Cotto’s partisan Puerto Ricans may have little to cheer

Boxing purists will be treated to a potential fight of the year this weekend from New York.

Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto clash on Saturday night at the sport’s iconic venue Madison Square Garden with the WBC middleweight championship on the line.

Martinez, the champion, may be 39 but he is still fairly fresh having built up his career in relative obscurity until first causing an upset by defeating Kelly Pavlik for the world middleweight title four years ago.

The Argentinian slugger is now one of the sport’s most respected fighters, having seen off the challenge of the likes of Paul Williams in a sensational second round knockout and comfortably outpointing Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. In a 54-bout career, Martinez has only lost twice and recorded 28 knockouts. An elusive and hard-hitting southpaw, he will not be intimated by the partisan Puerto Ricans baying for their hero on the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day parade.

Cotto is a little shop-worn at 33, having been through wars against some exceptional fighters. Only beaten four times in 42 contests, his losses were to Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Austin Trout and the notorious Antonio Margarito, who was suspected of inserting a form of plaster in his gloves. Although the Mexican denied having tampered hand wraps, he was banned for a while when caught trying to insert plaster casts just before his next fight, against Shane Mosley. Cotto gained revenge over Margarito in a rematch by ninth round stoppage.

Cotto may have the overwhelming backing of the crowd but Martinez looks capable of hanging onto his crown through a unanimous decision, possibly late stoppage.