Migel Cotto dominated Saturday night from start to finish against Sergio Martinez. (Carlos M. Saavedra/SI)
NEW YORK -- Three thoughts on Miguel Cotto’s 10th-round TKO win over Sergio Martinez:
For Cotto, brilliance
No one knew quite what to expect coming into this fight. Martinez was 39, coming off a 14-month layoff and an average performance in his last fight against Martin Murray. Cotto, 33, was younger but in recent fights -- particularly a lackluster decision defeat to Austin Trout in 2012 -- had looked like he lost a step. But from the opening bell it was clear who was the better fighter.
Cotto, who weighed in at 155-pounds, four under the contract limit, was the aggressor, stalking Martinez, tagging him with crushing power shots. He dropped Martinez three times in the first round, again in the ninth, and rattled him with huge shots, including a steady diet of left hooks that Martinez couldn’t get out of the way from. In total, Cotto connected on a staggering 158 of his 293 power shots, a 54 percent connect rate.
Give Martinez credit: He showed incredible heart fighting on after a brutal first round; he told both his cornermen and promoter Lou DiBella that his legs were gone after that. But he was never able to mount much of an offense and was getting badly beaten when trainer Pablo Sarmiento stopped the fight after the ninth round.
“He hit me cold in the first round,” Martinez said. “I never recovered."
The end for Maravilla
It’s hard to see Martinez bouncing back from this. At his age and with his history of injuries -- which include a troublesome knee that prevents him from doing any real road work during training camps -- retirement becomes realistic. Martinez can always take a farewell fight in Argentina, where he has become a huge star, but his days of fighting at a high level are probably over.
Plenty of options for Cotto
It’s hard to remember a fighter who has had the kind of resurgence Cotto is having at this point of his career. Bob Arum pointed to Roberto Duran, who bounced back from a devastating loss to Sugar Ray Leonard to go on to win a middleweight title. Arum heaped plenty of praise on Cotto’s trainer, Freddie Roach, whose influence on Cotto was evident. Before the fight, Roach laid out of game plan that called for Cotto to be aggressive and push Martinez around the ring. For nine rounds, Cotto did exactly that. Two fights with Roach, two knockouts, and Cotto has rarely looked better.
“I was sitting there saying to myself, ‘What a waste that it took this long to get to Freddie Roach,’” Arum said. “You could see his impact. Miguel was cutting the ring off, he was moving. That’s not to take away from Miguel. But everything he was doing, you have to give so much props to Freddie.”
Said Cotto, "We had the most beautiful camp of my career. I have Freddie Roach to thank for that."
Two years removed from a loss to Floyd Mayweather, Cotto is suddenly one of the biggest stars in boxing again. And opponents could be fighting for his services. Arum said a showdown with Saul Alvarez, who will face a tough test in Erislandy Lara in July, is his first choice. But Mayweather could come a calling again, especially if a middleweight belt is on the line. And there is no doubt that Gennady Golovkin, if he beats Daniel Geale in July, would want a shot. Cotto is the third biggest pay-per-view draw in boxing, behind Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Where he goes, money follows. And after that type of performance, there is a lot more money to be made.
-- Chris Mannix