RING middleweight champion Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto have agreed in principle to a June 7 fight on HBO Pay Per View at New York's Madison Square Garden, Top Rank President Todd duBoef confirmed to RingTV.com on Thursday.
The news was first reported by Yahoo!Sports, and later announced on the Twitter accounts by the fighters and their respective companies.
"We Tweeted it out 10 minutes ago. Everybody did — Cotto, Martinez, and ourselves. I'm excited. We're all excited," said duBoef, in an interview with RingTV.com.
"We're dealing with two, future hall of famers who have electrified the world of sports throughout their careers. Now, they'll be getting it on on June 7 in the same ring. They've both got an incredible fan base and an incredible following, and I think that it will be an electric night."
Martinez (51-2-2, 28 knockouts), a veteran southpaw who turns 39 on Friday, has risen from the canvas during each of his past three fights comprised of an 11th-round stoppage of Matthew Macklin and unanimous decision victories over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Martin Murray.
Martinez will have been out of the ring since April of last year, when he fought Murray in Buenos Aires.
"Sergio Martinez is the middleweight champion of the world defending his title, and this presents the opportunity to realize a life-long dream, and that is to fight in the big room at Madison Square Garden. This is a huge fight. I think that Cotto is a Hall of Famer, and I think that Sergio is a future Hall of Famer, and this is going to happen in the greatest arena in the world," said promoter Lou DiBella of Martinez, who has fought once at the Theatre inside The Garden.
"That's why Sergio made so many concessions to make this fight happen. Sergio had to swallow a lot of pride to make this happen, but on the other hand, this gives him a very good opportunity for a 39-year-old fighter to fight in the big room at The Garden. I think that it's a great fight for the fans, stylistically, between two, explosive fighters who are going to go out and try to hurt each other."
Martinez's advisor, Sampson Lewkowicz, was somewhat perturbed by the path of the negotiations, which included the fight being billed "Cotto-Martinez," and the contracted notion of catchweight of 159 pounds.
"Sergio always makes 159 pounds, easily. So when we saw that they wanted to negotiate 159 pounds as a 'catchweight,' then I can call that 'stupidity,' because Sergio is always at 159 when he's in shape. I don't know what their agenda is to call it a catchweight," said Lewkowicz.
"Because Sergio is always at 159 or under. How many times has Sergio even weighed in at 160? So it's not really a catchweight to me. What's the difference? If you want to call that a win for the Cotto side, then that's the only thing that he's going to win in relation to this fight. I predict a great fight, and the biggest pay per view fight of the year, by far."
Martinez is 7-0, with four knockouts since falling by majority decision to Paul Williams in December 2009, having avenged that loss by stopping Williams in the second round in November 2010.
The win over Williams was in defense of the WBC belt Martinez won by unanimous decision from Kelly Pavlik in April 2010. Martinez has also knocked out former titleholders Sergei Dzinziruk and Darren Barker in the eighth- and 11th-rounds.
After the Chavez fight, Martinez received eight stitches to repair a cut over his left eye, two staples in his head, and suffered from both a broken left hand and torn ligaments in his right knee, the latter of which required surgery to repaair.
Martinez required a second surgery after having damaged the knee injury, later determined to be a torn right meniscus, after his triumph over Murray.
"This is another dream that I'm so pleased to be a part of that this has come true for me. This is a dream for the fans that this is happen. The fans are going to see a great fight," Martinez said in a statement to RingTV.com.
"After all of the negotiations, and the back and forth, and the fact that they tried to insult me with Cotto's name being first, Cotto will pay dearly in the ring. I want to get my personal satisfaction, and to perform to the satisfaction of the fans, and will do that on June 7."
A 33-year-old three-division titlewinner, Cotto (38-4, 31 knockouts) is coming off a third-round knockout of Delvin Rodriguez in October that helped him to bounce back from consecutive unanimous-decision losses to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Austin Trout in May and December 2012, respectively.
Cotto's loss to Trout represented his eighth appearance at The Garden, and his 10th in New York.
