Speaking on a conference call on Tuesday to promote his June 7th fight with Miguel Cotto, WBC middleweight champ Sergio Martinez made it clear he’s trying to put all bitterness behind him. “There is no hatred,” he said through an interpreter. “I’m a professional. I have no hatred at all.”
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Yet for those who have been following the lead up to the upcoming showdown in New York, it’s been clear Cotto really rubbed the Argentinian titlist the wrong way during negotiations. “We kept having to call Sergio with more and more concessions,” promoter Lou DiBella remembered. “There were a lot of concessions that were made to Cotto’s perception of his star value.”
“Absurd requests,” Martinez recalled, “absurd demands.” Clearly Martinez meant it when he called Cotto a diva. Still, the man insisted that he’s now zeroing in on the upcoming bout rather than past insults. “I’m totally focused on the fight,” he claimed. “The words are over and it’s almost time for the fight.”
DiBella concurred. “He (Martinez) is a pros pro. He’s a true professional. I don’t think he’s focused on anything besides beating up Miguel Cotto.”
Exciting words. Then again, this bout may well be an exciting matchup. A very exciting one. Martinez is naturally the bigger man. He’s also the clear favorite. Still, people well versed in boxing are giving Puerto Rican icon Cotto a chance. Why? Well, he’s training with Freddie Roach and claims to be feeling like a new man.
Also, Roach himself claims he’s been urinating blood because of the body blows Cotto’s been throwing in training (“We just hope he doesn’t hurt Freddie too bad so Freddie can make it to the fight,” Martinez quipped). Perhaps more importantly, however, Martinez is pushing 40. He’s also been operated on as of late.
“The operation was very painful,” Martinez admitted. “It’s very hard to come back from that, but this is the road that I chose.” Did these words mean Martinez would be showing up to Madison Square Garden this June in less than perfect condition? Would he not be at his best when he finally faced Cotto in the ring?
“I’m going to be fine come fight time,” he insisted. “I am just the same as I was when there were no knee problems.” Whether these words were true or whether Martinez merely believed they were true remains to be seen. One thing was certain during Tuesday’s call, however: Martinez was confident.
“This fight is definitely not going the distance,” he proclaimed boldly. “It’s going to end before the scheduled distance.” One might wonder where such confidence comes from. Martinez, though, has his reasons for believing as he does.
“Miguel Cotto does not have the power at this weight,” he said. “The most important factor in this fight is the intelligence that I’m going to use.” The man’s been known for a while as a decorated ring general – but it also seems Martinez actually views himself as being a far greater tactician than the great Cotto.
Martinez also spoke of a special strategy which would be employed against Cotto during the bout. What exactly that strategy might entail, the man didn’t say. “The plan is not totally devised,” he said. “I can’t reveal it because it’s not one hundred percent finished.” But that wasn’t the only reason why he wasn’t talking. “I’d prefer,” Martinez claimed, “that it (the strategy) would be a surprise for Miguel Cotto.”
And perhaps a surprise for some fans, as well.