NEW YORK CITY — Puerto Rican idol Miguel Cotto exploded onto the middleweight scene, taking out lineal undisputed champion Sergio Martinez at the Mecca of Boxing — the famed Madison Square Garden in New York — Saturday night on HBO on the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
A raucous crowd watched the Puerto Rican native son storm out of the gates and knock down the champion three times in stunning fashion within the first three minutes on the way to a 10th round stoppage as Martinez’s corner called it off.
Cotto becomes the undisputed middleweight champion of the world and achieves the crown jewel victory of his career.
The trouble for Martinez started almost immediately, as the hand speed advantage that the champion was thought to hold never materialized. After the initial blitzkrieg in round 1, Martinez found his footing in the next few rounds, and seemed to move well despite worry of knee issues before the bout. Cotto continued to look very strong, however, and took the fight to him, stepping inside the longer reach and arcing hooks of Martinez to deliver his own right hand.
Round 4, the round Cotto trainer Freddie Roach predicted a knockout, saw the Puerto Rican stun Martinez and force him back to the ropes. The Argentinian champion showed grit and waved him on. Little punching of true impact seemed to be finding a home for the champion, however, and down on points, the fight was certainly an uphill battle.
Throughout, Cotto’s defense impressed and his offense remained controlled and vicious heading into the second half of the fight.
Round 9, the round Martinez’s team predicted that they would stop Cotto, saw the opposite unfold as the challenger looked to end it himself, laying heavy leather on the Argentinian champion. It would turn out to be the final punishing round of the fight for Martinez as his corner stopped the bout heading into the 10th round.
Classy in defeat, Martinez admitted the first big punch in round 1 caught him cold and he never recovered from that.
The former champion’s future remains in the air, as his trainer intimated that the knee issue may have been bothering him and was the reason he elected to stop the fight, however all credit must be given to Cotto who overwhelmed the champ immediately and took the belts in outstanding fashion.
Cotto has a bevy of lucrative options open to him and cements himself as one of the marquee figures in the sport on a night that had his Puerto Rican brethren howling in Manhattan.
Miguel Cotto moves to 39-4 while Sergio Martinez falls to 51-3-2.
(photo via @trboxing)