On Saturday, June 7, 2014, Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez (51-2, 28 KOs) will defend his WBC Middleweight title against Miguel Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs) live from Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The bout–which will be aired on HBO pay-per-view–will be fought at a catch weight of 159 pounds and marks the first time that Cotto will be fighting above the 154-pound limit.
Martinez–who is being stalked by legitimate Middleweight contender and WBA Champion Gennady Golovkin–opted to face Cotto in a more lucrative and less dangerous fight.
This will be Martinez’s first fight since April of 2013 when he defended his crown in his home country of Argentina against England’s Martin Murray.
In that fight, Martinez looked vulnerable and suffered a knockdown in Round 8. Many people–including Cotto’s trainer Freddie Roach–now believe that Martinez is on his last leg and ready to be dethroned.
Cotto on the other hand is coming off of a dominant third-round knockout victory over Delvin Rodriguez. That fight was undoubtedly a showcase fight for Cotto to look good in, after having suffered back-to-back losses.
It was Cotto’s first fight with Roach in his corner and the dominant nature of his victory has given birth to the notion that Cotto can take on anyone from 154 to 160 pounds.
Will Martinez be able to score a dominating victory and set himself up for another big money fight before the end of the year or will Cotto make history by becoming the first Puerto Rican fighter to win four title in four different weight classes?
Scroll through as we take an in-depth look at Sergio Martinez’s highly-anticipated midyear matchup against Miguel Cotto.
Photo by Richard Smith
Main Event: Miguel Cotto vs. Sergio Martinez; 12 rounds for Martinez’s WBC and Ring Middleweight Championship (159-pound catchweight)
Where: Madison Square Garden
When: June 7, 2014
TV: HBO pay-per-view
Photo edit by John Garita/Round By Round Boxing
|From Boxrec||Miguel Cotto||Sergio Martinez|
|Record||38-4, 31 KO||51-2-2, 28 KO|
|Weight||154 (Last Fight)||160 (Last Fight)|
|Hometown||Caguas, Puerto Rico||Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|Last Fight||TKO 3 Delvin Rodriguez (10/5/2013)||UD 12 Martin Murray (4/27/2013)|
What You Need to Know
Photo by Gene Blevins/Top Rank
After his decisive victory against over-matched Delvin Rodriguez back in October of 2013, Miguel Cotto became a boxing darling in the eyes of Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions.
Both companies courted the free-agent Cotto in hopes of setting up a major money fight under their banner.
Golden Boy offered their main attraction—Saul “Canelo” Alvarez—and over $10 million to tango in March, but ultimately Cotto went with Top Rank and a fight against Lou DiBella’s cash cow, Sergio Martinez.
Cotto has repeatedly stated that the allure of a title belt in a fourth weight class is what drove him to select a matchup against Martinez.
“The idea of being the first Puerto Rican champion in four different divisions made me put Canelo on standby and then go for Martinez” (per RingTV.com).
The Caguas native is certainly riding a wave of momentum with new trainer Freddie Roach. After his victory over Rodriguez, a number of fans proclaimed that Cotto was “back” after losing consecutive fights to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Austin Trout.
The knockout of Rodriguez displayed that Cotto is still disciplined and hungry to fight, but it did nothing to show us what he can do against a top contender.
Martinez is the undisputed Middleweight champion and a giant step up in competition.
A win over the legitimate Middleweight king will propel Cotto back into the upper echelon of boxing and leave the door open for any fight of his choosing.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
Despite Gennady Golovkin’s recent tear through the division, Sergio Martinez is still the undisputed Middleweight champion of the world. Unfortunately for Maravilla, his reign in the division seems to be coming to an end.
One factor signaling the changing of the guard is Martinez’s recent string of injuries. Simply put, his body can no longer keep up.
He is 39-years-old and will likely be looking to close out his career in impressive fashion in late 2014 or early 2015–with money being a dominant factor in any fight he chooses.
First on Martinez’s agenda is Miguel Cotto. This is a “padding the stats” type of fight because while it is appealing to fans–given the marquee name opponent–it does not do much for Martinez’s legacy.
Cotto is moving up in weight to challenge Martinez–with a one-pound catch weight–but in all honesty, what has the smaller Cotto done to deserve a shot at the legitimate Middleweight crown?
This bout has one purpose; convince the boxing world that Martinez is just as good as ever.
Boxing Scene recently quoted Pablo Sarmiento—Martinez’s trainer—responding to critics who think Maravilla is a finished fighter.
“To say that Martinez is finished is a big lie. Sergio is fine and his recovery has been good.”
