Miguel Cotto vs. Sergio Martinez: Head-to-Toe Breakdown of Championship Fight

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2014

Miguel Cotto vs. Sergio Martinez: Head-to-Toe Breakdown of Championship Fight

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    Former three-division world champion Miguel Cotto will move up in weight and challenge Sergio Martinez for the middleweight championship of the world on June 7 at Madison Square Garden.

    According to a report from Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, the fight, with huge historical implications, has been finalized and will be broadcast on HBO pay-per-view. 

    It's been a long road to this point, with negotiations stopping and starting for months, but with the contracts finally signed, boxing fans can prepare for one of the biggest fights of 2014.

    Cotto, a former junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight champion, will be attempting to make history by becoming the first Puerto Rican fighter to capture world championships in four weight classes.

    Martinez, an icon himself in his native Argentina, will be making his seventh defense of the 160-pound crown, but he'll be stepping into the ring for the first time in 14 months, after suffering a year-ending injury against Martin Murray last April. 

    It's a huge fight, with huge historical implications, and here we'll pull apart the fight and the fighters for you.

    This is your complete head-to-toe breakdown of Cotto vs. Martinez!

Fight Info

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    Main Event: Sergio Martinez vs. Miguel Cotto; 12 rounds for Martinez's WBC and The Ring Magazine Middleweight Championships

    Where: Madison Square Garden in New York City

    When: June 7, 2014

    TV: HBO Pay-Per-View

The Fighters

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    All information per Boxrec.com.

     Sergio MartinezMiguel Cotto
    Record51-2-2, 28 KO38-4, 31 KO
    Weight159.5 (Last Fight)153.75 (Last Fight)
    HometownQuilmes, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaCaguas, Puerto Rico
    Last Fight UD 12 Martin Murray (4/27/13)TKO 3 Delvin Rodriguez (10/5/13)

    *Martinez will be 39 on fight night.

What You Need to Know

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    Sergio Martinez

    It's been a rough stretch for Martinez. The middleweight champion hasn't lost a fight since 2009—even that was highly controversial—but he's suffered serious injuries in each of his last two fights. 

    He dominated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in September 2012. He won virtually every round but was knocked down and badly hurt in the closing seconds of the fight. He injured his right knee—a minor tear requiring surgery—and fractured his left hand, per ESPN's Dan Rafael, and the ailments forced him out of action until last April.

    In April, he narrowly defeated Martin Murray by decision in his native Argentina, but he suffered the exact same injuries and was on the shelf for the remainder of 2013. He's pushing 40, and with the injuries mounting, we don't know how much he'll have left come June.

    Miguel Cotto

    Cotto is a former three-division world champion, a legendary competitor and one of the very best fighters from Puerto Rico. That last part, given the island's rich boxing history, is particularly impressive.

    And on June 7, he'll have the opportunity to carve a whole new chapter into the annals of Puerto Rican boxing history by becoming the first four-division champion from the island. And he'll get the chance to do it in New York City on the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day parade.

    Per Rafael, Cotto spurned a huge payday against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez for the chance to make history against Martinez, believing this was the more significant fight. 

Boxing Ability

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    Sergio Martinez

    Martinez is an extremely talented fighter with great hand speed, a good sense of distance and excellent timing. The biggest knock on him—and something that nearly cost him against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.—is that he tends to get too flashy at times. He fights when he should box, and that leads to him getting caught with unnecessary punches.

    He is skilled at boxing from the outside. He flicks a long, powerful jab that helps him control distance, and against a smaller fighter, this could prove decisive. He'll have a big height and reach advantage in this fight, which should play into his strengths. 

    Miguel Cotto

    Cotto is one of the most offensively aggressive fighters in the sport, and that's odd given that he isn't the most active. The Puerto Rican likes to come forward, stalk his foe and unleash powerful shots once he gets into range. But he's measured in his attack, and he doesn't throw more than necessary.

    In his prime, he attacked the body with ferocity. But in recent years, he's seemed more reluctant to let his hands go with mean intentions. That was a part of the reason why he brought in a new trainer, Freddie Roach, for his fight with Delvin Rodriguez, which led great success.


    Martinez gets the nod with some ease on this measure. He's taller, rangier and a better overall boxer. If he's able to exploit his height and reach advantages to keep Cotto on the outside, he could box his ears off. However, there is a big unknown here. We don't yet know if Martinez will have lost a step after suffering year-ending knee injuries in 2012 and 2013.


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    Sergio Martinez

    Martinez isn't the biggest puncher, but he can knock you out with one big punch if he lands cleanly. For a great example of his ability to stop a guy with a single shot, see his 2010 fight with Paul Williams.

