By Kirk Jackson
June 7th, we will be witness to one of the biggest boxing events of the year, and certainly one of the most important fights in recent middleweight memory.
Madison Square Garden, New York, the electricity, the magnitude and importance of the event, it’s every fight fan’s dream.
It’s a clash of styles, clash of personalities, clash of cultures, clash of champions.
Leading up to the event, HBO airs a great interview-style program, to familiarize the audience with the fighters, and to potentially create more buzz and intensity between the fighters. That show is called “Face Off.”
The most recent episode featuring Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto, was certainly interesting television. You could literally feel the tension between these fighters. The host Max Kellerman, looked quite uncomfortable at times. There were quite few important things to take note of from the last episode of “Face Off.”
Sergio Martinez feels insulted from the demands made by Miguel Cotto.
There was the discussion of A-Side, B-Side attractions and A-Class, B-Class level fighters.
Martinez’s argument is layered with the perspective of feeling that because Cotto may be the more marketable name, it does not mean he deserves top billing and should pay his respects to long reigning lineal middleweight champion.
All valid points.
He also suggests Cotto is a popular fighter with victories over B-Class fighters, having come up short against the A-Class fighters. That’s an accurate assessment to a certain degree.
If comparing resumes, one can make the argument for Cotto having faced better opposition throughout his career. In comparison to Martinez, Cotto definitely fought the bigger names of the sport.
Miguel Cotto’s top level opponents: Floyd Mayweather (A-Class), Manny Pacquiao (A-Class), Shane Mosley (A-Class), Antonio Margarito twice (B-Class), Carlos Quintana (B-Class), Joshua Clottey (B-Class), Paulie Malignaggi (B-Class), Zab Judah (B-Class), Austin Trout (B-Class) and Yuri Foreman (B-Class).
Sergio Martinez’s top level opponents: Kelly Pavlik (B-Class), Paul Williams twice (B-Class), Kermit Cintron (B-Class), Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (B-Class), Antonio Margarito (B-Class) and Matthew Macklin (B-Class).
A-Class fighters are the upper echelon, elite fighters. They are World Class fighters, eventual Hall of Fame fighters. The B-Class fighters are elite fighters, World Champion fighters on the cusp of reaching the top elite level.
The grades for each fighter is all up for interpretation, it’s a matter of opinion really. What has to also be considered, is the condition of each fighter at the time of each fight. Some fighters are also in different tiers of the grade sub-class system.
In Miguel Cotto’s case, Antonio Margarito could be looked as an upper tier B-Class fighter on the verge of top elite status, while Yuri Foreman could be looked as a lower tier B-Class fighter, who holds a world title and has displayed an array of certain skills against appropriate opposition, but is looking to move up and display his skill set against better opposition. It’s all subjective.
Just with the listing of the opposition for each fighter, Martinez may hold the edge in the win column (four wins, two defeats, one draw) compared to (seven wins, four defeats), while Cotto takes the cake in regards to fighting the who’s who of the sport.
Sergio Martinez split the series with Paul Williams, but it can be argued Martinez won both fights. He fought to a draw with Kermit Cintron, but even Stevie Wonder could see Martinez clearly won the fight. That would give Martinez the record of (six wins, one defeat) with his only defeat suffered against Antonio Margarito. And who knows, Margarito could have been wrapping his hands back then.
Although they traveled different paths, each fighter paid their dues and put in the work to reach the position they’re at.
Cotto fought a plethora of big name fighters, fought top tier opposition and had the fortune of being under one of the best Promotional companies in the sport (Top Rank). He had the backing of the HBO network for a majority of his career as well.
He capitalized and maximized every opportunity placed in front of him. He has traveled through various weight classes, fought guys at their comfortable catch-weight, faced a guy who may have been using illegal hand-wraps and through it all, overcame adversity and displayed determination all throughout his career.
Martinez came into the sport at a late age, but utilized his athletic gifts, crafted a suitable fighting style, traveled across the world and worked his way from the bottom to the top, fighting who ever he could.
He caught his first break defeating Kelly Pavlik for the Lineal Middleweight Title. It’s an impressive feat, especially because Martinez is considered an under-sized middleweight and he still continues to win.
This is an A-Grade fighter for each guy’s resume.
All of the titles of classification, professional ranking and popularity will be pushed to the side when they meet in the ring June 7th, at Madison Square Garden in New York.