WHAT WAS I THINKING?
Like a lot of people I picked Sergio Martinez to beat Miguel Cotto, an opinion I pretty much based on size alone, as well as past greatness. I let pundits' talk of “Cotto doesn't have any significant wins” and other nonsense color my thinking. The result was making a pick that would have gotten me laughed out of the sports handicappers union. If I have any advice for those thinking of putting a couple bucks down on a future fight it's this: never bet on the 39-year-old wearing two knee braces on fight night.
Actually, I'm sure there are going to be many people who on Friday didn't know which way to go, but on Monday are now claiming they were certain Martinez was shot. I'm not gonna pretend I knew, and I don't want to take away from Cotto's win – he fought a helluva fight. Pretty much all nine rounds were a highlight reel (I couldn't find a round to definitively give to Martinez; I didn't want to be him after any of those rounds.) It was also a textbook humane stoppage, and refs and trainers should take note of it.
I guess the question is where does Cotto go from here? I'm a bit more interested in a Floyd Mayweather Jr. rematch now, but not by much. Cotto may have had fast hands against Martinez but they'll still be slow against Mayweather. Maybe Canelo Alvarez-Cotto would be interesting, but that could end up looking a bit too much like Cotto-Trout all over again. Your thoughts?
Also, mythical matchup of promoters – Lou DiBella vs. Dana White. Who wins?
Keep up the good work. I always love the bag. – Chris in Chile
Thanks Chris, and thanks for keeping it real. Yeah, everybody knew Martinez’s legs were junk – after Cotto dropped him in Round 1. Most of the Armchair Eddie Futches claiming they knew it all along are so full dookie their toilets are jealous.
You are definitely not alone in picking Martinez. I favored the defending middleweight champ, as did the odds makers, who made Cotto a 2-to-1 underdog. I didn’t favor Martinez because of his size. I favored him because of his unorthodox and mobile southpaw style, which I thought would trouble the Puerto Rican star, and because of his tremendous heart and fighting spirit.
The problem with that reasoning is that it was contingent upon Martinez being at least somewhat healthy going into this fight (at least 75 percent). In other words, he had to have his legs under him in order to stick and move effectively (with his usual off-beat rhythm) and punch with any sort of authority.
We’ll never know for sure (because Martinez is too much of a man and a professional to make excuses) but I doubt he was even 50 percent going into the Cotto fight. However, I was willing to give the “old man” the benefit of the doubt during the build-up to this fight because of the valor he always displayed in the ring and due to the honesty he had always showed outside of it.
Anyway, like you (and more than a few other fans and pundits), I was wrong about the time away from the ring (and from hard training) allowing his knees to recuperate enough for him box or fight effectively. And I must follow that statement with the fact that I’m beyond happy to give full credit to Cotto for pushing a faded elite veteran over that cliff. Cotto looked his sharpest since his first year at 147 pounds (December 2006 through 2007). His technique was on point. His legs were strong. His speed and reflexes were good. And, obviously, his power was there.
Where does he go from here? Anywhere he wants. The top two logical/business choices are a rematch with Mayweather or a showdown with Canelo. However, Mayweather’s contract with Showtime (plus his vow never to do business with Top Rank) places a pretty thick wall between those two sides coming together, and the redheaded Mexican star has to get by Erislandy Lara next month – which isn’t a given.
Bob Arum and Todd duBoef said they’d like Cotto to return in December. If Canelo wins on July 12 and Oscar De La Hoya is serious about ending the Cold War (which would have to include mending Golden Boy’s relationship with HBO), it seems like Cotto-Canelo is a natural for that date. However, Arum (and Cotto) might want to let that potential superfight “marinate” until next May (Cinco De Mayo weekend) or next June (Puerto Rican parade weekend in NYC). In which case, I can see Cotto simply taking on one of Top Rank’s middleweights, such as Russian Olympian Matt Korobov (in NYC). Who knows? Bob might be crazy enough to offer up 4-0 (4) Japanese Olympic gold medalist Ryota Murata and take the show to Macau.
I think Canelo is definitely in Cotto’s future if the young gun can avoid setbacks in the next year, but in the meantime, we can expect Top Rank to keep Cotto busy with non-threats. (FYI, Jermain Taylor is rated No. 5 in the WBC for some reason; don’t put it past any promoter or commission to allow the totally faded and undeserving former champ to challenge Cotto – it would probably be the only time Arum would do business with an Al Haymon client.)
Lou DiBella vs. Dana White? That’s easy! Nobody wins. It would be a No Contest. White would beat up on DiBella worse than Cotto beat up on poor Martinez, but the UFC boss would fail his drug test.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR COTTO & MARTINEZ?
