Why Cotto has a real shot at defeating Maravilla:
If the betting odds are anything to go by, most people are looking at Sergio Martinez’s June 7th marquee fight with Miguel Cotto as a gimme. There are good reasons to think that, as Martinez is the middleweight division’s kingpin and undefeated for almost five years running, whereas Cotto is a smallish junior middleweight coming up in weight and has lost two of his last five outings.
I admit, on the surface the match-up does look like a certain (not easy, but certain) win for Martinez over a big name opponent. Yet things aren’t always as they seem, and there are some very valid reasons to think Miguel Cotto has a fighting chance in this bout.
The size difference is slight. Recall that Sergio Martinez was a career light middleweight until he moved up to challenge Kelly Pavlik. That was some years ago, but Martinez was well into his 30s by then, and he remains a smallish middlweight today.
For his part, Miguel Cotto started out much smaller, at light welterweight, but moved up steadily as he grew older. His transition to light middleweight came at more or less the same time as Martinez’s move up, and since then Cotto has grown into a reasonable 154-pounder. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Martinez and Cotto are the same size, because they aren’t, but the gap between them isn’t that wide.
Martinez feasts on sluggers, not technicians or stylists. A quick review of Martinez’s winning streak shows plenty of brawlers (Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.), punchers (Pavlik), and swarmers (Paul Williams), but the only guy who could be described as a real boxer was Serhiy Dzinziruk. “The Razor” is a good fighter, and like Cotto was coming up from 154 lbs, but no one would put him in Cotto’s class as a boxer-puncher.
“Maravilla” is the better boxer of the two, with faster hands, a long, flicking jab, and great movement. Given his commanding height and reach advantage, those things will play to Martinez’s advantage. Yet at the same time, Martinez never fought a man as technically sound as Cotto, but Cotto has fought men who were faster and more skilled than Martinez.
Cotto is the hitter in this fight. The Puerto Rican, despite being the smaller guy, is probably the more powerful puncher. That might not mean so much upstairs to a guy like Martinez, who has taken it on the chin from Chavez and Pavlik. Yet downstairs, Cotto has a mean body attack when he lets his hands go, and against a guy as mobile as Martinez, Cotto will likely take that approach. Expect to see some serious rib breaking shots from Cotto, and if he can land them, Martinez won’t be able to do his song and dance all night long.
Martinez can be hurt. Sergio Martinez has show himself to be a tad on the fragile side, especially lately. In his last three fights, Martinez went down. Does anyone think Miguel Cotto can’t at least do what Martin Murray and Matthew Macklin could?
Martinez may not be fully physically recovered. The real x-factor in this fight may be if Martinez has truly been able to recover from his latest rounds of surgery. Whether or not he’s fully physically recovered won’t reveal itself in the ideal conditions of the gym, but could become readily apparent as soon as the real fight begins.
It’s not that I’m picking Cotto or saying Martinez shouldn’t be the favorite in this fight, because I’m not. I favor Martinez, but only by a moderate degree. Miguel Cotto has a good chance of coming out on top against Martinez, so much so that I think the only people who would call a Cotto win an “upset” are completely clueless about who both of these men are.