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Diego Morilla’s Sunday Report Card: Cotto Dominates Martinez

Our resident boxing writer Diego Morilla serves up a full weekend wrap-up of the most relevant boxing events in the worldwide scene.

Cotto-Martinez

Our resident boxing writer Diego Morilla serves up a full weekend wrap-up of the most relevant boxing events in the worldwide scene. Every fight that matters is right here, in one place, and at one click away. Follow Morilla on Twitter at @MorillaBoxing

New York, NY, June 7th

Miguel Cotto TKO 9 Sergio Martinez, lineal/WBC middleweight title

It was supposed to be a grinding, grueling fight between two warriors, but in the end it was merely a ceremonial pass of the torch. Cotto (39-4, 32 KO) was a heavy underdog coming in, even as a three-division champ who clawed his way out of more than one war in the past, but this time it looked as if he had bit more than he could chew. Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KO) was the undisputed lineal 160 champ after beating stronger, bigger men and was considered one of the game’s top pound-for-pound fighters in the world until his lackluster defense over Martin Murray last year, considered by many to be a temporary slip. But this time Cotto dug deep and summoned all of his strengths to deliver the historic performance that he had promised his people, and in doing so he reached a milestone that no other Puerto Rican fighter has ever reached when he became a champion in four divisions. And he did it with a superb performance that included a bone-chilling first round that featured three knockdowns in short succession by Martinez, a fighter who came in undefeated in championship bouts. Fueled by an unexpected advantage in the scorecards, Cotto simply proceeded to dominate the rest of the fight in every department, being deadly accurate with his left jab (as expected for the converted southpaw that he is) and establishing a pace that Martinez simply could not withstand. The fifth and sixth rounds were Martinez’s best (or least-worse), but after another failed round in the eight and a touch on the canvas that was declared a knockdown in the ninth, Martinez’s team simply decided that it was time to rescue their fighter from further punishment. The result, in the end, was as much a crushing failure for Martinez as it was a crowning achievement for Cotto, who now stands as one of the greatest fighters his island-nation has ever produced.

The winner goes on to: A stay at 160 would be very unlikely for Cotto, who entered the ring barely below the division limit and weighted 155 lbs officially. A rematch with either Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao, however (with the title on the line) could be a distinct possibility and a multi-million dollar bout.

The loser goes to: Hopefully, a graceful retirement, without even a farewell fight in his homeland as a curtain call. His boxing IQ and his style are still there, but his body has simply quit on him.

Marvin Sonsona SD 10 Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., junior featherweights

Dirty, dirty affair, indeed. The first round made it look like it was going to be a rout for Sonsona (19-1-1, 15 KO), who knocked down tough former titlist Vazquez (23-3-1, 19 KO) hard with a body blow that doubled him over in pain, but then the fight turned into a mud-wrestling-meets-MMA indescribable mess, with all kinds of illegal punches flying around, a few falls to the mat by both fighters during some of the many entanglements in which they engaged during the bout, and more. In the end, an inexplicable card favored Vazquez (who in spite of not even coming close to win managed to claw his way into the bout on courage alone) and two others favored Sonsona, all by the same score of 96-92, to put an end to an excruciatingly dull co-main event.

The winner goes on to: Sonsona was once a very promising fighter, but he managed to become an overachiever who always seems to escape with an undeserved decision after a lackluster performance. This was no exception, and it will take a very solid victory to clear his image after this mess.

The loser goes on to: Sadly, Vazquez is running out of options as a fighter with limited marketability and limited ability to impress and win in his most important fights. His dad left some pretty big shoes to fill, and unfortunately Junior is still way below the family standards.

