Sergio Martinez talks Cotto fight
LOU DiBELLA: Hello everyone and thanks for joining us on the call for what will be a great event. Cotto-Martínez, or Martínez-Cotto as we like to call it, for the Middleweight Championship of the World, Sergio Martínez against future Hall-of-Famer Miguel Cotto. Sergio began his training in Spain and spent about a month and a half there has moved his training camp to Miami, Florida where it has gone very well. We are expecting a sell-out and right now are moving in that direction. Tickets are still available to the public at $750, $500, $300, $200, $100 and $50 and can get them at the Madison Square Garden box office or any Ticketmaster outlet.
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: I would like to than everyone that is present for their interest in the fight and for taking place in this media conference.
How are your knees holding up and have you been able to run in training?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: My knees are feeling great. I have been running in the mornings on the treadmill. It’s been a great camp and I am feeling great and haven’t felt this good in a long time.
What is your take on Miguel Cotto being just a couple pounds over the weight 30-days out?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: That is more than likely the strategy of Miguel Cotto. It shows that he is in great shape coming into this fight but once the bell rings Miguel Cotto will be the lighter man in the ring.
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: The recuperation was very painful. I was on crutches for nine months and it is very hard to come back from that, but this is the road that I chose and I enjoy the achievement of coming back from something like this. Everything is going to be fine come fight time.
How close are you to being 100%?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: Right now I am just the same as when there were no knee problems. I have overcome all obstacles.
Regarding your comments at the opening press conference as well as the HBO Face-Off this past weekend, it seems as though Sergio has dislike for Cotto, which is odd for him…
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: There is no hatred. I am a professional. Any hatred whatsoever is left behind. I am only focused on training for the fight and to beat Cotto on June 7.
No animosity towards Miguel?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: Right now we are down the stretch. The words are over and my focus is getting in the ring. Those words mean nothing now. I am just getting ready for the fight. Wait for the bell to ring and it’s on.
Lou, you have seen Sergio and he was always mild-mannered towards other opponents.
LOU DIBELLA: There was a bit of a chip on his shoulder with [Julio César] Chávez Jr. because the title was taken from his waist outside of the ring and not inside the ring. There was a chip during the promotion but when you get closer to the fight, like he said, his focus is now on the fight. This was not an easy negotiation – we had to keep calling Sergio with more concessions that a champion doesn’t generally have to make and at that time he was not pleased and I think that came out at some of the press conferences very clearly as well as some of the interviews. If you saw the Face-Off with Max Kellerman you could see that he was upset about certain things but I think he has channeled that to his benefit. Right now he is fixated on giving Cotto a beating and walking out of Madison Square Garden the middleweight champion. Look there were a lot of concessions that were made due to Cotto’s star value and concessions that he wanted that a champion doesn’t normally give, but Sergio’s attitude was that he wanted Miguel Cotto and he wanted this fight badly. He thought it was a great opportunity and he always wanted to fight in the big room at Madison Square Garden before he retired and to prove himself at the Mecca of Boxing, and in order to get the fight we had to swallow some things we didn’t want to swallow.
Do you believe that his knee is good?
LOU DiBELLA: I believe that his knee is as good as it was before the Chávez fight and I believe that he is in great shape. I saw him train in Florida and I saw some things I haven’t been able to see in some of the other fights where his knees were bothering him. I saw great lateral movement. He could plant and throw with real authority and power. Particularly the fact that he could move in all directions without any kind of severe pain. I would like to be in my early 30’s than my early 50’s and I’m sure that Sergio would rather be in his early 20’s than his late 30’s but I think in terms of his physical health, the year off – a year to rehabilitate, a year to rest – and just work in terms of strengthening his body – I think is going to be a huge advantage for Sergio Martínez – for his knee, for his hand, for his elbow, for everything that ached him and I think you are going to really see a great Sergio Martínez on June 7.
Is the fight at 159 lbs?
LOU DiBELLA: It is 159 lbs. or less and that is one of the concessions that we had to make. In my mind a pound off is just silly. It’s a middleweight title and it should be 160 lbs, but frankly Sergio has never weighed in at 160 before so I don’t think it’s going to be a big issue to weigh in at 159. But that is one of those concessions that we found annoying during the course of the negotiations.
Are you bothered because you are not receiving the credit you deserve as a champion?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: No, it does not bother me at all. It is something I have to keep working on, in order to achieve it… However, his demands rob on the absurd.
