*** To watch full "Cotto vs. Martinez" video highlights replay click here. ***
I love boxing, but it doesn't love me.
It's not even the corruption, overly-expensive pay-per-view (PPV) events, or the promotional cold war robbing us of once-in-a-generation super fights. It's watching great men grow old in the ring against opponents with no sympathy for their plight.
Last night (Sat., June 7, 2014), one of the most entertaining, charismatic and hard-working fighters grew old. After nine rounds of utter punishment from Miguel Cotto, Sergio Martinez's corner stopped the fight.
Questions swirled around the 39-year-old Martinez in the pre-fight buildup -- he'd undergone knee surgeries after both of his most recent fights, an ominous event for a movement-based fighter. Despite being bigger than Cotto, who did his best career work at welterweight and below, the venerable WBC Middleweight boxing champion was only a moderate favorite.
"Junito" showed why in the first round, dropping Martinez three times with the powerful left hooks and berserker offense he rediscovered under the tutelage of Freddie Roach. Though Martinez survived the round, at no point did he trouble Cotto through nine painful rounds. Whether because of a fragile right knee, general wear-and-tear, or the defensive aptitude of Puerto Rico's Cotto, Martinez's deadly left hand never made a dent in his foe's charge.
Martinez buckled in the ninth from a stiff Cotto jab, and -- despite begging his corner for one more round -- Martinez's trainer made the correct decision and did not send his fighter out for the tenth frame.
It's a tremendous win for Cotto, who has looked better in his past two fights than he has, perhaps, since his thrashing at the hands of Antonio Margarito years ago. But, as happy as I am for "Junito," one of this generation's defining fighters, watching the lionhearted Martinez's body betray him was painful.
Cotto, who started his career at Junior Welterweight, is now the WBC middleweight champion of the world. The question is whether he will face the offensive juggernaut that is Gennady Golovkin should the latter defeat Daniel Geale later this year.
Prior to that demolition, the under card had its ups-and-downs, starting with a potential Knockout of the Year from Andy Lee and ending with an embarrassing performance from Marvin Sonsona. If you want the whole rundown of the "Cotto vs. Martinez" event, including play-by-play coverage of the entire HBO PPV broadcast, click here.