RING and WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez has called Miguel Cotto "a diva," claiming that he will not only beat the three-division titlewinner into retirement, but that he will knock the Puerto Rican out in the ninth round of their June 7 pay-per-view clash at New York's Madison Square Garden.
But during a Wednesday workout for Cotto (38-4, 31 knockouts) before media members at his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., trainer Freddie Roach said that it will be the Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs) who would not hear the bell ending the 12th round.
"They say the fight goes nine rounds," said Roach, who will be working Cotto's corner for the second consecutive fight. "I think we win in four rounds."
Cotto, 33, 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 is moving up to a catchweight of 159 pounds 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, having fought at junior middleweight since 2010.
Cotto is rising to the challenge at a time when the island nation currently has no reigning beltholders who were born there, and doing so at The Garden the night before the Puerto Rican Day parade.
Cotto is 7-1 with four knockouts at The Garden, where he 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.
"I understand why Freddie is so confident and is saying the things he is saying today. He believes in me," said Cotto, whose triumph over Margarito avenged the first loss of Cotto’s career, which was an 11th-round knockout in July 2008. "We have worked hard in the gym. The work is almost done. Martinez is a world champion. I am prepared to fight, and I want promise to my fans I will do my best to win the world championship."
A southpaw from Argentina now living in Spain, Martinez turned 39 in February, 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.
But Roach said Martinez's victory run will end on June 7 at The Garden, where Cotto's winning streak and tradition will continue.
"Miguel's ring generalship alone will win this fight," said Roach. "We have two more days of sparring, then four rounds of work and that's it. We are ready to fight."
Note: Quotes provided by Lee Samuels of Top Rank
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