By Sean Crose
Those who witnessed the final Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto press conference leading up to Saturday’s big fight in Madison Square Garden owe both men a huge debt of gratitude. For after what seemed like an excruciatingly long affair in which everyone and his brother got a chance to speak, the two men kept their comments brief and to the point. Martinez himself told everyone that he hoped they weren’t bored.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
We were Sergio, but it’s not your fault.
After last Saturday’s explosive Froch-Groves fight in London, it’s understandable why the forces behind Cotto-Martinez want to build this weekend’s brawl into an historic affair. That strategy worked in England and it may well work here in the United States, too. Still, at times on Wednesday it felt like the press was sitting through an endless awards ceremony rather than an event leading up to a boxing match.
Like a drawn out undercard, the whole affair seemed unnecessary. All people want to hear from are the fighters, those who prepare them for the fight, and one or two people involved with the promotion. That’s it. Sadly, however, almost an hour had passed between the scheduled start of the conference on Wednesday and the point when either of the fighters or their trainers got up to speak.
When these men did speak, however, they kept it short and sweet. Pablo Sarmiento, Martinez’ trainer, wore a black hat and a loud red jacket, a fashion statement far more memorable than his words could possibly be. Still, he kept it short and sweet, describing the training camp as “excellent, spectacular.”
Freddie Roach proved even less talkative, simply letting Martinez know he was in for a fight before addressing Sampson Lewcowicz, Martinez’ manager. For Lewcowicz had been jocularly ribbing Cotto’s camp from the microphone before stating that he appreciated Roach’s sense of humor. “I’m glad you think I’m funny,” Roach quipped to the balding Lewcowicz, “I like your hairpiece.”
Anyone expecting the fighters to drone on much longer than their trainers (and it’s hard to imagine anyone who might have) was undoubtedly disappointed, for these boxers proved to be men of few words on Wednesday.
“I come prepared,” Martinez told the crowd. “I come to box. I come to fight. I come to be in a war.” These blunt, perhaps even sharp words served as a nice counterpoint to the overly-somber tone the event had taken. “On Saturday,” the middleweight champion continued, “we finish the talking and we see the reality.”
For his part, Cotto seemed eager for the big moment to arrive. “I’m looking forward to our fight next Saturday,” the icon from Puerto Rico said. “It’s been a tremendous camp…I’m really prepared for war.”
Word is that Cotto is indeed prepared for battle. He’s clearly developed a strong bond with Roach, a strange turn of events since both men have been accused of being less than affable in the past. What’s more, Roach seems to truly believe Cotto can take the masterful Argentinian, Martinez, apart.
Without doubt, this is an interesting matchup. Here are two men, perhaps past their primes, but still lethal, ready to put it all on the line in front of a sold out Madison Square Garden. Like Froch-Groves, it’s a battle where the fight itself, not the personalities of the boxers, is the draw. For Cotto and Martinez aren’t blabbermouths – at least in comparison to some individuals in this age of Adrien Broner. It will be good to see these two gunfighters face off in the ring a short time from now, especially with both men promising action.
“That’s what people are going to see,” Cotto said before stepping away from the microphone, “a real war next Saturday.”
COTTO / MARTÍNEZ / ROACH / DIBELLA
PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
“Winning this fight will be bout ring generalship. Miguel must keep himself in good position and control the ring. This is what we have worked on for nine weeks in training camp. Miguel never knew how to do this before we began working on it. Miguel will have to cut the ring off, stay off the ropes and stay out of the corners. He now knows how to do it. He is a great student and one of the most disciplined fighters I have ever trained.
“Sergio is in over his head on this one. We worked on fighting southpaws and have it down to a science now. Miguel will have no trouble with Sergio’s style.
“Working opposite Miguel with Manny Pacquiao gave me great insight to Miguel’s flaws. It taught me his weaknesses and during this camp I was able to eliminate them
“The wear and tear of the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr fight ruined Martinez. He has nothing left. Miguel is the fresher fighter.”
“Can I carry my power up to 160? I’m a puncher and my power has cm with me from 140 to here at 160.
“It’s going to be a great weekend for Puerto Rico with the fight the Festival and Tito Trinidad’s induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
“It’s a lot easier to make weight and do my job at 160 pounds. Weight isn’t a big issue for this fight.