Javier Maciel SD 10 Jorge Melendez, junior middleweights

When you are called up to one of the biggest fights of your life in the world’s most famous venue on 10 days notice, doing your best is not going to be enough. And Maciel (29-3, 20 KOs) seemed to understand this clearly. He put together the best performance of his life and came out victorious against a tough and talented but thoroughly baffled Melendez (28-4-1, 26 KO) who simply couldn’t get his act together. The Argentine challenger, known as “The Beast,” had a very solid all-around performance in which he dominated the in-fighting, looked great in the mid-long range, and exerted a very effective and controlled aggression on Melendez, who never got the spaces he needed to create any danger. It was by far the most entertaining and emotional fight of the night up to that point. Melendez had a nightmare of a round in the 4th when he was dropped and then lost a point for low blows, and that pretty much defined the rest of the bout for him. He failed to claw his way back into the fight, and Maciel had his way with him for most of the fight. Melendez came out determined to look for the stoppage in the 10th and final round, but soon ran out of gas and Maciel put the finishing touches in style to solidify his claim to victory.

The winner goes on to: In a time of superbly talented and entertaining Argentine fighters, Maciel could easily add his name to the mix with a terrific showing that raised quite a few eyebrows.

Andy Lee KO 5 John Jackson, junior middleweights

Early candidate to KO of the year? You bet! Jackson (18-2, 15 KO) came on strong in the early going and switching to a southpaw position to confound his naturally left-handed foe. Lee (33-2, 23 KO) had trouble trying to figure him out and visited the canvas at the 2:00 mark of the first round, landing hard on the seat of his trunk and making his numerous Irish supporters fear an early KO loss. He failed to fight back from his early slump and continued to look vulnerable in the rounds to come, with Jackson switching back and forth between orthodox and southpaw stances and being equally effective on both. But out of nowhere, as Jackson as cornering him against the ropes, Lee let out a thunderous right hook that sent Jackson down on his face and looking completely out. The fight was immediately stopped with Lee down in the scorecards and looking beatable but recovering to score a frightening stoppage in the first televised fight of the evening.

The winner goes on to: Lee looked too thin and frail in his drop back to junior middleweight, but he may have a chance to come back to the big picture if he manages to throw more punches and stop trying to be a counterpuncher, which he is not.

Felix Verdejo TKO 1 Engelberto Valenzuela, lightweights

A former Olympian, Puerto Rican, supremely talented and good-looking. It looks like Verdejo (13-0, 10 KO) has it all. As it turns out, he only needs a serious matchmaker, as it became painfully evident in this shameful matchup that didn’t belong in a PPV card. Knowing he was up against a soft touch, and trying to perform against a sold-out crowd, Verdejo went after Valenzuela from the get-go, landing from all angles in what amounted to a live, paid target practice session. Valenzuela went down hard barely a minute into the first round, and when he was being pummeled against the ropes the fight was finally stopped with only 1:17 minutes of action on the clock. It was a safe but meaningless victory for a fighter who deserves a more serious test at this point of his career.

The winner goes on to: Verdejo has the looks, the speed, the style and the talent to be the next Felix Trinidad. All he needs is a serious challenge in front of him to start growing into a contender, and soon.

Newcastle, England, June 7th

Paul Butler SD 12 Stuart Hall, 12 rounds, IBF bantamweight title

A nice scrap had Butler (16-0, 8 KOs) lifting the IBF bantamweight title from Hall (16-3-2, 7 KOs) with a split using his superior speed and boxing skill in a hotly-contested affair. Scores of 115-113, 117-111 for Butler and one for 115-113 for Hall defined the bout.

Schwerin, Germany, June 7th

Juergen Braehmer UD 12 Roberto Bolonti, WBA light heavyweight title

Another easy victory for a local fighter in Germany, for a change. Braehmer (44-2, 32 KO) is a superbly talented champion who can bang and box, but for some reason he is happy fighting second-tier contenders in his native land instead of taking on more difficult challenges in America. This time, he disposed of Argentina’s Bolonti (35-3, 24 KO) in workmanlike fashion, wining handily but failing to entertain and capture the imagination of his compatriots. Sure, he did get a dominating nod of 118-109 and 119-108 (twice), but he is becoming a harder and harder sell even in his own country.