If Martinez can prove this against Cotto with a decisive victory, perhaps a possible unification bout with Golovkin will indeed materialize.
We can’t blame Martinez for trying to get the most financially lucrative fights available, even if they aren’t the most challenging. But, at the same time, Martinez can not blame the fans for wanting him to face legitimate Middleweight opposition–namely Golovkin.
Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank
In recent fights–against Floyd Mayweather Jr., Austin Trout and Delvin Rodriguez–Cotto did not do a very good job of using his jab.
According to CompuBox stats, Cotto landed a measly 17 percent against Mayweather and Trout–30 of 177 against Mayweather and 29 of 175 against Trout–while against Rodriguez he landed 21 percent–9 of 42.
Because Sergio Martinez holds a six inch reach advantage, don’t expect Cotto to surprise you by establishing any type of jab to kick start his attack.
While Cotto does a decent job of boxing while backing up, he has found himself in trouble against the ropes against Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito and Floyd Mayweather Jr.–to name a few.
Cotto is at his best when he can close the gap against his opponents and land hooks and uppercuts with murderous intent.
Photo by Steve Marcus/Reuters
Pablo Sarmiento is confident of his fighters boxing ability. In fact, he told Boxing Scene that Martinez will give Cotto “a boxing lesson” come June 7.
Martinez loves to use the jab, as evidenced by the punch stats he piled up against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. In that fight, Maravilla threw over 500 jabs in 12 rounds.
Martinez holds a six inch reach advantage so he should be able to dictate the pace of the fight with jabs and his thudding straight left.
We’ll know just how comfortable Martinez is early on in the fight if he starts to drops his hands and leads with the straight left.
If he doesn’t already know, Cotto will find out quickly that Martinez cannot be corned as easily as Rodriguez. Martinez is quick, crafty and counters really well.
If Cotto gets lazy and reaches with any punches, look for Martinez to swiftly counter him and possibly even put him on the canvas.
Without a doubt, Martinez is the better boxer and has the tools, top-to-bottom, to give Cotto fits.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Miguel Cotto has won 31 of 38 fights by way of knockout. He has never been a one-punch knockout artist, instead he methodically breaks down his opponents with punishing body work.
Most of those KO’s came at Jr. Welterweight and Welterweight, so Middleweight will be a whole new ball game.
In Cotto’s third-round destruction of Delvin Rodriguez last October, he landed an impressive 47 of 87 power punches.
Cotto didn’t bother with much defense as Rodriguez had nothing in his arsenal to gain his respect. This is why claiming Cotto is “back” based off of that fight is so misleading.
Cotto was indeed a machine in that fight, but against Martinez he is fighting at a higher weight and facing someone with just as much, if not more power.
Sergio Martinez is not afraid to let the leather fly. In most of his fights, he’s either knocking his opponent down, getting knocked down or both.
With 28 of his 51 wins coming by way of knockout, Martinez has imposed his power on larger men than Cotto throughout his career.
The most devastating of those knockouts is certainly the highlight reel destruction of Paul Williams in their rematch.
If Martinez’s mission is to announce his return in triumphant fashion, he may seek a knockout early on, especially if he finds Cotto an easy target.
While Cotto holds a significant edge in knockout percentage, Martinez’s power and precision punching is just as impressive. At 159 pounds, we have to assume that Martinez holds a slight edge in power. Until fight night rolls around, we just won’t know what kind of power Cotto is bringing to the table.
Photo by Will Hart/HBO
Freddie Roach is the latest in a long line of trainers to work with Miguel Cotto. From what we saw in October against Delvin Rodriguez, it looks as though Roach has Cotto focusing on being an offensive stalker who punishes the body–like the younger version of Cotto did.
Cotto was a different fighter with Pedro Diaz and likely at his best defensively. He wasn’t as offensive minded, but according to CompuBox, Floyd Mayweather only landed 26 percent of his punches against Cotto, while Austin Trout landed 31 percent.
The problem is that Cotto will not be trained by Diaz for this fight.
We know that fighters trained by Roach–including Manny Pacquiao and Julio Cesar Chavez–often times disregard defense and if that’s the case for Cotto, it will be a problem against Martinez.
In the past, Cotto has been hit cleanly by southpaw fighters DeMarcus Corley and Zab Judah. Corley timed Cotto as he came in and exploded with a vicious right hook, wobbling Cotto.
Martinez is more than capable of doing the same thing, but if he lands a flush punch it could be lights out.
Even though Cotto keeps his guard high and tight, punches seem to find there way through because of his lack of head movement.
