When WBC middleweight champion Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez faces Miguel "Junito" Cotto on Saturday night from Madison Square Garden, there will be a good number of interesting factors for the highly anticipated bout.
There are clear advantages for both men, but let's look at the champion's first.
Martinez is three inches taller than Cotto at 5'10", and he also holds a six-inch reach advantage.
This could be huge if Martinez chooses to use his jab to maintain distance during the bout.
At his best, Maravilla's movement and length make him a tough nut to crack over a 12-round fight. Getting inside could be a task for Cotto—especially early in the fight.
While he's not exactly on Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s level when it comes to quickness, Martinez's speed has been one of the prevailing factors in his biggest wins.
He used it to outbox Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and to outpoint Martin Murray in his last fight.
Cotto has never been lightning fast, but at the heavier weight classes, his speed has fallen off even more.
For Cotto, fighting at MSG is almost like competing in Caguas, Puerto Rico. The popular Puerto Rican fighter lives in Caguas, but MSG has become his second home.
A large Puerto Rican contingent will make sure Martinez doesn't feel at home.
Stamina and Overall Health
Cotto last fought in Oct. 2013. He looked great destroying Delvin Rodriguez in three rounds. That was his first fight in almost a year.
Needless to say, he should be fresh.
Martinez last fought in April 2013. Under normal circumstances, ring rust would be his biggest issue. But the health of his surgically repaired knee is probably the biggest concern.
My knees are feeling great. ... I am feeling great and haven’t felt this good in a long time. The recuperation was very painful. I was on crutches for nine months, and it is very hard to come back from that. ... This is the road that I chose, and I enjoy the achievement of coming back from something like this. ... Right now, I am just the same as when there were no knee problems. I have overcome all obstacles.
Is this just pseudo pre-fight confidence from Martinez? He is 39 years old, and in his last two fights, he's seemingly run out of gas.
At this point in both warriors' careers, Cotto has the edge in this all-important category.
Jake Donovan of Boxing Scene gave this prediction, per Satterfield: "Cotto's body work and constant pressure will exploit that flaw, even if it means absorbing a world of punishment before getting to that point."
I couldn't have said it better myself, though I will add something to the concept.
Martinez is on his last leg as a champion and/or elite fighter. The wear and tear from a long and successful career is catching up to him. He's facing a proud, durable fighter with an excellent chin.
The chances that Martinez floors him with an earthquaking countershot aren't likely.
Martinez will win the early rounds, but Cotto will be the fresher man late, and he'll stop an exhausted and aching champion to win the title.
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