Miguel Cotto made history on Saturday night at a sold out Madison Square Garden in New York City, dropping Sergio Martinez four times, scoring a technical knockout when Martinez couldn't answer the bell for Round 10 and winning the WBC Middleweight Championship.
With the victory, Cotto becomes the first Puerto Rican fighter in history to win world championships in four weight divisions. He also captures the lineal middleweight crown, making him the legitimate champion at 160 pounds.
Cotto (39-4, 32 KO) blitzed Martinez from the opening bell, knocking him down three times in the opening round and setting the tone for the rest of the fight.
Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KO), who has a history of problems with his right knee, seemed to go down awkwardly on the first knockdown, and he seemed to struggle with getting any momentum on his shots and comfortably moving around the ring.
Cotto relentlessly pressured the Argentine, cutting off the ring and landing huge hooks at will to the delight of the hotly partisan crowd. It was quite possibly the single best performance of his career, and it followed the exact game plan that both Cotto and his trainer Freddie Roach had drawn up to win the fight.
Entering the ninth round, it was clear that Martinez would need a knockout, or at the very least several knockdowns, to win the fight.
But instead it was Cotto, continuing to press, continuing to attack with a fervor not seen since his days of running through the 140 and 147-pound ranks, who was landing the hard, scoring shots. He was, in a word, relentless.
Martinez simply had no answers, and he was felled again in Round 9, returning to his corner where longtime trainer Pablo Sarmiento called a halt, saving his beaten fighter from further, unnecessary punishment.
It was a shocking end to a contentious and often heated promotion, and almost nobody saw it coming.