Cotto has been staggered and knocked down a fair amount of times in his career so it will be interesting to see how he takes Martinez’s power and what–if anything–he does differently to sure up his defense.
Photo by Julie Jacobson/AP
According to legend, Sergio Martinez learned his fight style from his uncle Ruben Paniagua (per El Diario Popular). Martinez is quick and athletic and according to his uncle, one of the first things he tried to teach his nephew was to hit and not get hit back.
Though he has excelled throughout using his uncles lessons, Martinez is no stranger to being knocked down. What set’s him apart from many other fighters is that he can get up from a seemingly devastating knockdown and still win.
Martinez relies heavily on his reflexes and once he’s in a grove he maneuvers around the ring with both hands held low, picking his opponent apart with precise shots.
Often times, quickness and reflexes are the first thing to deteriorate in an aging fighter, so it remains to be seen if Cotto finds Martinez to be an easy target.
Even though Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. didn’t have much success catching Martinez for most of their 12-round bout, he did find some openings in the later rounds when Martinez spent more time against the ropes.
The success Cotto ends up having may depend heavily on what type of condition Martinez is in. If Maravilla doesn’t move and use the entire ring, Cotto will have a good chance to land punishing body blows.
Even. Both men can be hit, hurt and knocked down. If we were sure that Martinez was 100 percent healthy, he would get the close nod here. But because he is 39 years old and his reflexes might have diminished a bit, there may be more lapses in his defense than we’re used to seeing. Cotto would be wise to be keep his guard high and tight and utilize good head movement, but it remains to be seen if Freddie Roach focuses on that.
Miguel Cotto will need to be in search-and-destroy mode against Sergio Martinez. Because this is an orthodox versus southpaw matchup, the subtleties are extremely important.
In other words, Cotto can’t just chase Martinez while winging power shots from afar because he’ll get countered mercilessly and possibly even knocked out.
Cotto has to try to keep his front foot on the outside of Martinez’s and be in position to throw stiff combinations.
If Cotto ends up backing up and finds himself on the ropes, rest assured the fight won’t last long and Cotto’s foray into the Middleweight division will be over just as quickly as it started.
Although Freddie Roach has said that he thinks Martinez is an old man (per Boxing News 24), Cotto better not buy into the hype. Martinez is quick and has the power to hurt legitimate 160-pound fighters, let alone a blown up Jr. Middleweight.
Cotto’s plan must be to use effective aggression. He must use head movement when he’s coming forward and even if he doesn’t normally rely on the jab, he should at least humor Martinez by throwing it.
If Cotto is able to get a quick start–like he did against Rodriguez–and make Martinez feel his power, he can set the tone for the night.
Photo by Emily Harney/Fightwireimages.com
Sergio Martinez wants to use his quickness and reflexes to dominate this fight. He will rely on his jab and six inch reach advantage to keep Cotto on the outside and frustrate him.
Because Cotto is naturally smaller, it would be shocking to see him muscle Martinez, but regardless Maravilla must be prepared for a rugged fight.
If Cotto gets frustrated by the distance Martinez can maintain, he may force punches from longer range. This will allow Martinez the opportunity to counter and sting Cotto with precision.
If Martinez is able to penetrate Cotto’s guard early, the effects will be painted on Cotto’s face as he tends to bruise and swell easily.
Because he’s looking to put on a dominating performance, Martinez will certainly be looking for any opening to pounce on Cotto.
Although Martinez is the champion and should therefore get the benefit of the doubt in any close rounds, Madison Square Garden is in essence Cotto’s backyard. If this fight is close down the stretch, Martinez must make sure to close out rounds in convincing fashion.
Photo by AP
Sergio Martinez is looking to put on a convincing performance to silence any critics who think he’s washed up.
He possesses a few key advantages over Cotto including power and reach and will likely go into this bout the favorite.
Miguel Cotto is looking to prove that his last win over Delvin Rodriguez is a sign of his resurgence alongside Freddie Roach.
Obviously, Roach and Cotto believe the 160-pound title is ripe for the taking because of Martinez’s recent performances and injuries. But even so, Cotto must know that he will have to turn in the best performance of his career to wrestle the green belt away from Maravilla.
A lot is being made of Cotto’s attempt at a fourth title in a fourth weight class. But, if you look at his career, the fact is that he’s only defeated one reigning champion–Yuri Foreman–at Jr. Middleweight. Every other title Cotto has won in his career has been vacant.
I don’t believe that statistic will change come June 7. As long as Martinez is in good health, he should defeat Cotto in a one-sided beat down.