Cotto vs. Martinez, it’s game on; HBO PPV Saturday, June 7, 9 p.m.

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Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez get serious at their faceoff Friday in New York. Photo: Chris Farina, Top Rank
Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez get serious at their faceoff Friday in New York. Photo: Chris Farina, Top Rank

SAN DIEGO, June 6, 2014 – During the promotion and build-up to a pay per view boxing event, rival fighters and their camps will put up their verbal dukes before they get in the ring. For the most part, it’s all part of the show, purely a professional rivalry with a deep undercurrent of respect.

In the case of middleweights Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto, the tension between the boxers has been on a steady simmer. Expect it to boil over Saturday night at Madison Square Garden as the pair fight for Martinez’s world title on HBO Pay Per View. The televised bouts begins at 9 p.m. ET. Communities Digital News will host a live online chat for the event.

Martinez Is the title holder, but Cotto is the marketing draw bringing the fans to Madison Square Garden and sealing the HBO pay per view deal. As such, he demanded concessions from the champion Martinez including the weight and having his name first on the marquee. Martinez grumbled and granted them, calling Cotto a diva and making it stick in a pre-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman.

Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs), is the natural middleweight, a southpaw, three inches taller with a six inch longer reach than Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs). The pair agreed to fight at a catch weight of 159 pounds. At Friday’s weigh-in, Cotto weighed in at 155 pounds, Martinez at 158.8 pounds. Martinez appeared far bigger than Cotto on the stage. The pair engaged in a long, tense faceoff with Martinez leaning in toward the smaller Cotto. Game on.

If Sergio Martinez comes into Saturday's fight in good shape, he will pose a significant test for Miguel Cotto. Photo: Will Hart, HBO
If Sergio Martinez comes into Saturday’s fight in good shape, he will pose a significant test for Miguel Cotto. Photo: Will Hart, HBO

Cotto and Martinez are both headed for the Boxing Hall of Fame some day, but neither is at the peak of his career. Cotto’s TKO victory over Antonio Margarito in 2011 was his last great fight, avenging his loss to Margarito in 2008. But it seemed to take a lot out of him. Cotto then suffered losses to Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout before putting himself in the hands of trainer Freddie Roach and starting a comeback. He put on an impressive show in October with a third round TKO of Delvin Rodriguez.

Martinez scored his own impressive, fan pleasing victories agaisnt a string of opponents including Paul Williams, Darren Barker, and Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. He put 50,000 fans in the stands of a soccer stadium in Argentina for his bout with Britain’s Martin Murray in April of 2013 He won the decision, but his performance was shaky. He later blamed it on his bad knee and a broken left hand.

Since then, Martinez underwent two knee surgeries. The former soccer player and mountain bike cyclist has always moved freely around the ring and used his nimbleness and foot speed as one of his advantages. His age never showed. Now his mobility will be put to the test, and is one of the biggest questions in this fight.

Has trainer Freddie Roach given Miguel Cotto the tools he needs to beat Sergio Martinez? Photo: Will Hart, HBO
Has trainer Freddie Roach given Miguel Cotto the tools he needs to beat Sergio Martinez? Photo: Will Hart, HBO

Cotto’s ability to cut Martinez off in the ring if he does have his track shoes on will be one key to the fight, and it’s something he and Roach have worked on over the past few months. But Martinez has such superior reach and speed over Cotto, and should still have plenty of power behind his punches to do damage. If Cotto isn’t able to catch Martinez or impose his will, Martinez should be able to hurt Cotto and quickly get beyond his range.

Martinez has the edge in size over Cotto, and he may have the edge in his desire to win and put Cotto in his proper place. Both are proud men who don’t let slights and insults roll off their backs. Cotto will be encouraged by the screaming Boricua fans in New York.

If Martinez is in solid physical shape, he should be able to beat Cotto with ease. What Martinez cannot do is get cocky and get caught as he did by Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. After dominating for 11 and a half rounds, he came within a hair of losing that fight because he continued to brawl after getting hurt rather than conserving his energy and making it to the end of the round. It was wildly exciting to watch, but foolhardy from a tactical standpoint.

Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. and Marvin Sonsona at their weigh-in Friday at Madison Square Garden. Photo: Chris Farina, Top Rank
Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. and Marvin Sonsona at their weigh-in Friday at Madison Square Garden. Photo: Chris Farina, Top Rank

The pay per view includes three televised undercard bouts: Featherweights Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (23-3-1, 19 KOs) vs. Marvin Sonsona (18-1-1, 15 KOs); junior middleweights: Jorge Melendez (28-3-1, 26 KOs) vs. Javier Maciel (28-3, 20 KOs); and junior middleweights: Andy Lee (32-2, 22 KOs) vs. John Jackson (18-1, 15 KOs). These are all 10 round fights.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.  

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  • porman

    Martinez with his soccer honed and unortodox ringmanship should prove to be more than Coto can manage. Paul Williams learned this…twice

    • jonny2times

      Paul The Punisher Williams won their first matchup

  • porman

    I stand corrected..corrected…and after last night I have renewed faith in Coto’s ability…I like Martinez I like the way he handles himself, his humility and his heart..but considering his age, his knees, it might be time to hang em up