What a fight this weekend. So many variables have run through my mind about what happened tonight with Cotto vs Martinez, but one thing is adamant and that is that Cotto fought one hell of a well-executed fight. I had it a shutout for Cotto. Going into this fight I really did not know if I would see the sluggish Cotto that fought Austin Trout, or a prime Cotto fit for middleweight and see a healthy Martinez or completely out of it. Well clearly the move to middleweight for Cotto has not deterred his speed or power. He teed off on Martinez with the left hook all night, utilized combinations, and overall good movement to keep Martinez's jabs and straight lefts out of the picture and simply beat up a great middleweight champion. Regardless of Martinez's condition and knee, Cotto fought like a revitalized and more confident version of himself. Do you chalk this up to Freddie Roach? Has he finally found the trainer he has needed? I personally think he questioned his abilities throughout his career and Roach is finally giving him the drive he's needed to utilize his most important assets that his other trainers failed to do.
As for Martinez, what a champ. Regardless of the loss, what he has done the last 5 or 6 years is nothing short of impressive. He became a fan favorite of mine after seeing him beat Kelly Pavlik in 2010, just coming out of nowhere and being flat out impressive in every dimension. My hat goes off to him for making no excuses after the fight. He said he got knocked cold in the 1st round and that’s what did him in for the night and that may very well be true, but there is no doubt his knees were shot. He had absolutely no upper body movement or head movement because he couldn't put any weight under himself or sit down on his punches. It was clear he could not fully bend his knees which limited effective power punching. He could laterally move a bit, but just couldn't find strength elsewhere. I had some doubts about what he had left after the Darren Barker fight and again when he fought Martin Murray and his strain of injuries progressed, even though he was clearly still winning handedly. Do you believe he showed up to this fight absolutely broken? Or was it a result of the knockdown and progressive beating by Cotto? Martinez is a prideful man and I could honestly see him fighting with a bum knee rather than cancel a fight.
So where do they both go from here?
I'd personally like to see Cotto take on Peter Quillin, GGG, or drop back down and do a rematch with Mayweather. How do you think he would fare against your boy GGG? I think that it is a dangerous fight for him… but an interesting one.
As for Martinez, sadly, I think he should retire. There is nothing else to prove at this stage in his career. Your thoughts? Can he recuperate from the loss?
I leave you with some Mythical Match-ups
1. Julian Jackson vs Chris Eubank at middleweight
2. Ray Mancini vs Arturo Gatti at lightweight
3. Wolverine vs Deadpool to the death
4. Teddy Roosevelt vs Andrew Jackson (bare knuckles of course) 15 rounds
Always look forward to your input. Thanks. – Jon M. Grand Rapids, MI
I agree that Martinez should retire. I don’t think he will ever recover enough from those knee injuries to be able to box at the world-class level. Even if he thinks he’s recovered, as soon as someone cracks him good, those damaged wheels of his are gonna spin out from under him.
And I also agree there’s nothing else for him to prove. He was THE middleweight champ for four years. He fought a Fight of the Year candidate (his first bout with Paul Williams, which could easily have gone his way), he faced and beat MUCH bigger men (Pavlik and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.), he scored a KO of the Year (his second-round blitz of Williams) and he beat a bunch of solid contenders (Dzinziruk, Barker, Macklin and Murray). Martinez has a lot to be proud of.
Do I believe Martinez showed up to this fight absolutely broken? No, not absolutely broken, but I do think he was a lot more damaged than he let on. I think there was a reason there was so much secrecy around his camp and I believe that Martinez and his team knew that win, lose or draw, the Cotto bout was likely his last significant fight. I think their goal was to get him to the fight without seriously aggravating any of the old injuries and hope for the best once he climbed into the ring. I think they did that. Unfortunately for them, Martinez faced arguably the best version of Cotto ever.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Roach has drastically improved the veteran. Most of us thought Cotto was shot at the end of 2012. Now he’s the middleweight champ and he looks great (in and out of the ring). Roach has him thinking, training, boxing and punching right.
As I noted many times during the build up to this fight, a lot of very knowledgeable friends of mine – including my coach, longtime boxing observer Dave Schwartz, and astute MaxBoxing columnist Steve Kim – loved Cotto by KO. They picked Cotto either because they were convinced Martinez was shot or because Roach was training Cotto (or combination of both), but the hall-of-fame trainer was a major factor in their confidence in the Puerto Rican star.
I loved that left to the body and that hook over Martinez’s jab and low-held right. Cotto’s right hand looked as good as it did during his 140-pound days.
