CAROLINA CRISIS: THIS IS BIGGER THAN YOU By Michael...
‘Maravilla’ Martinez to defend WBC title against Cotto at MSG
Sergio ‘Maravilla’ Martinez is the class of the middleweight division. Martinez has been recognized as the No. 1 middleweight champion in the world for the last several years, as his performances have been highly-dramatic, breathtaking, and amazing. Martinez has won big fights in big spots in some of the biggest venues in boxing, but throughout his career, THE BIG ONE has eluded him.
At age 39, the chance for Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs) to put the exclamation mark on an incredible career with a career-defining victory will come on Saturday, June 7, at Madison Square Garden in New York when he defends his WBC middleweight championship against Miguel Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs) on HBO Pay-Per-View.
“It has been my dream to fight in the big room at Madison Square Garden, a place where many great fighters have showcased their talents,” Martinez reportedly said. “It is the biggest stage in the world and the world will be watching.”
Should Cotto win, he will become the first Puerto Rican to win a world title in four separate weight divisions as a professional.
“I am happy to be back in my second home, Madison Square Garden in New York to once again make history in front of my fans,” Cotto said.
Both fighters have reportedly agreed to a catch-weight of no more than 159 pounds, which is a concession to the smaller Cotto, who never fought about the 154 pound-weight division. Martinez has made a career out of fighting naturally bigger men and bigger punchers than Cotto. Martinez’ best wins were against Julio Cesar Chavez, Paul Williams, Kelly Pavlik, Matthew Macklin, Sergui Dzinziruk, and Darrin Barker.
Martinez is one of the best boxers in the world, but has proven to be increasingly vulnerable in recent years. By the time Martinez fights Cotto, he would have been sidelined for more than 14 months following surgeries to his knee. Martinez also suffered from hand and shoulder injuries. It appears as though his body is breaking down, as he has been knocked down multiple times in recent fights.
Many believe that Martinez win against Martin Murray in front of more than 50,000 in a soccer stadium in Argentina was a ‘gift.’ While, Martinez has been sidelined by injury, Cotto made one appearance in 2013 under new trainer Freddie Roach. Cotto, inside three rounds, blitzed Delvin Rodriguez. Cotto looked sharp in scoring his first knockout victory since his rematch with Antonio Margarito was stopped in the eleventh round in December 2012.
Cotto revitalized his career by looking spectacular in front of a packed house last October in Orlando, FL with millions more watching at home on HBO. But is it enough for the boxing community to be convinced that Cotto is truly back and that he can topple Martinez for his title?
It’s difficult to say since Martinez hasn’t been seen in what will be 14 months by the time the two fighters tangle in June. How much ring rust will Martinez have? Has his injuries fully healed, is he at 100%? Does Martinez have one more great fight left within? Remember he is 39 and his injuries have increasingly become an issue.
Cotto may be the fresher of the two boxers, but he will be fighting for the first time in a weight class that he hasn’t fought in. The last time Cotto fought southpaws, Austin Trout out-boxed him easily at the Garden in 2012. In 2009, Cotto was knocked out by Manny Pacquiao in eleven rounds. In May 2012, Cotto gave Floyd Mayweather the toughest fight of his career in many years. Cotto found holes in Mayweather’s defense and was breaking him down a little, but lost a unanimous decision.
While some may believe that Cotto will have an edge (primarily because he’s healthy), people must remember that Martinez will be close to 170 pounds by the time the two fighters step inside the ring. Cotto may be too small for Martinez, who is expected to be in the very best shape of his career for the biggest fight of his life.