TWO LEGENDS FIGHT FOR PRIDE : Sergio Martinez vs Miguel Cotto

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Cotto vs Martinez

7th June on HBO Pay Per View 9PM ET / 6PM PT
Madison Square Garden, New York
12 rounds for :
    Martinez's WBC world middleweight
title (159 lbs / 71kg catch weight)
PREDICTION : Sergio Martinez

Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez and Miguel Cotto are obviously two complete fighters who have built up big names for themselves in boxing. With these types of fighters there will be a lot of improvisation going on during the fight but the main strategy is fairly obvious. Sergio will elusively circle the ring looking to get off lead left hands from his southpaw (left handed) stance and Cotto will attempt to cut off the ring and land jabs and left hooks.  There are a lot of story lines going into this fight that you've likely already heard, the main ones being Sergio's previous injuries and Cotto's move up to a larger middleweight division. This article will focus mainly on the strategy of the fight and what to look for when watching what might be a "Fight of the Year" contender.

Main Strategy

Sergio Movement - Sergio rarely stays still and fights straight up. Rather he constantly circles the ring creating angles. This is often referred to as 'running' by opponents who don't have the skill to handle this style. This is because when a fighter is moving laterally they are very hard to hit unless they are backed up against the ropes. The opponent can never get their feet set to load up on power shots. To fight in this style requires rare footwork skills of which Sergio is exceptional. Most of the time Sergio circles to his left for the reason that this allows him to better throw his favorite punch which is the lead left hand.

Cotto cuts off the ring. See how he stays over the opponents left shoulder.
Cotto cut off ring - Against Sergio's movement the only thing Cotto can do and which his trainer Freddie Roach often emphasizes is 'cutting off the ring'. As Sergio circles to his left (Cotto's right) Cotto will need to position himself so as to be over Sergio's left shoulder, moving laterally to maintain this position vs Sergio's movement. Therefore if Sergio moves to his left, Cotto will be right infront of him. If he tries to move to his right, Cotto can land jabs or hooks with his favoured left hand. The main point is that it backs Sergio to the ropes and blocks his escape routes restricting his movement. The point of shading his opponents left shoulder is that it funnels him into Cotto's left side where he can land his best shot, the left hook.

- The combination of thee strategies if carried out as predicted could make for a combustible situation. Cotto will be lined up directly opposite Sergio's dangerous left hand straight and Sergio straight in front of Cotto's jab / left hook. It then becomes a battle of who executes their best punch better.

Other fight notes

Cotto - is naturally left handed but fights in an orthodox stance (right handed stance). This enables him to keep his stronger left hand as a lead to land jabs and hooks. He is not so good with his right hand.

"The Martinez": Sergio slips the jab while countering with his straight left.
Martinez - While he is good with both hands his favourite is his lead left straight punch. As he is circling he likes to lead with this shot and then spin out (similar to Pacquiao). However he is best known for his left hand counter punch now dubbed "The Martinez". As his opponent throws his left (usually a jab) Martinez simultaneously throws his left hand while slipping to the outside of his opponents shot. This requires impeccable timing and accuracy and it is rarely demonstrated better than Sergio.
- Cotto needs to 'cut the distance' and get in close to land his best power shots. This will be very difficult against a moving Martinez who has an exceptional reach advantage. Sergio also likes to throw straight lefts to the body to keep his opponent at a distance.

These fighters represent the epitome of intelligence and discipline in boxing. Therefore their strategies will be well planned and the fight will come down to who executes it better on the night. Martinez is significantly bigger and faster with his feet and hands. It is therefore hard to see what Cotto can bring to the table that gives him any advantage. He had better hope Sergio's past injuries are still bothering him and slow him down, otherwise it may be a career ending fight. The odds on this fight have Martinez as a solid favourite at 1.44. Not great odds but still the best bet for this fight between two legends.