By Sean Crose
There’s been a lot of talk lately that Miguel Cotto will somehow, someway defeat middleweight champ Sergio Martinez this Saturday night in Madison Square Garden. Even though Cotto is smaller, slower and has difficulty with southpaws like Martinez, true believers feel that under the guidance of super trainer Freddie Roach, their man will carry the day.
Thing is, they may be right. I repeat, they may be right. While it’s true the bout looks like it will be a handy Martinez victory at first blush, a closer look at the details presents a far different picture. It might not be smart to bet a large sum of money on Cotto this Saturday, but it might not be wise to bet the farm on Martinez, either.
For starters, Martinez hasn’t looked all that great in a while now. He dominated Julio Caesar Chavez Junior two fights ago, but ended up on his rear in the final round. Sure, the Argentinian won, but the guy was in legitimate trouble as the bout wore to a close. But the rut didn’t end there.
Last year, during his last fight, Martinez looked far, far from impressive against Martin Murray. To add insult to injury, the bout; which was held in Argentina; was supposed to be a homecoming for Martinez. Furthermore, Murray was from England, the nation which had defeated Argentina in the Falkland Islands War back in the 1980s. Again, Martinez won the bout fairly – but the grand event almost turned into a disaster, both for Martinez and for Argentina.
To be fair, Martinez claimed to have been hurt during the bout. Yet, while it’s true there’s no reason not to believe the man, it’s also true that injuries have been plaguing Martinez for a while now. He’s had more operations than a guy in his position should have had. If Martinez walks into the ring hurt on Saturday, or if he somehow gets hurt again during the bout, the middleweight title may well change hands.
Then, of course, there’s the matter of Martinez’ age. The guy’s close to forty, after all. Forty may not be for boxers what it was even ten years ago, but it still counts for five decades of life. Five decades. That’s a lot of years to carry into the ring. If Martinez’ age starts showing against Cotto…well, you know what it could mean.
As for Cotto, the man really does seem rejuvenated. Freddie Roach’s tutelage seems to have had a real impact. Ask Delvin Rodriguez if you don’t believe me. That vicious left to the body has returned to Cotto’s arsenal, as, it seems, has his confidence.
Add all this to the fact that Cotto will be fighting in Madison Square Garden on Saturday, hours before New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade, and the possibility of a Cotto victory seems more than a bit less implausible. So yes, Cotto can beat Martinez.
Will he, though?
Probably not. Here’s the truth as far as I see it: Martinez is not only too slick and too big, he’s also too determined to win for Cotto to carry the night. Let’s face it, Martinez can’t stand Cotto. Can’t stand him. Cotto might be a hero to his fans, but Martinez sees him as an aloof, disrespectful and all around nasty individual.
He also feels Cotto has underestimated him – and he’s right. There’s a reason Cotto chose an aging and injured champion to fight for the middleweight title instead of the likes Gennady Golovkin or Pete Quillin. Martinez was not only the most lucrative of the three choices Cotto had for middleweight opponents, he was also the least dangerous. You know it as well as I do.
Still, Martinez is far, far from easy pickings. This one should be worth the hype.