Sergio Martinez Credits Miguel Cotto, and Not Bad Knee, For Lopsided Loss at MSG

Albert Samaha
Cotto after the fight.

Cotto was too fast and too technically sound for Martinez. He moved beautifully, and his defense was precise. He attacked with combinations, then retreated faster than Martinez's hands could reach him. He ducked Martinez's hooks, and danced around the jabs. He cut off Martinez and trapped him against the ropes, delivering flurries to the body and hooks to the chin.

It was the finest Cotto had ever looked in the ring.

He gave much credit to his new trainer Freddie Roach, the legendary corner man with a keen eye for an opponent's weaknesses and a brilliant mind for strategy.

The night was one for the front of the Cotto highlight reel, and so fitting it took place at Madison Square Garden, Cotto's unofficial home arena. The most important moments of his career have come at the Garden. He won over New Yorkers with impressive wins at MSG over locals Pauli Malignaggi and Zab Judah. Then in late 2007, five months after the Judah fight, he beat Shane Mosely before a raucous crowd draped in Puerto Rican flags.

It was at the Garden where in 2011 he capped one of boxing's great revenge stories by knocking out Antonio Margarito. Three years earlier Margarito had handed Cotto his first loss in a fight in which many suspect Margarito cheated by loading his gloves with plaster.

On Saturday night, Cotto marched to the ring in the darkness with no entrance music. The lights turned on when he reached the apron, and the crowd exploded, waving flags and chanting CO-TTO! CO-TTO!

The cheering never relented, rising with each knock down in the first round, and steadying through the following rounds. Cotto knocked Martinez down once more in the ninth. Martinez had shown no signs of turning the fight around. His trainer knew this better than anybody. Before the 10th, he told the referee to end the fight. This was Miguel Cotto's night.

"Happiest day of my life," said Cotto. "This is the biggest achievement of my professional career."

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