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Cotto didn’t just beat Martinez on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden—he annihilated him.
The Puerto Rican legend jumped Martinez from the opening bell in Round 1, dropping him three times before you could even get settled back into your seat and setting the tone for the remainder of the shockingly one-sided fight.
Most of the prevailing wisdom—shows what that’s worth—said that if anyone would dominate the fight, it would be Martinez. His speed, size, power and style seemed perfectly suited to not just win the fight but possibly end the career of the brave warrior from Caguas, Puerto Rico.
Somebody must have forgotten to deliver that memo to Cotto.
He was the faster, stronger and more physical fighter. Just like he and his trainer Freddie Roach spent the week saying, he cut the ring off against Martinez, blasting him with devastating hooks at will and relentlessly pressuring.
He exuded confidence, seized the initiative in every exchange, got to his target first and looked like the dangerous stalker who ran his way through the junior welterweight ranks a decade ago. And he did it against a foe whom he wasn’t supposed to beat.
Cotto is the first Puerto Rican four-weight champion. He holds the WBC, and perhaps more significant, lineal middleweight championship. He’s the man at 160 pounds, as shocking as that may seem. And he’s a man with a ton of lucrative options.
If he wants to keep the nice green belt he just won, he’ll likely need to face Marco Antonio Rubio before the end of the year. The 33-year-old Mexican is the interim champion and ludicrously the mandatory challenger despite not winning a significant fight since losing a title challenge to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2012.
That fight isn’t pretty, but if Cotto wants to keep the belt as a bargaining chip, he’ll have to grin and bear it.
After that, the options are endless.
He turned down a fight with Canelo Alvarez, instead choosing the dare-to-be-great moment against Martinez. If Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions—more on that later—can reach an agreement now, that could be the biggest fight of 2015.
There’s also the possibility of a big-money middleweight rematch with Floyd Mayweather.
The Cotto who beat Martinez on Saturday night was light-years better than the man who gave Mayweather a rough fight in 2012, and that provides some serious drama about how a rematch would pan out.
Plenty of good, lucrative options exist for the new middleweight kingpin. It would seem that the first step would be to dispense with Rubio and then go on to bigger and better things early next year.