Miguel Cotto (39-4, 32 KOs) delivered the best performance of his outstanding career by stopping WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (52-3, 28 KOs) after nine rounds at a rollicking Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY.
With the victory, Cotto becomes the first Puerto Rican fighter to win titles in four weight divisions.
Cotto set the tone by usuing his equalizer, the left hook, to knock Martinez down three times in the opening round. The first knockdown seemed to hurt Martinez the most. He pulled himself up, but his eyes were vacant and his surgically repaired right knee looked wobbly. Cotto continued to pummel Martinez in the next few rounds. Martinez, a southpaw, tried to adjust by staying out of the range of Cotto's dynamite left hand. Cotto, 33, was fine with that. He began to use his right hand as well. He also went to the body with vicious combinations.
Martinez, 39, did better in round four. His left hand found Cotto's face, but the challenger refused to give in. Cotto was back in charge in round five. His consistent attack had Martinez bewildered and hurt. A sweeping left hook staggered Martinez again. A right down the pipe knocked him back a step.
Cotto continued to win the face-to-face attacks in rounds six and seven. The consensus going into the fight was Martinez was the faster fighter, but it was Cotto who was getting off fast.
Martinez tried to load up in round eight. He knew he needed a knock out to win. He fired his overhand left, the same punch that dramatically knocked out Paul Williams a few years ago. Cotto ducked it with ease.
Cotto completely overwhelmed Martinez in round nine. A hard jab floored him for the fourth time in the match. The proud champion from Argentina tried to fight back, but he was outgunned and knew it.
At the end of the round he slumped heavilly on his stool. His trainer Pablo Sarmiento told Martinez that he was stopping the bout.
"I never went wild after I knocked him down three times," Cotto said in the ring. "It's the happiest day of my life."