Why are you training in Miami?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: Because it is very close to New York and Madrid as well. My doctor has to travel from Madrid. If I had decided to train in California, I would have had to cross the entire country to get to New York.
Freddie Roach said Miguel is really throwing the hook to the body so hard that they are making it through his chest protector – do you fear Miguel’s power?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: Right now we just hope that Miguel doesn’t hurt Freddie too bad so that Freddie can’t make it to the fight on June 7. That is my main concern right now.
What do you think about Cotto’s power?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: Of course I realize that Miguel does not have the same power at this weight that he had at 147, but I am the one that has the power in this case. I am the power-puncher of the two of us. But the most important fact in this fight is going to be the intelligence that I am going to be able to use in this fight.
How do you imagine this fight with Cotto?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: I think it will be a great fight for the fans, very good for boxing fans. It will be a fight that when I start to find my rhythm, my timing and the right distance, the fight will be over.
Do you think you will win the fight by KO?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: I’m sure that I will win the fight by knockout because I’m training in a very hard and intense way and with such motivation that everyday I’m hitting harder, throwing more punches. Whatever Cotto will do in the ring, doesn’t matter to me, I don’t care. What is important is for me to be the day of the fight in the same state that I’m working right now.
You already have 39 years, you have a year without fighting and with accumulations of injuries. You think this could be your last fight?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: Could be, but I hope it isn’t. It could be. But first we have to finish our contract with HBO. We have one more fight and I have to respect that.
Do you feel disrespected?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: I don’t consider it a lack or respect, just absurd requests and absurd demands. I have put that in the past and I am totally focused on wrapping up training and fighting on June 7.
Are you worried about the Cotto NYC crowd and how it will affect the outcome of the fight?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: As far as the judges are concerned – they won’t have to do much work that evening because this fight is definitely not going the distance – it will end before the scheduled number of rounds.
Do you think with a win Sergio will get respect that he deserves?
LOU DiBELLA: I think he will get respect and I think he should also get respect for the obstacles he has overcome in the course of a career fighting well into and has had a string of fights and title defenses that rival any of the opposition that Cotto has fought and he has also fought through injuries as well as the politics of boxing. I think ultimately he will get the credit he deserves.
LOU DIBELLA: We had the same issues when we fought Chávez. He had to give up his title to fight Dzinziruk instead of the mandatory and Chávez went on to get the belt in a fight with Zbik in a fight on the same network that Sergio fought on. We have had to overcome a lot of treatment that was inappropriate to a fighter of his stature and he’s proven himself time and time again and he going to prove himself again on June 7 in front of sold out Madison Square Garden and a huge pay-per-view audience, so his legacy keeps growing. The people that know give him the respect that he deserves and before he’s done that respect will be universal.
Do you think he needs to win to get universal respect?
LOU DiBELLA: He shouldn’t have to but this is a huge fight in the most famous arena in the world against the most proven pay-per-view fighter he has ever fought and the biggest name fighter he has ever fought, so in terms of Sergio’s legacy I’m not going to pretend – this fight is huge.
SAMPSON LEWKOWICZ: I agree with everything that Lou has said but I would like to add that Sergio Martínez has passed all the tests – MRI on the knee and MRI on the hand – everything was perfectly done and he is 100% healthy, not 80% or 90% – just to make sure that everyone knows he will come in healthy and it will be a great fight and I think it will be the pay-per-view of the year.
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: When I win I will get the universal respect. This is a very, very important fight – one of the biggest of my career. I do feel that I have earned respect form the boxing community but it will be universal after June 7.
How important do you feel this fight is?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: This fight is right up there with Paul Williams and Kelly Pavlik – a very important fight in my career.
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: This fight is bigger – bigger than the Chávez fight which was just as important as Williams and Pavlik – because of the timing of this fight because we are at a crucial point in our careers.
Do you feel you will fight the same style or will you change for Cotto?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: It is basically going to be the same Sergio Martínez you have always seen with a strong desire and the will to win. The only think that will be different will be the strategy I will use – I don’t always use the same strategy on different opponents. The only difference will be the strategy that I will use in this particular fight.
Can you give us some insight to your strategy?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: I can’t reveal my strategy yet because it is not completed. The plan is not totally devised…and I would prefer that my plan be a surprise to Miguel Cotto.
Who did the contractual demands come from?
LOU DiBELLA: Well, we sat in a room with Miguel Cotto so I think the majority of it did come from Miguel Cotto himself. It came directly from Miguel Cotto.
Which were the most annoying demands?
