Cotto-Martinez: Exciting for the wrong reasons?

While negotiations are moving particularly slowly, it seems that the June 7th showdown between current Ring/WBC champion Sergio Martinez (51-2-2) and The Ring No.3 Jr. Middleweight Miguel Cotto (38-4-0) is inevitable. Their managers have decided on a fight name, venue, date and even catchweight, and are likely now ironing out more details. While many fans would rather see undefeated knockout-king Gennady Golovkin face Martinez instead, this bout remains interesting to the public. The reasons for this, however, may not be the kinds that lend themselves to an actually enjoyable fight.

Some analysts, for one, remain puzzled as to how Cotto has exactly earned this fight. Having lost 2 of his last 3 weights at Jr. Middleweight (both hard fought unanimous decisions), Cotto came back with a riveting knockout early in round 3 of the largely unheralded Delvin Rodriguez. Though Cotto has held world titles in every weight class from 140 – 154 pounds and has long been considered a world class fighter, he has not convinced everyone that he can still deliver that kind of performance against a world champion level fighter. What is even more questionable about him receiving this fight, however, is that Cotto has never even fought at Middleweight, and hasn’t been a World Champion for close to two years.

There is little doubt that he has earned this fight through his fame and popularity, being called by some “The Champion of New York”. Knowing all this, some would think Cotto to have no chance against The Ring No. 5 pound for pound, Martinez. After all, Cotto has 3 inches less in height, 6 inches less in reach and would be going up to an unnaturally high weight. However, the fight has the potential to be competitive, and this is sadly due to Martinez’ own decline.

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Not having found much popularity early in his career, Martinez boxed in obscurity for years before being recognized in The USA, and will be 39 when he would clash with Cotto. This age has lead to a different kind of wear and tear for Martinez, who has suffered from injury in recent bouts. For all the time he is taking to recover, he will have heavy ring rust deterring him further. In his last bout against Martin Murray, many analysts felt that if 2 of his slips were counted as downs (as they appeared to be), he could have lost by a close unanimous decision instead.

Indeed, Martinez has been getting knocked down recently by all his opponents. His no-guard style is similar to that of Roy Jones Jr., though Martinez is not nearly as untouchables and suffered downs in major fights against Paul Williams and Kelly Pavlik. While he should be commended for being tough enough to always getting up, his getting knocked down by Chavez Jr and Matthew Macklin in his very recent bouts are telling. Against Cotto’s heavy left hooks, Martinez’s vulnerabilities and recent injuries could be problematic. However, Cotto’s own ring wear and issues at a higher weight against Martinez’s rapid flurries could leave him helpless.

Therefore, what would have been a strange match to hold has now become competitive in its own way, with both fighters having to deal with great disadvantages in order to win. For now we must wait for an official announcement, but the middleweight division will likely have its most interesting match in years come this June 7th.