By Jackie Kallen
This weekend will be an east coast party. Madison Square Garden will be filled with boxing fans cheering for either Martinez or Cotto. In either case, the crowd will be loud, boisterous, and hungry for a knockout.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Cotto, who hails proudly from Puerto Rico, will have the largest cheering section. Being born in Providence, RI, he has a stong local following in the northeast. And New York’s large Puerto Rican population will be out in record numbers. A beautiful June night in the Big Apple is perfect for boxing. It is also the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Cotto has had a colorful career. He’s only 33 years old and he’s been in with the elite names in the sport. His resume includes Floyd Mayweather, jr., Austin Trout, Antonio Margarito, Ricardo Mayorga and Manny Pacquiao. He’s held several world title belts in different weight classes and has always been a fan favorite.
Of late, he has faltered a bit. His May 2012 fight against Mayweather wasn’t even close. He got totally out-boxed and lost a unanimous decision. He came back seven months later to face Austin Trout and lost a UD again. He took almost a year off before fighting Delvin Rodriguez last November and scoring a 3rd round TKO.
Despite the fact that he is the challenger for Martinez’s WBC Middleweight title, most fans consider Cotto the top man in this fight. Having Freddie Roach as his current trainer hasn’t hurt either. They appear to be a rock-solid team with no doubts and a ton of confidence.
Martinez, who has been vocal in his dislike of Cotto and Cotto’s “A” position in this fight, is all business. The title is his and he plans to keep it. He’s six years older, three inches taller, and has not been in with the who’s who of boxing that Cotto has. His opponents have been a step down from Cotto’s and as he faces 40, this fight means everything to him. He knows the stats, he has thought it all out, and he is determined not to let his title change hands.
The Argentinean Martinez is well aware of Cotto’s fan base, his superior punching power, and his illustrious past. He is aware that Cotto beat Margarito in 2011, who stopped Martinez back in 2000 and then Cotto in 2008. But none of that seems to bother him. In recent interviews, he has indicated that he feels it is his turn to shine. He hasn’t lost a fight in 4 1/2 years, while Cotto has lost his last two out of three.
In spite of all this, the fans seem to be favoring Cotto. The bettors, however, seem to be leaning toward Martinez. But that changes daily so by fight time, things can swing either way. This is a fight that the gamblers are having fun with.
I have been right on many of my picks and I have been wrong on some. I’m not necessarily stating categorically that Sergio Martinez will beat Miguel Cotto on Saturday night. I am going to stop short of that. Bet I can say that it would be a satisfying result if he does.