The only excuse Sergio Martinez offered for his performance was that he entered the ring cold. He had plenty of excuses that he could’ve called on that could absolve him of the disappointing performance and he chose none. After 9 rounds, Sergio Martinez’s corner stopped the fight after Martinez fought bravely, but ultimately looked like a wounded animal against Miguel Cotto. Cotto would have his arm raised as the new middleweight champion of the world.
The opening round was telling. Those who’ve followed the narrative going in were curious about where Martinez’s health would be and would he be able to have the same movement and slickness that put him in position as the king of the middleweight division. What we saw was a flat-footed Martinez. Cotto saw it too and stepped in with a hard left hook that wobbled the champion. Cotto saw the blood. He attacked. Martinez went down.
Martinez would fall and rise 3 times in the opening round. A huge, but not insurmountable lead. Except Martinez’s knees looks bad. Andrew Bynum bad. Martinez moved like his knees weren’t properly screwed in. Cotto looked quicker in every way. It took a few rounds for Martinez to get going and he did start to come on, and by that I mean he was able to make it slightly competitive.
But Cotto was the ring master tonight. Whether Martinez’s lower body betrayed him is irrelevant. Miguel Cotto put on a virtuoso performance. The edition of Freddie Roach, and all the perks that come along with the Hall of Fame trainer, has made Cotto into a well-oiled machine the likes of which we’ve never seen from him.
Cotto’s future is wide open. With the talks of the feud between Top Rank and Golden Boy dying, Cotto could face the winner of Canelo Alvarez vs Erislandy Lara some time in the Fall. There was perviously discussion of Cotto facing Canelo, and the fight is an easy sell. A rebirth of the old Mexico vs Puerto Rico feud. The addition of the middleweight crown adds another piece of leverage for Cotto in whoever he intends to negotiate with.
Should he want to go another route, perhaps there’s Floyd Mayweather for the middleweight championship of the world. It promises the largest payday and an interesting narrative for the build-up. Sure, Mayweather has a win over Cotto, but that was under Pedro Diaz. Under Freddie Roach, Miguel Cotto looks reborn. He’s yet to clearly lose a round under Roach. Maybe this time it’s different.
Another option includes a rematch with Manny Pacquiao. While Roach trains both fighters, they always say that money talks. If Mayweather is unwilling to work with Cotto because of his Top Rank affiliation, this could be a big time fight for Cotto.
The fight that would garner the most amount of respect from the boxing community would be for Cotto to defend his newly won title against fellow middleweight title holder Gennady Golovkin, a legit full-fledged middleweight. That would represent the biggest challenge as Golovkin has no knee problems, does not mind fighting on the inside, and has shown out of the world power so far in his career. A win over Golovkin would solidify Cotto as a top tier fighter not just in the middleweight division, but in the world.
The future is bright for Cotto.
For Sergio Martinez, the sun may have set. Martinez has a legitimate gripe about his knees. He could even hold onto the notion that Cotto didn’t beat him because he was simply better tonight, but because he was the one fighting on steady feet. Martinez would never say it, but you have to believe that a part of that is true. Martinez is known for his slickness, for his ability to avoid punches as though he knew where and when they were coming at all times.
That Martinez didn’t show up tonight, and we may never see him again. Martinez showed a lot of heart fighting on his shot knees, taking Cotto’s shots, and still trying to put on a show. Unfortunately, when your bread and butter is your movement, not having his knees left him prime for the taking.