December 6, 2021

Miguel Cotto stops Sergio Martinez in middleweight title fight at Madison Square Garden

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fightweb8s-1-webBy Mitch Abramson, New York Daily News

Cotto is now 8-1 at the Garden, a place he calls a second home.

Sergio Martinez teased Miguel Cotto in the run-up to their bout on Saturday night that Cotto had never beaten an “A” list fighter in his career.

Martinez was upset that Cotto was able to dictate pre-fight negotiations and force Martinez, the WBC middleweight champion, into a number of concessions. He had the better resume, Martinez argued, and so shouldn’t be put in that weak position.

After Cotto battered Martinez in a throwback performance, sending him to the canvas four times — three in the first round — Martinez will have to take back that argument.

Cotto ruled the negotiations and he controlled the fight as well, battering the 39-year-old Martinez before his corner stopped the fight just six seconds into the 10th round Saturday in the big room of Madison Square Garden.

With the win, Cotto became Puerto Rico’s first four-division world champion and a possible opponent for Floyd Mayweather Jr., whom he lost to in 2012. That was part of a 0-2 stint that year that led to Cotto hooking up with respected trainer Freddie Roach. The results were on display on Saturday.

Cotto is now 8-1 at the Garden, a place he calls a second home.

cotto1“It’s the happiest day of my life,” Cotto said in the ring afterward. “This is a 12-round fight, not a one-round fight. That’s why I didn’t get wild after the first round and the three knockdowns. I beat him with my left hook. He keeps his right hand low so it was easy to get the left hook in. I controlled him with my jab while backing him up. This is exactly what we did at the Wild Card gym.”

Before the fight, Cotto (39-4, 32 KO’s) made it clear he would punish Martinez if he wasn’t totally healthy.

Martinez’s right knee was operated on twice after his last two fights and he had to rise off the canvas in each of his three previous fights in order to win.

Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KO’s) endured a hellacious rehab following the second surgery in October in which he was on crutches until the middle of December and only started running two months ago. Martinez never looked sturdy against Cotto, his legs a bit wobbly and the slick movement that marked his early career a thing of the past. His knee was a constant topic of concern in his corner throughout the fight.

“It was the human thing to do to stop that fight,” Roach said.

Martinez hit the deck three times in the first round. The first sequence started with a heavy lead left hook that had Martinez buckling and falling into the ropes.

Moments later, another sweeping hook had him falling headfirst to the canvas. Martinez got up but was clearly hurt.

A gifted finisher, Cotto pursued Martinez and uncorked another sweeping left hook. Martinez went down for the second time. Seconds later, he was down yet again from another grazing punch toward the end of the round.

Martinez popped up quickly after the final two knockdowns, and he stretched and touched his toes after he got up from the third one, a frustrated look on his face.

Though Martinez was the naturally bigger fighter, it was Cotto who bullied him around the ring throughout, lowering his shoulder and getting into a crouch and firing his punches.

Martinez went down again in the second round but it was ruled a slip by the Canadian referee, Michael Griffin.

Martinez bounced up again, a frustrated look on his face.

Martinez seemed to gain his footing in the fourth and fifth rounds when he was able to put some distance between himself and Cotto and land some stiff right hands that kept Cotto at bay.

Cotto landed a series of digging body shots in the seventh round that had Martinez moving backward into the ropes. Martinez’s glove touched the canvas again in the eighth round but the referee ruled it a slip.

Earlier in the round, Martinez complained of a head butt, but Cotto shook his head at Martinez as if to say, “Nope, not going to work,” and the referee stayed silent on the sequence. In the ninth, Martinez’s right eye began to close and his face began to show the strain of sustained punishment.

Martinez’s glove nearly touched the canvas again in the ninth as Cotto pressed him into the ropes. The referee incorrectly ruled it a knockdown. Soon, the fight was over.

PHOTOS: Ken Goldfield/(Ken Goldfield for Ny Daily News)

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