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Miguel Cotto: Defeating Sergio Martinez far bigger than Canelo, Quillin or Golovkin?

Lee Cleveland Updated
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With high-priced offers late last fall to face middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KO) and burgeoning superstar Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KOs), fight legend Miguel Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs) opted for the former. As a result, Miguel Cotto vs Sergio Martinez is likely for June 7 in New York City even though negotiations have been dragging on for quite some time.

(Image courtesy of HBO)

Miguel Cotto insists he would love nothing more than to become the first Puerto Rican to win four world titles in as many weight classes and fighting Sergio Martinez, not Canelo, affords him that opportunity.

And from a historical perspective, there's something that sets Sergio Martinez apart from his middleweight peers, fellow title-holders Gennady Golovkin, Felix Sturm and Peter Quillin.

Unlike Golovkin, Sturm and Quillin, WBC Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez is more than a belt-holder. The Argentine dubbed 'Maravilla' is also the reigning RING Magazine (or lineal) Middleweight Champion of the World.

Martinez, not Quillin, Sturm nor Golovkin, owns the direct lineage to titlists who competed at a time when there was only one champion.

If Cotto defeats Martinez, the Puerto Rican will follow in the footsteps of Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Robinson, Carlos Monzon, Nino Benvenuti, Emile Griffith, Jake LaMotta, Stanley Ketchel and the rest of the middleweight kings who were recognized as "champions" and not merely belt-holders.


A fighter with boxing's RING Magazine title (i.e. the lineal distinction) is best described as "the man who beat the man."

Unlike sanctioning bodies, The RING Magazine, founded in 1922, has no financially-motivated agenda and receives no reward for its services. Its purpose is to maintain the integrity of boxing, and the sport's lineal championship system is intended to reward fighters who, by satisfying 'old-school' criteria, can justify a claim as the true and only world champion in a given weight class."

The prestigious RING title can only be won by:
  • defeating the previous lineal champion in the ring or
  • via a box-off between two or more top-ranked contenders in the event the previous lineal champ retires, vacates the division or dies.

Sergio Martinez became the lineal middleweight champion on April 17, 2010 by defeating Kelly Pavlik by a unanimous decision. Pavlik earned the distinction of RING Champion by defeating Jermain Taylor who, in turn, won the lineal title by defeating Bernard Hopkins - the sole, dominant middleweight champion at the time.

By defeating Sergio Martinez, Miguel Cotto has far more to gain than just another world title. 

In essence, he can become, in boxing annals, a true champion and direct descendant of middleweight legends who, at one time, were the division's one and only champion.

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