SAN DIEGO, June 8, 2014 – The eagerly anticipated middleweight title fight between Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico and Sergio Martinez of Argentina was effectively over after the first round.
It took another nine rounds to make it official when Martinez could not come out for the tenth round, making it a TKO victory at second seconds of round 10 for Cotto, now the WBC middleweight champion and the first Puerto Rican boxer to hold titles in four weight classes.
Cotto (39-4, 32 KOs), who is the naturally smaller man, seemed bigger than Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KOs) in the ring, coming out aggressively and with the kind of ring command he hasn’t shown in years, if ever. Cotto’s left hook, always his best punch, connected early and Martinez was down before the round was halfway over. He got up, and was knocked down twice more before the round was over.
Martinez wasn’t the only one in a daze; the 21,090 fans watching at Madison Square Garden could hardly process what was happening in the ring. You don’t witness a 10-6 round too often in boxing.
The fight seemed destined to end in Round 2, but Martinez summoned the determination that makes a champion and willed himself to continue. Cotto settled into his game plan, connecting smartly with an impressive arsenal of body shots to keep Martinez weakened, and powerful left hooks. When the straight rights started to land, everyone knew this was the best version of Miguel Cotto ever seen in the ring. He followed the game plan laid out for him by trainer Freddie Roach to perfection.
Martinez: Repaired knee not the major factor in the loss
Martinez’s knee was the unanswered question before the fight after two surgeries. It seemed weakened and lacking in flexibility, but improved somewhat in the middle rounds as Martinez dug in. But with Cotto dominating in a way no one expected, it was simply a matter of time. Without his legs, Martinez didn’t have enough power to land a comeback knockout.
After the ninth round, trainer Pablo Sarmiento said to Martinez, “Your knees are not working, Sergio. It’s my responsibility, champion. Your knees are not responding champion.” On Sarmiento’s advice, Martinez did not come out for the tenth round, giving Cotto the TKO victory six seconds into Round 10. Later at the news conference, Sarmiento explained, “He is more than a boxer, he is my brother and my friend. From the first round, his knees just weren’t responding.”
After the fight Martinez told HBO’s Max Kellerman,”You’ve got to know how to win, and you’ve got to know how to lose, I have nothing more to say but congratulations to Miguel Cotto.” As for the stoppage, Martinez said although he thought he could continue, “My trainer sees things from the outside, he sees much clearer than I do on the inside.”
Cotto said of the first round trio of knockdowns that it wasn’t necessarily the plan: “It was just the moment. I hit him with a hard punch, and I go for him… I just maintain myself in the fight, and keep fighting.”
All three judges had the fight scored 90 to 77 when it was stopped. Cotto landed 212 punches to just 100 punches for Martinez.
Roach: Cotto had the perfect fight plan, perfectly executed
At the post fight news conference, trainer Freddie Roach said of Cotto, “He really gave him a boxing lesson … It was a great win. A lot of people told us we were crazy taking this one. It was the fight that I wanted, the fight I thought I could get him ready for. We did well.” Roach praised Cotto’s work ethic, saying “Miguel is a great student, his dedication his discipline is unbelievable.”
No one should think the condition of Martinez’s knee was the reason for his loss. Miguel Cotto took charge and he seized the victory. Even at his best, Martinea still wouldn’t have prevailed against this version of Miguel Cotto. Cotto has executed his fight plan to perfection. Sergio Martinez should now retire as a great champion of the sport, destined for the Hall of Fame.
Cotto’s future is bright beyond belief. He has potential opponents from 147 to 160 pounds, though Roach said Cotto won’t fight at welterweight again. The leading candidates include a possible rematch with Floyd Mayweather, and a bout against Canelo Alvarez. Fans are already salivating over the thought of a contest with Gennady Golovkin down the road.
As Miguel Cotto left the arena, the emotion of the situation finally hit him, as he tearfully waved to his supporters.
The undercard fights offered surprisingly exciting action despite the lack of big names. Four of the first five bouts ended in early knockouts.
Among the most surprising was the fourth round knockout win by veteran Irish boxer Andy Lee (33-2, 23 KOs) over John Jackson of the Virgin Islands (18-2, 15 KOs). Jackson, by far the harder puncher in the style of his father, boxer Julian Jackson, was in command when Lee rocked Jackson out of nowhere in a desperate effort. After the fight, Lee said, “With that Irish blood in me, when I get hit, I lose my temper and I want to hit him back.” It was a punch that saved Lee’s career and thrilled the Garden fans.
Also winning was Argentine fighter Javier Maciel (29-3, 20 KOs), who took a decision over Jorge Melendez (28-4-1, 26 KOs) of Puerto Rico on three weeks notice, an impressive result given the circumstances; and Marvin Sonsona of the Philippines (19-1-1, 15 KOs) prevailed in a sloppy, uneven fight over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (23-4-1, 19 KOs), avenging his early career loss to Vazquez.
Prior to the televised undercard fights, rising lightweight star Felix Verdejo thrilled his Puerto Rican fans with a stunning first round knockout at 1:17 of the round to get his 13th win and tenth knockout with no defeates over Engelberto Valenzuela of Mexico.
A replay of Cotto vs. Martinez will air on HBO for all subscribers on Saturday, June 14, at 10 p.m. ET prior to the Provodnikov vs. Algieri.
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 +
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