star Floyd Mayweather, and the significantly lesser known Austin Trouth, Cotto has recently bounced back with the help of world renowned trainer Freddie Roach. Under Roach’s tutelage, Cotto’s most recent fight against Delvin Rodriquez in October of last year was stopped in spectacular fashion when Cotto landed his infamous left hook, followed by a flurry of punches that put Rodriquez down and out in the third round. Many found Cotto’s performance that night to be inspiring, as Cotto appeared to fight like the Cotto old, who dominated opponents at junior welterweight and welterweight with his ferocious left hook. Indeed, it appeared as though, even if for one night only, Miguel Cotto had turned back the clock on his remarkable career.

And now, Cotto will move up to 160 lbs. in an attempt to become the first Puerto Rican fighter in history to win a fourth title in a fourth weight class when he meets Martinez at the world’s most famous arena, which will no doubt see the overwhelming majority of fans in attendance rooting for the Puerto Rican superstar.

The role of Madison Square Garden holds important significance for Cotto, who considers New York his home away from home. Cotto holds a record of 9-1 at The Garden, and many of those career-defining fights for 33-year old star. Foes such as Shane Mosley, Paulie Malignaggi, Zab Judah, and Antonio Margarito have all fallen to Cotto on his home turf. However, it would appear that Sergio Martinez plans on spoiling Cotto’s homecoming when the two finally meet on fight night, regardless of Cotto’s rabid fan base or the Hall of Fame Trainer he’ll have in his corner on June 7th. During the recent press conference to promote the bout, Martinez stated “Puerto Rico has a rich boxing history and I am looking forward to fighting and beating one of their best. I will prepare to give the fans a great night of boxing and because of our styles this will be a great fight.”

Cotto_Martinez_PR pc_140310_010aAnd as if the talent of both fighters alone wasn’t enough to spark you’re interest, there also appears to be a bit of bad blood between the two as well. As the story goes, Martinez and Cotto had an encounter at a television studio in Mexico back in 2008 that did not go well. According to Martinez’s account of the incident, Cotto blew him off, and was disrespectful to the employees of the station. The incident appeared to rub off on Martinez, who was a self-professed Cotto fan, at least up to that particular point. Martinez stated “It bothered me because he is not better than everyone else, I didn’t like the way he behaved. I didn’t like his demeanor. If it was just with me, I could understand it. I’m his rival. But it was the way he behaved with everybody.” When asked if he recalled this particular incident, Cotto simply stated “No, but if that is his motivation, good for him.”

So what will be the outcome when all is said and done on June 7th? Despite his smaller stature, many are picking Miguel Cotto to dethrone the middleweight king. Many view Martinez as an injured fighter with a bad knee and a bad wrist, who has acquired far too much damage during his career to defeat a younger opponent in front of his hometown fans. At age 39, what does Sergio have left? Or more importantly, what does he have left to prove? And yet, a victory for Martinez could mean millions in terms of the potential for future fights against rising stars like Andre Ward, Gennady Golovkin, or even a rematch against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. On the other hand, a loss will most certainly force Martinez to hang up his gloves and call it a day.

A win for Miguel Cotto will cement his legacy as one of the all time great Puerto Rican pugilists, and give him bragging rights as a winner of four titles in four different weight classes that no other Puerto Rican fighter in history can lay claim to. Regardless of the betting line, however, Cotto must remain cautious. He is the smaller man in this fight, and Martinez has proven that his punching power can be devastating. The memory of Paul Williams lying lifeless on the canvas after eating an over-the-top left hand from Martinez during their rematch in November of 2010 should be enough to make Cotto think twice before attempting to engage in a phone booth-style brawl with the WBC champion.

Regardless of the outcome, however, this fight will be brutal for as long as it lasts. Both Cotto and Martinez have proven time and time again that not only do they both possess superb pure boxing ability, but that that they are willing to engage in a blood and guts brawl face to face as well.

The real winners of this fight will, undoubtedly, be the fans. This is the kind of attraction the sport needs, this is the kind of fight that people want, and this is the kind of fight that will sell. This fight will satisfy every aspect of the sport that fight fans desire, excluding Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather. Hopefully the experts and the fans won’t be let down.

One Comment

  1. Vino Rocha

    April 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    I’m not a big Sergio fan. In fact, he lost his last fight but got home cooking.
    I believe Cotto will find that Sergio is much stronger & bigger than him come fight night. Sergio will overwhelm him. Cotto’s body shots will be expected and Martinez will have plenty of time to counter them or somehow negate them. I don’t see Cotto winning this one.

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