    Throughout his career, the Argentine has been much more comfortable attacking his opponents from the outside rather than rushing at them and going on the attack. He likes to exploit angles and land sneaky punches in order to enhance his power. 

    He can crack, but he's clearly more of a boxer than a puncher.

    Miguel Cotto

    Cotto is among the most physically strong fighters in boxing. He carries a thudding force on his punches—particularly to the body—and is able to use it to systematically break a foe down over the course of a fight. 

    What has made him so effective throughout his career has been his commitment to attacking the body before bringing his shots upstairs. By softening up opponents, he can to zap their legs and their ability to contend with big, crisp punches to the head. 

    He is clearly the puncher in this fight, but we don't know if he'll lose a little steam by moving up to middleweight.


    In terms of punching power, this is a walk for Cotto. He's the puncher to Martinez's boxer—as long as he doesn't lose anything significant off his shots by moving up in weight.


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    Sergio Martinez

    Martinez has the capability of being a much better defensive fighter than he's often shown in the ring. His style takes advantage of his length and range, and he's able to box effectively and control most opponents from the outside. But, largely due to his own decisions, that often proves not to be the case.

    The Argentine likes to put on a good show. He enjoys his craft—you can often see him smiling in the ring—and tends to engage his foe more than necessary or even smart.

    He is very hittable when he's stationary and willing to trade shots. When he's on his horse, circling and using his fast hands and feet, he's a tough nut to crack.

    Miguel Cotto

    Like Martinez, Cotto is not a very good defensive fighter. He gets hit a bunch and isn't a difficult target to find. That has a lot to do with the fact that he prefers the fight at close quarters and often has to swallow a few shots in order to get into scoring range. 

    The Puerto Rican usually treats his fights as though they are wars. He likes to engage, and that means hitting and getting hit back.

    He has a propensity to get tagged a lot, and he has the battle scars to prove it.


    This is a tough call. Neither guy will ever be confused for the defensive fighter of the year, but given the physical and stylistic matchup here, we'll go with Martinez.

Game Plan

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    Sergio Martinez 

    This one is very simple. Martinez needs to keep this fight on the outside. He needs to box effectively, keep Cotto out of scoring range and give him few opportunities to land clean punches.

    The last time Cotto fought a tall, rangy opponent—Austin Trout—he was thoroughly dominated. Trout used his jab to effectively control distance and gave Cotto almost no chance to turn the fight around by landing a big shot or two.

    Martinez will need to do the same. He possesses massive physical advantages, is a better boxer and has made a career out of frustrating his opponents with a sharp jab and crisp counters. That's the perfect blueprint for him to win this fight.

    Miguel Cotto

    For Cotto, the plan is no less obvious but likely much harder to put into action. The Puerto Rican needs to be aggressive, attack and force his way on the inside, where he's most effective.

    Think of this as a war. Martinez holds the high ground, and Cotto will try to overrun his position. Cotto will need to absorb the shock of some big projectiles in order to get into a position to counter with bombs of his own.

    As the fighter with the defensive advantage, Martinez is in a superior position. Cotto will need to act like a tank, absorbing fire while working his way up the mountain. If he can, his superior power could turn into the story of the fight.


    Another tough call.

    Martinez has the physical advantages that would seem to make it more likely that he'll succeed at implementing his game plan. But he's been known in the past to voluntarily cede those advantages to make a seemingly comfortable fight dicey. 

    If he does, or if he's slowed down a bit by his bad knee, Cotto will have the advantage.

Early Prediction

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    This prediction might be going out on a bit of a shaky limb, but Miguel Cotto will win this fight and become the first Puerto Rican four-division champion in history.

    If this fight had been contested prior to Sergio Martinez suffering two significant knee injuries, he'd be the obvious favorite to retain his title. But it's hard to imagine that he won't be, at least in some measure, diminished.

    It's a lot to ask any fighter to come back from that type of damage. And Martinez is nearing 40 years old—he'll be 39 on fight night—and he has had more than a few close calls in his most recent bouts. 

    He struggled against Matthew Macklin in March 2012, having to rise off the deck in Round 7 and score a knockout in Round 11 to retain his title. 

    Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., after being embarrassed over the first 11 rounds, came within a whisker of stopping him in the final frame of their bout in September 2012.

    And the unheralded Martin Murray scored a knockdown and dropped a narrow decision to Martinez last April in Argentina. 

    None of those fighters brought to the ring anything close to the level of skill and pressure that Cotto will bring. 

    It seems as though, with the injuries and recent disappointing performances, Cotto might just be getting Martinez at the perfect time. 

    Cotto has the skills, and will, to finish the job that those other fighters couldn't. Look for him to struggle early to get through, but once he does, he'll make his power decisive and stop Martinez over the second half of the fight.