Crossroads battle between Cotto and Martinez

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By Jingo Quijano

Last Round

Saturday, June 7, 2014


AN INTERESTING duke-out for the WBC middleweight crown takes place today between Miguel Cotto (38-4, 31KOs) and Sergio Martinez (51-2, 28KOs).

Between the two protagonists, Cotto is more familiar to Pinoy fight fans, having fought and lost to Manny Pacquiao in 12 rounds back in 2009. In that fight, Cotto was doing well and holding his own till he succumbed to the frenetic pace dictated by the Pacman Martinez on the other hand, has been on the pound-for-pound list ever since he defeated Paul Williams back in 2009.

Though his name has often been mentioned as a potential opponent and Martinez has offered to meet the Pacman at a catch-weight, such a matchup has never gained traction, on account of the obvious size difference between the two.

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SIZE. Speaking of size, this factor has made this matchup intriguing. Cotto made his mark as a lightweight and junior welterweight and this will be his first stab at a title in the middleweight division.
Martinez on the other hand has been a middleweight for most of his career, and will be the naturally bigger and stronger fighter in the ring.

LATEST FORM. That being said, it seems like Martinez would be the heavy favorite coming in, on account of his size advantage. There’s a basic rule in boxing: A good big man, will beat a good small man.
But I wish it were that simple. There is also another adage that holds palpably true in the sweet science: You are only as good as your last fight.

If that were the sole metric, it has been Cotto who has looked better based on recent performances.

And you probably credit that to Freddie Roach. After the two worked together, Cotto appears to have regained his once deadly form.
I have said this before and I’ll say it again: Roach works better with aggressive brawler- types as he is a genius in perfecting offensive strategy.

Defense is not Roach’s cup of tea, but give him a raw talent with a predilection for mayhem, and he’ll do wonders.

Under Roach, Cotto has ditched his hybrid boxer- brawler approach, and gone back to the brutal, feral style he was known for before.
Martinez on the other hand, is a terrific boxer who relies on speed for his defense. He often has his hands down and likes to make opponents miss so he can punish them with counters.

However, it remains to be seen how much is left in that Martinez tank. He was knocked down in his last fight against Martin Murray and before that was lucky to have lasted a brutal 12th round against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

At age 39, can those legs still carry him around the ring for 12 rounds, trying to avoid Cotto’s bombs?

MY TAKE. It all boils down on who can impose his game-plan on the other fighter.

If Cotto hurts Martinez early the way Chavez did in the last round, he could dominate and even stop Martinez. But if Martinez shows up in great condition, and is able to neutralize Cotto’s offense with his jabs and hand speed, he can frustrate Cotto with his longer reach and ring generalship.

This fight actually has the potential to egregiously swing either way in both extremes- it can be a close one or a totally lopsided fight.
All things considered, I think Martinez’ speed will be the deciding factor in this bout and I think he will win a decision or a late stoppage on cuts.

SONSONA. Another reason not to miss this card is that Marvin Sonsona will be one of the preliminary fighters as he seeks to exact revenge over one time conqueror Wilfredo Vasquez Jr.

LAST ROUND. It’s on a dear friend who recently retired from public service and who will be celebrating her birthday today, Janet Del Prado Gorne. Cheers!

***

(jingo_quijano@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 08, 2014.

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