Sergio Martinez Meets the Press

By Robert Ecksel on May 21, 2014
Sergio Martinez Meets the Press
Maravilla, with his promoter Lou DiBella, met with the press yesterday via conference call.

“The people that know give him the respect that he deserves and before he’s done that respect will be universal…”

In anticipation of Sergio Martinez’s defense of the WBC middleweight title against Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden on June 7, Sergio Martinez, along with his promoter Lou DiBella, met with the press yesterday via teleconference call. 

Martinez is one of boxing’s class acts. He’s not an untouchable superstar. He’s not invulnerable to getting nailed. But he conducts himself with dignity and grace, in and out of the ring, an ambassador for a sport constantly at war with itself.

Born in Argentina and having fought mostly in Spain, Maravilla comes somewhat late to the English language. That’s of no concern to those who speak Spanish. But those who only speak English can be grateful that Martinez’s promoter has ended his vow of silence.

“Cotto-Martinez, or Martinez-Cotto as we like to call it, for the Middleweight Championship of the World,” said DiBella, “Sergio Martinez 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.”

Since DiBella forgot to thank those on the call, a mere formality followed by a mere oversight, Sergio did it for him.

“I would like to thank everyone that is present for their interest in the fight,” he said through a translator, “and for taking [part] in this media conference.”

It’s not news that the champion’s body is falling apart. Boxing will do that to a man. Every fight he has is followed by surgery, whether it’s his knees, his elbow, his hands, or parts undisclosed. When asked about his knees Martinez said, “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. My knees are feeling great. I have been running in the mornings on the treadmill. Right now I am just the same as when there were no knee problems. I have overcome all obstacles. I haven’t felt this good in a long time. Everything is going to be fine come fight time.”

“I believe that his knee is as good as it was before the Chavez fight,” DiBella added, “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. He could move in all directions without any kind of severe pain. I would like to be in my early 30s than my early 50s and I’m sure that Sergio would rather be in his early 20s than his late 30s, 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 Martinez—for his knee, for his hand, for his elbow, for everything that ached him.”

There are a few knocks on this fight going in. There’s a middleweight champion named Gennady Golovkin who it appears is being avoided. And Miguel Cotto, however great a fighter he has been, is, like Martinez, on the downside of his career. He has also never fought at middleweight.

Sergio isn’t given to trash talk, but he’s been somewhat critical of Cotto. Attempting to make a mountain out of a molehill, a reporter tried, unsuccessfully, to bait the champ.

“There is no hatred,” Sergio said. “I am a professional. Any hatred whatsoever is left behind. 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.”

DiBella was asked about the contretemps between Martinez and Cotto.

“There was a bit of a chip on his shoulder with Chavez 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, [but] like he said, his focus is now on the fight.  This was not an easy negotiation. 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. 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.”

Among the concessions Martinez made was agreeing to fight at 159 lbs. instead of 160. That doesn’t seem earth shattering, but there is more.

“Calling the fight Cotto-Martinez instead of Martinez-Cotto,” repeated DiBella, “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.”

Martinez has said it before and he said it again, that he expects to KO Cotto.

“This fight is definitely not going the distance. 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 every day I’m hitting harder, throwing more punches. Whatever Cotto will do in the ring doesn’t matter to me. What is important is for me to be the day of the fight in the same state that I’m working right now.”

The issue of Martinez not getting the respect he deserves kept coming up. I don’t know who’s disrespecting Sergio, but they had plenty of advocates on the conference call.

“I think ultimately he will get the credit he deserves,” said DiBella, giving more credence to the line of questioning than it deserves. “I think he will get respect and I think he should also get respect for the obstacles he has overcome. He 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.
“The people that know give him the respect that he deserves and before he’s done that respect will be universal.”

DiBella was spot on when he spoke about the “people who know.” But then Sergio picked up the lack of respect theme and ran with it.

“When I win I will get the universal respect,” he said. “This is a very, very important fight—one of the biggest of my career. This fight is right up there with Paul Williams and Kelly Pavlik. This fight is bigger than the Chavez 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.”

This is a pick ‘em fight at this time, but all eyes are on Martinez, even though he’s on the right side of the poster.

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HBO Face Off - Miguel Cotto vs Sergio Martinez with Max Kellerman



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