(Photo credit: Sumio Yamada) By Timothy Medina: Tonight at Madison Square Garden, 4-time world champion Miguel Cotto (38-4, 31 KO’s) will be swapping leather with the middleweight kingpin Sergio Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KO’s). Both men are in the final stages of their hall of fame careers. When mentioning the careers of both Cotto and Martinez, the numerous rings wars they have been through come to mind. As every boxing fan knows, ring wars take a toll on a fighter.
It is clear that these two warriors are battle-worn and now that they are close to meeting each other inside the squared circle, one question still remains. Is this fight happening too late or has it come at the right time?
If the toughest resumes in boxing currently are to be discussed, Cotto’s resume should be mentioned. Cotto not only possesses a solid resume, it is one filled with tough fights. The brawl with Ricardo Torres, the 12 round slugfest with Shane Mosley, the struggle against Joshua Clottey, the punishment from Manny Pacquiao, and the revenge match with Antonio Margarito are just a few fights that displayed the heart Cotto has. Whether he wins or loses, you know he gave everything he had. Cotto has always been the kind of fighter who will take a few punches to land punches of his own. That means Cotto had to take damage. The truth is, he has taken serious damage especially in his first fight with Margarito and his 2009 bout against Pacquiao.
After 2009, I noticed Cotto’s face gets marked up easily, which is understandable. What I do not understand is as he got older, he would abandon his left hook to the body. While he was able to maintain his status as an elite fighter without it, it was strange to see the punch that made him a legend not be thrown much. Cotto at 154 had success, yet, he did not look like the same fighter at 147. Now that Cotto is moving up in weight, he has to prove there is enough left in his tank to become a 4-division champion. What Cotto can get done at this point in his career is unknown. However, what is known is his opponent’s days as the top middleweight could be over.
It is hard to believe the man that shared a draw with Kermit Cintron would become one of the top P4P fighters in boxing a few years later. After the bout with Cintron, Martinez would face Paul Williams close to ten months later. Nobody expected Martinez to put up a tough fight against Williams. However, he did more than that. He made a name for himself after a 12 round war. Although Williams won the bout, Martinez won the respect of many boxing fans. His next fight was against Kelly Pavlik for the WBC Middleweight championship. He would dethrone Pavlik to become the new Middleweight King and after that fight, the reign of Martinez would go on for years.
Williams getting knocked out cold in a rematch, Sergiy Dzinziruk being sent to the canvas 5 times, Darren Barker not being able to get up, and Matthew Macklin quitting on his stool are the highlights of Martinez’s reign. Even though Martinez dominated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for 11 rounds, that fight is where things changed for the champion. His left hand and right knee were damaged during that fight and the injuries would reoccur in his next bout against Martin Murray. The reoccurring injuries were much worse because Martinez would not fight again in 2013 after a controversial victory over Murray. He did not look solid against Murray and many wonder what he will do tonight after not fighting for more than a year due to injury. It is possible these problems can come back tonight because he is getting old and his body might be braking down on him.
Tonight at the Garden, we are seeing a battle-worn Miguel Cotto who is determined to make history going against an old Sergio Martinez who is convinced he is better than ever. That may sound negative to most people. However, that will create a boxing classic. These two men are going to put everything they have left on the table for Boxing’s Middleweight throne. Due to the obstacles both men have overcome in their careers, that is what makes this fight so interesting. Overcoming obstacles makes anyone stronger. In boxing, that creates legends. Cotto-Martinez is a bout between two legends. If anyone asks me if this fight is happening too late, my answer will be “No. It has come at the right time.”