Reigning middleweight champion Sergio Martinez is a superior athlete.
If you have any doubt, just ask trainer Freddie Roach.
“He's a good athlete, but he's not a great fighter," Roach told Scott Christ of sbnation.com
Ok, maybe the compliment, if you want to call it that was a little backhanded, but the point was made. Roach respects the athleticism of the 39 year-old Martinez, but he doesn’t believe he’s a good enough fighter to beat his man, former three-division champion Miguel Cotto this Saturday at the historic Madison Square Garden in New York, NY.
Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs) captured the middleweight title four years ago by defeating Kelly Pavlik. He’s successfully defended his belt seven times, but a multitude of injuries have raised questions concerning the durabilty of the champion. After his victory over Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. in 2012, Martinez needed surgery to repair a broken left hand and torn ligaments in his right knee. He re-injured the knee in his last fight, a hard-fought victory over Martin Murray. Are age and a fragile body making Martinez vulnerable?
Cotto, 33, a slight underdog, likes his chances.
“I’m not worried about Sergio and what he has done or what he will do,” said Cotto at yesterday’s press conference. “I’m only worried about what I need to do.”
What Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs) has done during his 13-year professional career is impressive. Some of his most exciting victories have occurred inside the hallowed walls of the Garden. In 2007 he captured his first world title by stopping Zab Judah. Five months later, he handled Shane Mosley over 12 exciting rounds.
Probably the most satisfying victory for Cotto was his revenge-filled victory over Antonio Margarito at the Garden in 2011. Margarito had brutalized Cotto in their first encounter three years before. After Margarito was caught using loaded wraps before his fight with Mosley in 2009, Cotto was convinced that Margarito had used the same illegal wraps in their fight. With the capacity crowd securely in his corner, Cotto beat the stuffing out of Margarito until the ringside doctor stopped the bout in round nine. He’s won nine of ten bouts in New York, half of them by KO. After back-to-back to losses to Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout, Cotto rebounded with a third-round stoppage of Delvin Rodriguez last year.
Martinez feels that he has all the tools needed to defeat Cotto.
“I come prepared. I come to box. I come to fight,” Martinez said. “I come to be in a war. On Saturday we’ll finish the talking and see the reality."
On this point, Cotto agreed.
“I’m prepared for a war,” said Cotto. “It’s good for us to hear Sergio is ready for a war too, because that’s what people are gonna see. A real war.”
So who wins on June 7?
From all appearances, Martinez is on the downside of his career. Cotto is arguably the best fighter he has ever faced. Cotto will apply major pressure and look for an early knockout. If Martinez is healthy, his speed, moxie and superior movement should be enough to keep Cotto off balance and win a close unanimous decision.