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Martinez vs. Cotto Pre-Fight

martinez4444By James Allen: Anyone who has been following the build up to this fight will be well aware of the demands made by challenger Miguel Cotto to facilitate it. He wanted his name put before the champion’s in the promotional campaign. He wanted the bout fought at 159lbs; one pound under the middleweight limit. And on June 7th at Madison Square Garden, in front of what has become Cotto’s home crowd over the past few years, he will walk out and be introduced second to the ring, the spot traditionally held for the champion.

Cotto feels as though he has earned these allowances and has shown little humility as he steps up to become the first ever Puerto Rican to claim a strap in four divisions. He has consistently proven he can generate vast amounts of revenue whenever he fights, especially so when fighting on Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend in New York City. His fellow country men always turn out for their favorite son. He also claims that these demands are not unusual in a fight of this magnitude, sighting his fights with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao where he adhered to requests made by the ‘A-Side’ of the event.

To Sergio Martinez, the man recognized throughout boxing as the closest thing to a true champion we are likely to see in the age of the alphabet belts, all of this means nothing. He has called Cotto a diva for his behavior and has stated his adversary will regret ever taking this fight. The Argentine is now pushing 40 but entered the sport in his early twenties, comparatively late by conventional standards, but his freakish athleticism and absolute belief in his own ability have brought him to the forefront of the division where he has reigned for the past four years. Throughout this time he has dominated all comers.

Essentially, all of this can dismissed as the usual pre-fight build up, something to add extra flavour to a fight that has only been made possible by Cotto’s ascension through the weights. It is this weight gain however, that seems to intrigue fans the most. Will Cotto be big enough to compete with what is perceived to be the bigger man? I say absolutely. At every face-off there does not seem to be a great disparity in their size at all. Martinez has always been a small middleweight; you need only to look at his fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr to see how small he looked in comparison to some others in that division. Cotto was huge at 140 and 147lbs and was not undersized at light-middleweight, though his power does seem to be receding. In the end I do not believe that size will be a deciding factor here (if it ever is).

Martinez’s knee on the other hand could prove to be crucial. On HBO’s 24/7 program Sergio could be seen applying heavy strapping and applying time stabilising that area through physiotherapy type exercises. During the Chavez fight in 2012 he tore multiple ligaments during the final round as Junior staged a now famous last-ditch effort to pull out the win, after being schooled for eleven and a half rounds. He legitimately downed Martinez once and bungled him to the floor afterwards for good measure. Martinez showed tremendous courage to brave the storm but the damage was done. He took a year off before his next outing against Martin Murray, but injured the knee again a week prior to the fight and it clearly effected his mobility during an unimpressive performance.

Ultimately we as the viewers are not granted details as to how much time he spends on strengthening the knee(s) or if it has even been an issue during his training camp at all. But if we take the champ at his word and believe that up until January of this year he was unable to walk unaided, that says more than any medical records could.

Certain parallels can be made between the circumstances leading up to this fight and those between Larry Holmes and Gerry Cooney for the heavyweight title way back in 1982. A champion who has been unable to garner the adulation of the mainstream and the riches that accompany it, despite being unequaled in his ability. The heralded challenger seeking to steal the limelight away, apparently unconcerned with the traditions of the noble art. I believe this fight will be more competitive than that clash of giants and the repercussions much more significant. If Martinez defends he will put a resounding exclamation point to his Indian summer, and he will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the elite of his class in years to come. If Cotto achieves what many would consider an upset, he will cement his place as the finest fighter that tiny island has ever produced. It all depends if the wheels fall off.

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