Cotto TKOs ‘Maravilla,’ makes history at Madison Square Garden

Updated: June 10, 2014

Miguel Cotto made history last Saturday by becoming the first Puerto Rican boxer to win a world title in four separate weight-divisions. Cotto, (40-4, 31 KOs), on the eve of New York City’s Puerto Rican day parade, defeated Sergio ‘Maravilla’ Martinez (51-2-3, 28 KOs), to win the WBC middleweight championship in front of 21,000 at Madison Square Garden.

The victory was the biggest win of Cotto’s career, as he cemented his place as one of the greatest Puerto Rican fighters alongside Felix Trinidad, Wilfredo Vazquez, Alexis Arguello, and Hector Macho Camacho. Cotto’s performance against Martinez was perhaps the biggest of his career. 

“This is the biggest achievement of my professional career, Cotto said afterward. “We had the most beautiful camp of my career and I have Freddie Roach to thank for that.”

Since losing back-to-back fights to Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout in 2012, Cotto took time away from boxing to reevaluate his career before returning last year. In October 2013, Cotto, in his first fight with Roach, blitzed Delvin Rodriguez in three rounds.

Cotto then seized the opportunity to challenge ‘Maravilla’ Martinez, the No. 1 middleweight champion of the world, to an epic fight at the Garden. Martinez entered the fight having been sidelined for more than 14 months while recovering from surgeries to his left hand and knees. There was a lot of talk about whether Martinez would be 100% ready and if that were the case, he would give Cotto a boxing lesson.

Martinez insisted that he was at 100% and that he was going to out-box Cotto in a very entertaining fight. Martinez, in recent years, was coming off a successive number of amazing performances against Matthew Mackin, Paul Williams, Darrin Barker, Martin Murray, and Julio Cesar Chavez – all of whom were bigger than Cotto.

The question wasn’t Martinez’ ability, but rather how cooperative was his surgically repaired knees? In the opening round, Martinez was knocked flat on his face in the opening moments of the fight.

“First-round – I just came out and hit him with a hard punch and just covered him,” Cotto said.

Martinez never recovered from the first knockdown, as Cotto dropped Martinez four times in the first round. Cotto blitzed Martinez with a punishing jab and ripped him with combinations to his head and body. Cotto didn’t chance Martinez, but rather cut Martinez off. Once Martinez was close to the ropes, it was vintage Cotto.

When asked about whether he realized something was wrong with Martinez’ knee, Cotto said: “I just maintained myself and kept fighting.”

Martinez admitted that Cotto hurt him badly with a solid punch, and that it was Cotto’s performance, not his bad knee that attributed to the worst performance of his career.

“I got hit with the punch and I was cold and I never recovered from that,” Martinez said. “I tried to do my best and I want to apologize to the Argentine fans and I want to thank all of the Puerto Rican fans for coming out.”

Martinez was very humble and gracious in defeat. Martinez was awaiting a spectacular victory in what would have been a career-defining fight in front of 21,000 at Madison Square Garden against one of the biggest names in the world. Martinez prepared long and hard for such a tremendous opportunity. But the aging and injury-prone Martinez simply didn’t have that spectacular hard-left that KO’d Paul Williams, nor did he have the speed, agility, and velocity that schooled Chavez.

“You’ve got to know when to win and you’ve got to know when to lose and I give all congratulations to Miguel Cotto,” Martinez added.

 Cotto moves on, as will Martinez who may retire. The biggest fight for Cotto right now would be either a rematch with Floyd Mayweather, who announced that he will be fighting again in September. But Cotto announced that he’ll next fight in December, which may put plans for a Mayweather-Cotto 2 on hold. There is also the chance of Cotto vs. ‘Canelo,’ which would be a modern-day Mexican vs. Puerto Rican classic.  ‘Canelo’ would first have to defeat Erisl;andy Lara on July 12th.

PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Farina/Top Rank Boxing


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