LOU DiBELLA: Calling the fight Cotto-Martínez instead of Martínez-Cotto and Miguel being on the left side of the poster instead of the right – I found that annoying. I am not a big fan of catch-weights – so I found that a bit annoying. But it doesn’t matter because in terms of making this fight, Sergio is really the boss. Sergio’s marching orders were do the best you can and make the best deal you can and make sure this fight happens. So I made sure this fight happens.
Does Sergio still let it get to him?
LOU DiBELLA: You were at the press conference and I think he made himself clear, but at this point, Sergio is a pro’s pro, a true professional. I don’t think he’s focused on anything at this point but beating up Miguel Cotto.
I understand from your training you plan to pick up the pace throughout the fight and use your speed at the end.
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: I am training and preparing for a hard fight and I will adjust as I go along.
Why did you begin sparring so late into training camp?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: It’s the way I have always done it. I have three sparring sessions this week, three sparring sessions next week, and then the following week is the week of the fight. It’s nothing new – it’s the way it’s always been throughout my career.
Why do you think guys like you and Bernard Hopkins and Juan Manuel Márquez are still able to compete at a very high level at their age?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: Basically, many more boxers would be able to do it if they took care of themselves by living the way you are supposed to live – eating healthy for example – if many did many would continue to box at an older age.
SAMPSON LEWKOWICZ: This fight will be the biggest pay-per-view of the year and it will be the best quality fight. It will be an historic day for boxing. Without a doubt, Cotto-Martínez will be a great pay-per-view event..
A million buys, or more?
SAMSPSON LEWKOWICZ: I don’t know if it will reach one million but it will be bigger than any that have happened so far this year.
LOU DiBELLA: I’m not going to make a prediction on the buys, but I know it will do a lot of business and it will be a great fight. You know Sergio and Miguel Cotto and their styles – this fight is going to be a brawl and the fans are really going to enjoy it. The only think I would worry about is seeing a great fight in the ring, which I know will happen. I know Sergio is prepared. I am not going to sit here and make a prediction on pay-per-view – I don’t think the fans care about that – I hope the fans care about the fight and they are watching.
What makes you so sure, that you will go on record that the fight will end early?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: By January I have been training for this fight and my body has responded perfectly. The way training camp has been going, and the way I feel physically, it is going to be an early stoppage.
Cotto is saying he is going to work on a body attack. What is your take on that?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: That is of no concern to me. The only thing that is going to matter in this fight is going to be what Sergio Martínez does in this fight.
Do you feel that since you are a bigger man and stronger man in the ring, it will be to your advantage?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: That’s not the case. The real difference is going to be my intelligence and my ring generalship in this fight.
Do you feel the year lay-off will affect you?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: When someone has been in boxing for twenty years and taken a year off, it’s not a problem because you have twenty years of experience, so that year lay-off is not going to affect me in the least.
When was the last time you felt this confident you were going to knock out your opponent?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: I am always 100% confident by of winning by knockout in every fight but I haven’t felt like this since the Paul Williams rematch.
When you won against Chavez Jr you did not look impressive…
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: If winning 11½ rounds out of twelve is not impressive, I don’t know what I could do – what is being impressive?
If the fight went another couple of rounds – do you think you would have made it?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: If the fight would have lasted another two or three rounds, Chavez would have run out of gas and I would have stopped him.
Do you feel you have the power?
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ:I knocked out Dzinziruk and I showed power. I knocked out Paul Williams and I showed power.
LOU DiBELLA: To say that this guy doesn’t have power as a middleweight is sort of absurd considering he knocked out Dzinziruk and knocked him down five times and basically ended his career. He knocked out Paul Williams like a tree was falling. He knocked out Matthew Macklin and he knocked out Darren Barker and he literally beat Julio César Chávez Jr into a bloody pulp. I joked with him in Florida about it that he was trying to knock him out when he should have just taken the 12-0 shutout that resulted in him getting hit in the first place. To be honest, whoever asked those last questions seems to have an axe to grind. So be it but I just don’t think they are accurate.
LOU DIBELLA: I just want to remind everyone that there are still tickets available, but we do expect a sellout. Whatever you want to call it, Cotto-Martínez or Martínez-Cotto, it is going to be a great fight and that’s what it’s all about. I want to thank my partners at Top Rank, Miguel Cotto and his promotional company Miguel Cotto Promotions and we look forward to a great fight week and a great fight on June 7.
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ: I want to thank everybody for taking part in this and we’ll see everybody on June 7