"We're all excited, naturally, and everything has been agreed to in principle, even though the contracts are not signed, everything is agreed to in principle," said Cotto's advisor, Gaby Penagaricano.
"So we're working on that right now, but Miguel is thrilled and happy. We all are. It's probably the most highly-anticipated fight for the first half of the year. It's going to be a great night for Puerto Rico, the day before the parade, and it's going to be big."
Having fought at junior middleweight since 2010, Cotto will be moving up to the 160-pound division for the first time against Martinez in an attempt to become the first Puerto Rican fighter to win a fourth title in as many different weight classes.
"Happy to announce that I will be back in the ring on June 7 in my home @TheGarden on @HBO PPV," wrote Cotto, on his Twitter account, which also indicated that he is "ready to make history."
Cotto is rising to the challenge at a time when the island nation currently has no reigning beltholders who were born there.
On March 15, RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia will face Mauricio Herrera in Puerto Rico, where Garcia's parents were born. But Garcia is a resident of Philadelphia, the city of his birth.
"No question that what has always been attractive to him, the fact that he will become the first Puerto Rican ever to win four titles in four different divisions," said Penagaricano, who downplayed the notion that Puerto Rico has no current titleholders.
"The fact that there aren't any Puerto Rican-born champions, I'm not sure that factors into the equation. You know how it is, in boxing, sometimes there are champions from certain places, and sometimes, there aren't. So I know that is attractive to him, and that he will be ready."
At The Garden, Cotto has decisioned former world titleholders Shane Mosley, Joshua Clottey and Paulie Malignaggi, knocked out Zab Judah and Antonio Margarito, and lost to Trout, the latter in his last appearance in there.
"What do I think that fan attendance is going to be? I think that you're going to be lucky to have a seat," said duBoef. "People say that Cotto-Margarito II was one of the most memorable nights at Madison Sqaure Garden, but I promise you that this will be the most memorable night in that Garden."
Cotto is 9-1 with five stoppage wins in New York overall, including 7-1 with four knockouts at The Garden.
"New York is a special place for him, with the connection that he has with the people and The Garden, it has been unparalleled," said Penagaricano. "I don't think that there is any other example of that in boxing. This will be his 11th time in New York, so he's very much looking forward to it."
The loss to Mayweather ended a three-fight knockout and winning streak by Cotto, whose previous setback had come via 12th-round stoppage opposite Manny Pacquiao in November of 2009. The triumph over Margarito had avenged the first loss of Cotto’s career, which was an 11th-round knockout in July of 2008.
Cotto's fight with Rodriguez was his first under trainer Freddie Roach, who was in the opposite corner when Cotto fought Pacquiao. Roach replaced Pedro Diaz, Cotto's trainer for three bouts.
"I think that at this point at his career, Miguel is a rejuvenated and inpired fighter. That's largely because of the progress that Freddie Roach was able to achieve in his fight with Delvin Rodriguez," said duBoef.
"In terms of his training preparation for Rodriguez, that's something that had been lacking for some time. I think that the improvement in training resulted in what we saw in his last fight, and I think that we're going to see that again on June 7."
MIGUEL COTTO’S FIGHTS IN NEW YORK:
Waklimi Young, UD 4, Hammerstein Ballroom, April 28, 2001
Muhammad Abdulaev, TKO 9, Madison Square Garden, June 11, 2005
Paulie Malignaggi, UD 12, Madison Square Garden, June 10, 2006
Zab Judah, TKO 11, Madison Square Garden, June 9, 2007
Shane Mosley, UD 12, Madison Square Garden, Nov. 10, 2007
Michael Jennings, TKO 5, Madison Square Garden, February 21, 2009
Joshua Clottey, SD 12, Madison Square Garden, June 13, 2009
Yuri Foreman, TKO 9, Yankee Stadium, June 5, 2010
Antonio Margarito, TKO 10, Madison Square Garden, Dec. 3, 2011
Austin Trout UD 12 Miguel Cotto, Madison Square Garden, Dec. 12, 2012