Some interesting fights have been decided recently including Manny Pacquiao’s comprehensive domination of Tim Bradley in their rematch, Juan Manuel Marquez’ similarly dominant victory over Mike Alvarado and Carl Froch’s exciting knockout win over George Groves. I expected as much from Carl Froch, though I expected him to have more trouble than he did with Groves, who again fought very competitively for most of the fight. Pacquiao didn’t surprise me in the fight with Bradley, but Bradley did, fighting without any of the ferocity we saw against Provodnikov. Most surprising of all to me was the ease with with Marquez dispatched Alvarado. I’ve always felt Alvarado’s style was well balanced and that he had several strong tools in his arsenal, but Marquez, who is himself aging and has lost more than a step, exposed every weakness Alvarado had and made him look undisciplined and primitive.
The most interesting fight of the past several months for me will be tonight’s fight between Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez. Both fighters are elite-level stars in the toughest division in boxing, and both have a tremendous resume of experience behind them. The question for me has been who has lost more in the process. Even though Martinez has had more fights in his career, Cotto may have taken the more punishing damage in the long-term.
The contrast in styles is one of the most interesting aspects of the fight, as is to be expected in a Martinez fight. In this case, however, Cotto’s well balanced repertoire poses a threat from more than one angle. It’s uncertain whether Martinez will need to adjust to his speed, his power or his defense. Cotto is sure to need to adjust to the unorthodox movement and rhythm Martinez employs, and if he hopes to win, he’ll need to disrupt that overwhelming rhythm consistently enough to land shots considerable shots to the body. Martinez is too fast on his feet, even at his age, for Cotto to come forward the way he’ll need to if he’s going to get a win on points. I don’t really expect a knockout from either guy, though both have been hurt badly in fights often enough to make it a possibility.
Most of all, I hope one of my favorite fighters of all time, Cotto, can be satisfied with the gravity of this fight to feel he’s gone out on top, and consider retiring soon. His most recent victory over Delvin Rodriguez was extremely impressive, but Rodriguez has never been at the elite level, and Martinez has, for a long time. Martinez has had problems with injuries, however, in almost every fight in the past couple of years. That will be Cotto’s best chance, exploiting the wear and tear the other fighter has absorbed over the years, while trying to overcome his own. More than any in recent memory, I’m sure tonight’s fight will be fun to watch.