RING middleweight champion Sergio Martinez was fighting mad on Friday, his 39th birthday, vowing to severely punish Miguel Cotto, whom he says "won't see the ninth round" when they meet on June 7 at Madison Square Garden.
A southpaw from Argentina now living in Spain, Martinez told RingTV.com that he is miffed about the negotiations for the bout, which resulted in the fight being billed "Cotto-Martinez," along with a contracted catchweight of 159 pounds.
"I feel great. I honestly do not feel like I'm 39 as I am still light on my feet. Age is just a number," said Martinez through translator/advisor Nathan Lewkowicz.
"I just want to get into the ring with Cotto so I can give him a beating," Martinez added. "All of the demands and hoops that they made my team go through to make this fight happen have shown me how he is arrogant and doesn't respect me and my accomplishments."
Martinez (51-2-2, 28 knockouts), who last fought in April 2013 when he defeated Martin Murray, has vowed to slice up Cotto, who is prone to cuts. Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams, Matthew Macklin, and Julio Cesar Chavez were all left with badly bleeding faces after losses to Martinez.
In additon, Darren Barker suffered a perforated eardrum during an 11th-round stoppage loss to Martinez, and Sergei Dzinziruk was dropped five times during an eighth-round knockout loss.
"I can't see this fight playing out any other way. I know that Cotto won't see the ninth round," said Martinez, who is advised by Sampson Lewkowicz as well as his son, Nathan Lewkowicz, and promoted by Lou DiBella.
"When Sampson and Nathan would call Miguel De Pablos, my business manager, who was with me in Spain and explain the demands and what they were, I thought they were completely absurd. "
Having fought at junior middleweight since 2010, Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs) will move up to middleweight for the first time in an attempt to become the first Puerto Rican fighter to win a fourth title in as many different weight classes against Martinez in an HBO Pay Per View event.
Cotto, 33, is rising to the challenge at a time when the island nation currently has no reigning beltholders who were born there, and doing so the night before the Puerto Rican Day parade. Cotto is 9-1 with five knockouts in New York, and 7-1 with four stoppage at The Garden.
Martinez, meanwhile, has risen from the canvas during each of his past three fights comprised of an 11th-round stoppage of Macklin and unanimous decision victories over Murray and Chavez.
Martinez is 7-0, with four knockouts since falling by majority decision to 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 Pavlik in April 2010. Martinez has also knocked out former titleholders Dzinziruk and 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.
"I have a warrior's heart, and never give up when I am put in difficult situations. I fight hard for my fans," said Martinez. "Even though I had an injury before my fight in Argentina with Murray, I would not let the organizers postpone the fight, because I didn't want to let down my fans."
Does Cotto believe Martinez to be vulnerable?
"I do believe that Cotto thinks that, as does his team," said Martinez. "Or else why would they take the fight now, and not three years ago, when I was asking for it. I do believe that Cotto will retire after I beat him."