The winner goes on to: Tough situation for Braehmer, who has enough talent to beat the Bolontis of the world everyday but has been unable to secure worthy and lucrative challenges.

David Price UD 10 Yaroslav Zavorotnyi, heavyweights

Firat Arslan UD 8 Tamas Bajzath, cruiserweights

Two big fighters in recovery mode continued their comeback road to the top level with two unanimous decisions. First, former cruiserweight champion Arslan (34-7-2, 21 KO) took care of a very undeserving opponent in Bajzath (9-11-1, 5 KOs) dropping him in the eighth round and dominating him throughout the bout. And later, Price (17-2, 15 KO), a towering former Olympian, scored another confidence-building victory, this time by decision with scorecards of 97-92, 100-90, 98-92 against a decent opponent in Zavorotnyi (16-6, 14 KO).

Indio, California, June 6th

Hugo Centeno Jr. UD 10 Gerardo Ibarra, middleweights

Francisco Santana UD 10 Eddie Gomez, junior middleweights

Diego De La Hoya TKO 3 Rigoberto Casillas, featherweights

Terrell Gausha UD 10 James Winchester, middleweights

Four promising fighters saw action in an action-packed ShoBox card, with a few interesting surprises. In the intriguing main event matchup between unbeaten prospects, Centeno (21-0, 11 KO), grabbed a unanimous decision in 10 rounds over Ibarra, (14-1, 8 KO), a talented but lackluster fighter with just too much time between one fight and the next one to be considered an active threat for anyone. Previously, Gomez, (16-1, 10 KO), a decorated amateur, lost his unbeaten mark in a hard fought unanimous decision (96-94, 97-93 and 98-92) against an inspired Santana (20-3-1, 9 KO) in a step-up fight that exposed him as a green fighter with lots to work on. Earlier, Oscar’s little cousin Diego De la Hoya (5-0, 4 KOs) kept his unbeaten mark intact with a solid TKO victory over a hopeless Casillas (10-12-1, 8 KO) in three rounds, and in the opener, Gausha, (10-0, 5 KO), a 2012 Olympian, got a good 10-round workout out of trialhorse Winchester, (16-10, 6 KO), winning by scores of 100-89 in all three cards after scoring a knockdown in the eighth round.

Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 6th

Juan Carlos Reveco UD 12 Felix Alvarado, WBA flyweight title

When I started watching the video for this fight, I really had to check whether I was watching the first or the last round. That’s the intensity that these two fighters brought to their meeting from the first bell on. In the end, Reveco (34-1, 18 KO) took home a hard-fought victory by scores of 112-109, 115-112 and an inexplicable115-110, but even the local Argentine press protested the referee’s constant protective actions in detriment of a terrific challenger in Alvarado (18-2, 15 KO), a superb fighter who showed no respect for the local titlist and took the fight to him from start to finish.

The winner goes on to: In a perfect world, a rematch should be in order for these two tremendous little fighters, hopefully getting more exposure this time.

Paris, France, June 6th

Carlos Takam UD 12 Tony Thompson, heavyweights

Minor upset her. Or maybe someone was due to lose. In any case, Takam (30-1-1, 23 KO) scored a solid victory against a serious and respected former title challenger in Thompson (39-5, 26 KO) in a workmanlike performance over 12 rounds. Always dangerous, always solid, Thompson did get a few rounds in his bag with his customary counterpunching work, but Takam, fresh off a great performance against Mike Perez in a draw, was determined to take the initiative, and he never let go. The scorecards of 117-111 (twice) and 119-109 were merely a formality, and so was the pointless, meaningless title at stake.

The winner goes on to: Takam could be a wild card in the increasingly interesting heavyweight picture. One more challenge won at this level would put him in the conversation for more serious commitments.

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