Who needs Mayweather/Pacquiao because boxing has a Cotto vs. Martinez fight in New York at the Garden

By Rich Mancuso

So we have been waiting three years for a Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather jr. mega-fight. Who cares? Three division champion Miguel Cotto will challenge Sergio Martinez for the middleweight title at Madison Square Garden in New York City on the weekend of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Saturday night June 7th, televised on HBO Pay-Per-View, boxing fans got the fight they wanted and this one could rival, or better the Mayweather-Pacquiao confrontation we will never see.

It has been talked about the past year and Cotto returns to an arena where he has been successful. Madison Square Garden has been a second home for Cotto, a venue that will certainly have a full house.  The fight, contested one pound below the middleweight requirement, 159, give or take a pound or two.

Regardless, Cotto and Martinez, two eventual Hall of Fame inductees will make this a mega-fight as they will soon hang up the gloves.  An official announcement and press tour by the promoters, Top Rank/Cotto, and Martinez’ promoter, Lou DiBella will be held in the next couple of weeks.

There has been doubt about Cotto, (38-4-31 KO’s) that perhaps his skills have diminished. But he proved the skeptics wrong in October when he stopped a two fight losing streak with a devastating knockout over Delvin Rodriguez. Then, the talk of challenging Martinez escalated.

Martinez, (51-2-2, 28 KO’s) the 39-year old from Argentina, who has the ability to finish opponents late, and with a style that is made for Cotto, will make the seventh defense of the title. He has not fought since April of last year and is coming off surgery to his right knee.

But the story also of this fight is the animosity between the two fighters. Two years ago at a Mexican television studio, Martinez extended his hand to Cotto and was denied a greeting. That started a quiet feud and Cotto, not one to explain differences, has not made it known as to why he has this bitterness to Martinez.

It could be an ego of two fighters, though Martinez has never shown any signs of being outspoken or claims that he is the best. The champion propelled to more prominence when he stunned Paul Williams for the WBC Middleweight title with a second round knockout at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City in the second fight between the two.

In his last fight, Martinez knocked down and scored a decision over Martin Murray of England before 50,000 fans at a homecoming fight in Buenos Aires. It has always been his desire to have a mega-fight at Madison Square Garden, the venue known as a “Mecca” for boxing and where every champion believes a career is complete.

The fight could bring big numbers to pay-per-view, maybe rival what could have been for that always talked about Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.  Sources have claimed, despite the still and constant rumblings of that fight going off, that this one will create more theatre and buzz than Mayweather-Pacquiao.

These are two champions destined to make history, and the old saying in boxing is that styles make fights. Cotto and Martinez are well matched, and there is a consensus among fans that the fight will go the distance.  It may not be a fight that revives a sport, in need of a fight like this one, but it surely could highlight a first quarter of the boxing season.

Cotto has said that his career will be winding down that has made him one of the most profitable and marketable in the sport.  After a devastating loss to Antonio Margarito, there was talk he no longer had the desire. But he went on and took on Freddie Roach as his trainer in the win over Rodriguez.

The aggressive style of Cotto returned with Roach in his corner. After the knockout over Rodriguez, an opponent who may have not been in the class of Cotto, it did not matter. The champion from Puerto Rico was indeed back in the hunt for more.

Now, as his storied career comes down to a final few fights, Cotto returns again to Madison Square Garden. The challenge will be a test. More so, fight fans finally get a fight they wanted and there is no need for Mayweather and Pacquiao.

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