How do I think Cotto would fare against Golovkin? About as well as Martinez fared against Cotto. Hey, the four-division champ looked sensational against Martinez but let’s not go crazy. He fought a faded, wounded veteran. GGG is in his prime, strong as a bull, and his technique is almost as sharp as Cotto’s.
I do think Cotto could beat Kid Chocolate but Quillin’s affiliation with Haymon hampers that matchup.
I’d love to see Cotto defend against Curtis Stevens (good NYC fight), James Kirkland or David Lemieux, but I don’t expect his team to put him in the ring with those types of middleweight punchers.
Your Mythical Match-ups:
1) Julian Jackson vs Chris Eubank at middleweight – Eubank by decision, perhaps even late TKO. Jackson was a great puncher but Eubank’s chin and fighting resolve are so underrated it’s a damn shame; plus his ring generalship was masterful (although very unorthodox and at times hard to watch).
2) Ray Mancini vs Arturo Gatti at lightweight – Mancini by decision and it wouldn’t be the all-out war a lot of folks think it would be because “Boom Boom” would jab and box the s__t out of the hard-slugging HBO/Atlantic City star.
3) Wolverine vs Deadpool to the death – Wolvie by unanimous decapitation. Come on, man. He’s the best there is at what he does (but what he does isn’t very nice — this also happens to be Steve Kim’s motto).
4) Teddy Roosevelt vs Andrew Jackson (bare knuckles of course) 15 rounds – This would be a brutal, bloody confrontation, as both of these former U.S. presidents were hard-ass, vicious crackers who served as military leaders before they got to the White House. And you can forget about 15 rounds. They predate 15-rounders. Championship bouts STARTED at 20 rounds during Teddy’s era while fights to the finish were the norm during Jackson’s time. They would definitely want a fight to the finish. Jackson was more ruthless, but I like Roosevelt to score a stoppage any time after Round 60. He had the boxing background, the athleticism (despite a sickly childhood) and he was just plain crazier.
WHAT A NIGHT FOR COTTO, BOXING
Just wanted to comment on what a night we saw. I was not encouraged by the undercard on paper, but was entertained throughout, minus Marvin Sonsona's win… a little too much holding and grappling for me.
I thought Cotto was the definition of professional in his breakdown of Sergio Martinez. He had a game plan and never wavered or got over-anxious in his attack. Martinez has nothing to be ashamed of though. He has gone farther than ever envisioned and has been a warrior champion.
I had a hard time stomaching some of the comments made by Max Kellerman at the end. He inferred that Martinez had faced better opponents and that Shane Mosley was the only A-name on Miguel's resume. Cotto has fought the who's who over the past 10 years. He dominated an undefeated Pauli Malignaggi, went to war with Zab Judah (who had A+ talent) before he became shopworn. And Margarito, Clottey, and Mayorga are not pushovers in anyone's book. That is just the champion level guys, but he faced all the B+ level guys running through the divisions as well. It will never be a shame to lose to a prime Pacquiao, Mayweather and a tough as nails Margarito (who may have had plaster in his gloves).
Martinez really only has Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams as his A level guys. The others are extremely talented, yet not quite as accomplished as the list of Cotto victims. Bottom line is that I wish Max would give fighters a little more respect than he does. I hated that he tried to force an excuse down Sergio's throat during the post-fight interview. Just let the man say what he wants to say and not strip him of his dignity in front of the world.
As for what is next, I have been following Miguel Cotto since his knockout of Victoriano Sosa in Feb 2004. I do not want to see him take a serious beating from Gennady Golovkin. I think a fun style matchup would be to unify with Sam Soliman in the fall, then jump in with Canelo Alvarez if he continues to win. What are your thoughts on what happens next with this interesting group of fighters? Thanks. – Dan Marvin
I don’t see Cotto taking on Soliman, who doesn’t have much of a name in the U.S. If he bothers to unify middleweight titles it will be against WBA boss GGG (because HBO would be willing to get behind that showdown with money and all its marketing muscle), but he knows that he’s the lineal champ and an A-side with a more lucrative option in Canelo. I don’t think his team would risk a Golovkin fight before making a fortune against the freckle-faced Mexican star. (By the way, I don’t think Canelo would be an easy fight for Cotto, I’m just saying the kid presents less of a physical threat and brings more fans and money to the dance.)