“I’m not worried about Sergio and what he has done or what he will do. I’m only worried about what I need to do…what Freddie has taught me…what we worked on in training camp. The man with the best skills will win this fight
“This was the best training camp I’ve ever had because of my team – Freddie, Gavin and Marvin. A lot of people say Michael Jordan wouldn’t be Michael Jordan without Scottie Pippen. Freddie Roach is my Scottie Pippen. Our chemistry together has been great.
“To be the first Puerto Rican to win a world title in four divisions would be an achievement. Gomez, Benitez, there have been a lot of good fighters from Puerto Rico before me. When I started boxing, Tito Trinidad was our big star. A victory on Saturday night would make me feel happy and proud. I would like to be remembered as a boxer who tried to do his best.”
“There are no issues with the sheath I will be using for my knee on fight night. Once the commission saw what it actually was I was using, they were completely ok with it.
“It was very hard for me to come back from this, (the knee and shoulder injury) but I have an excellent team behind me, and more than that I have my ego and that is what drove me to get back to where I was before the injuries occurred.
“Not all Argentineans are looking forward to the World Cup, as not everyone is a soccer fan but I can assure you that everyone in Argentina is definitely looking forward to and paying attention to this fight.
“It is not only Austin Trout that made it a difficult fight for Cotto, but Mayweather and Pacquiao as well. We have looked at all of those fights, and picked up on different things that have worked against Cotto. My trainer Pablo Sarmiento has come up with a great game plan and you will see me execute it perfectly on Saturday night.
“I will never stop doing what I do. It has been very painful and I have suffered a lot, but to be the best, these are the type of things that you have to go through and sacrifice.
“It is not only about just me or Chino Maidana, but it is about all of the fighters and champions in our country right now. We are all representing our country at the highest level and this is great for Argentina.
“I don’t hate Cotto, never. I get upset with some of the things that he does and says, but I don’t hate him. We are professionals and we must act like professionals.
“I don’t know who brought up the issue about the sheath I am wearing on my knee. Whether it was the commission or Cotto’s team directly I am not sure. The only one who will pay for it though is Miguel Cotto on June 7th.
“I feel great, and you will see that come Saturday night.
“I am totally 100% healthy. My doctor who is here with me told me that I only need to wear it as a precaution, so I am following my doctor’s orders.
“I am very motivated for this fight. I am totally on my game and everyone will see that on June 7th.
“Regardless of what Freddie Roach says, Cotto will get beat up on Saturday night.
“Freddie Roach is a joker and a big talker. He was saying how a cyclist can not beat a world champion, and look at what happened with Chavez. He says Chavez only trained for 5 days for that fight, but that is not my fault, it is both Chavez and his team’s fault. Freddie is a good trainer and a good business man, he knows how to sell a fight.
“After this fight I will sit down with my team and we will discuss the future. I have one fight left with HBO and I am 100 percent going to fulfill that. So for anyone saying that this is my last fight, they are wrong.
“I am getting asked the same questions over and over again about my knee, and I know that the media is just doing their job. I can assure you though that I am 100%. I am old, but not by that much.
“Cotto has taken a lot of punishment in his fights but I am expecting the best Cotto on Saturday night.
“My style is the style that I have used since the amateurs. I have done this for the past 17 years and I won’t change. It has always worked for me so why change now? My best defense is with my legs not with my arms.
“Regarding getting knocked down: It is not how you get knocked down, it is how you get up and I always get up. That’s what makes me the champion that I am.
“Many people in the press and the boxing world say that my style is not likeable, but I enjoy it. I am different and I am very happy with the way I am. The critics follow me because I bring something different in the ring than any other boxer. I am unique.
“We got a request a couple months ago that we had to have Sergio get a MRI on both his knee and hand. It is interesting that this have never come up before in the past. It was the commission’s request though, and we abided by it. I commend David Berlin and the NYSAC though as he came to a very quick decision and determined that the sheath is ok for Sergio to wear on fight night.
“Do I think people were messing with us regarding the whole issue with the knee and sheath? Yes, absolutely.
“When watching Sergio train in Miami, Sergio was working with a young fighter and he was telling him to think with his feet. A lot of fighters miss this concept. Sergio has perfected it.