Cotto defended the title twice, beating old foe Antonio Margarito (who had given him a bad beating back in his welterweight days) and Nicaraguan tough guy Ricardo Mayorga. In 2012, he lost both of his fights in one-sided drubbings at the hands of Austin Trout and Floyd Mayweather. Cotto, at age 33, seems to have been on the big stage forever as he has been around for over a dozen years and was facing “name” opponents by his 10th fight. However, his gravy years were certainly south of 160 pounds and meeting a bigger, stronger, awkward fighter at middleweight seems to be a tough day at the office for the Hall of Fame-bound four-time world champion. Of his 4 losses, two were one-sided distance losses, the remainder, sound thrashings at the hands of Margarito, who stopped him in the 11th round in 2008 and Filipino star Manny Pacquiao who stopped him in the 12th round in 2009. While Cotto did look refreshed and revitalized against Rodriguez in October, he does have a lot of miles on the odometer.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina’s Martinez, 51-2-2 (28), the World Boxing Council (WBC) World Middleweight Champion comes back from a long layoff after healing from knee surgery. Martinez, who will turn 39 in February, has held the title dating back to April of 2010 and has been undefeated since December of 2009 when he lost a close decision to Paul Williams. He avenged that loss two fights later with a highlight reel second round KO. Since the loss to Williams, one of two losses in his career, he has recorded wins over Kelly Pavlik, Williams, Darren Barker, Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray. However, Martinez has also been on the deck in each of his last three bouts. At his relatively advanced age, the champ is looking to wrap up his career in the next couple of years and a date with “Money” would certainly look nice on his ledger and pad his bank account. While few are able to match skills with Mayweather, perhaps the naturally bigger Martinez could raise the marketability and interest level of a Mayweather fight by bringing a strong size advantage to the table. Or perhaps they could meet at a catchweight just below 160 (likely considering the catchweight is an integral tangible to Mayweather’s modus operandi) where Martinez would still enter the ring the bigger man.
Questions: Can Cotto take his power up a few pounds north and compete with the naturally bigger Martinez? Will Martinez rebound from the numerous injuries that have plagued him over the last few years? Are three trips to the canvas in Martinez’s last three bouts indicative of anything usable in a prognosticative effort for fans and the media, let alone a study point for Cotto? Is a fourth world title (a record for Puerto Rican fighters) the motivation Cotto needs to pull off one more great performance? Is the chance of a Mayweather bout the motivation Martinez needs to be great on this night?
Cotto would always be a tough sell again with Mayweather as he lost such a one-sided decision in his first go-round. But an impressive victory for Martinez could put him in line for a shot at some serious “Money” as a player who looks like he’d be a nice piece of the equation for a Floyd event on Showtime.
Answers to some - or all - of these questions are coming in early June in “The Big Apple.”
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