Regarding Martinez’s opponents, don’t forget that he also fought Margarito – way back in 2000 (I witnessed it live on the undercard of the classic first Morales-Barrera fight). Williams and Pavlik may be the only “elite” names (apart from Cotto) on Martinez’s resume, but he should also get some credit for facing many solid contenders, including Chavez Jr. (a titleholder), Dzinziruk (a titleholder – at 154 pounds), Barker (a future beltholder) and Murray – a foursome that boasted a combined record of 131-0-2 at the time they challenged Martinez.
Macklin was a top-10 contender when he faced Martinez. Cintron and Alex Bunema were still serviceable when they fought him.
Cotto’s resume is hall of fame worthy. He’s faced 19 fighters who held major world titles, including the big name fellow future hall of famers – Mayweather, Pacquiao and Mosley (Martinez is borderline) – but also a number of young undefeated standouts with a variety of styles and talents (Carlos Maussa, Ricardo Torres, Paul Malignaggi, Carlos Quintana, Yuri Foreman and Austin Trout).
I watched the HBO Pay Per View broadcast with a group and everyone was entertained by the Lee-Jackson and Melendez-Maciel fights. Note to promoters: PPV undercard bouts don’t have to include big-name fighters or top contenders, they just need to be good matchups – preferably puncher vs. puncher or slugger vs. any style.
MARTINEZ’S LAST STAND
Daaaaaaang!!!!! I'm still in shock on what took place tonight. Cotto devastated Maravilla. I don't think anyone, even those that predicted Cotto winning could've imagined this kind of ass whoopin!
I'm sad to see Maravilla go down like this, but at least he went out like a champ. I never heard him say I can't continue, or allowed himself to use the obvious excuse that his knee was shot. He is (was?) one of my favorite fighters to watch because of his unique style, his heart of a champion similar to Marquez because he may go down but he always gets up, and gets up to fight not to clinch and not to run.
I know this may be a stupid question but I'll ask anyway, do you feel that this Cotto could have beaten the prime Martinez that busted up Kelly Pavlik and sent Paul Williams to la la land? How do you see Cotto doing against Golovkin? I think Triple G is the guy I want to see him fight, but I think we will see him fight either the winner of Canelo-Lara or a Money Mayweather rematch. I have him beating Canelo rather soundly, and despite what I saw I just still can't see him beating Mayweather but I would say that it’s 50-50 after the Chino fight and what I saw tonight.
Since this is probably Martinez’s last significant fight, do you know of any fighters with a similar style of boxing? I saw Triple G fight a dude who was said to have a similar style to Martinez, but I didn't think he was even close to Maravilla’s skill level which is why I can't remember his name!
Also I wanted to say that tonight's undercard was definitely worth my hard earned $$$$. What it lacked in big names, it more than made up for with action. Glad to see TR produce a complete PPV.
Thanks for the mailbags and the article on welterweights that stepped up to middleweight. I love boxing but I'm not well versed on the history of the Sweet Science and articles like yours help out! – Mainor
Thanks Mainor. Young/new fans like you are the reason I write articles like “Miguel Cotto takes the great welterweight challenge.”
Cotto deserves recognition for the historical significance of his victory, which goes beyond being the first Puerto Rican boxer to win major titles in four weight classes. By being a former welterweight beltholder who won a middleweight title, Cotto joins an exclusive club that includes all-time greats such as Mickey Walker, Sugar Ray Robinson, Emile Griffith, Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran. The list of great former welterweight champs who failed to win the middleweight title includes the supremely talented and skilled Cuban trio of Kid Gavilan, Luis Rodriguez and Jose Napoles.
Cotto is in very good company.
Martinez’s style was definitely his own. I know it turned a lot of purists off but always liked it – not as much as Jim Lampley, mind you – but I enjoyed watching him fight. Martinez always took chances, always tried to close the show and always picked himself off the canvas whenever he was knocked down. What is there not to respect about him?
The guy who fought GGG that you’re trying to recall is Gregorz Proksa, the awkward and gutsy former two-time European champ from Poland. Proksa is an unorthodox southpaw who shares Martinez’s in-and-out movement and willingness to duke it out but he lacks the Argentine’s athleticism, power and coordination.
Or perhaps I should say Proksa lacks the athleticism, power and coordination that Martinez USED to have. We didn’t see any of those attributes on Saturday and Cotto should get at least some of the credit for that.
However, as sharp as Cotto was this past weekend, I think the 2010-2011 version of Martinez would have outmaneuvered and outworked the classy Puerto Rican boxer-puncher to either a late TKO or a close but unanimous decision victory. I know styles make fights, but I have a hard time envisioning the middleweight version of Cotto beating Pavlik, Dzinziruk and Williams the way Martinez did when he was still “Maravilla.”
Email Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer