NEW YORK – The underlying theme of the anticipated Miguel Cotto-Sergio Martinez middleweight title bout has been the war of words between the main event fighters, however, both fighters decided to save their energy for the ring during the final press conference before Saturday’s event at Madison Square Garden.
“I hope you are not bored, there were too many words already,” said Martinez, who returns to the famous venue where he defended his middleweight belts against Matthew Macklin in 2012 at The Theater (he makes his first appearance at the main arena on Saturday). “I came prepared to fight, prepared to box, and ready for war. I am ready to give my very best. I worked as hard as usual to win. As usual. On Saturday, there will be no more words.”
Cotto, on the other hand, remained his usual, unfazed self after Martinez’s statement.
“It is good for us to hear Sergio is ready for war, because that’s what we’re going to see on Saturday,” said Miguel Cotto, the challenger in what will be his 10th appearance as a headliner in boxing’s most storied venue. “I am on the same page as Sergio: on Saturday there will be no more words.”
Luckily for the promotional aspect of the event, the rest of the participants in the press conference did not hesitate to put their feelings into words and produced some colorful exchanges.
“I will be short,” said Martinez’s long time advisor Sampson Lewkowicz in his turn at the podium (but as usual, he was anything but that, much to the pleasure of the media members in attendance).
“Miguel has been saying that Sergio has had problems with his health, and I hope that after the fight he can explain to everyone why he made that mistake (of thinking that way).
“And by the way, don’t say again ‘don’t cry for me, Argentina,’ because you lose every time you say that,” quipped Lewkowicz turning his attention to Bob Arum, co-promoter of the event, before taking aim at Cotto’s trainer, Freddie Roach.
“He’s one of the good ones, but every time he predicts something I feel I should put money on the other side. The excuses that he makes sound like a husband who was just caught cheating. Hopefully, he’ll make that mistake again. You will see the KO after the sixth round, and I don’t talk s__t like you say,” said the Uruguay-born promoter, before reminding Roach that he’d be eating his words again as he did after Martinez’s title defense against another one of Roach’s protégées, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Roach was not as talkative in his retaliation, but he was almost equally witty in his comeback to Lewkowicz, as well as brief.
“I wish you good luck, you’re going to need it. Sampson, I am glad you think I’m funny, I like your hairpiece,” said Roach to the increasingly balding Lewkowicz, who responded with a laugh, setting up one of the few eruptions of laughter during the presser.
Not to be undone, Martinez’s trainer Pablo Sarmiento had his own comments to expand on Lewkowicz’s turn at the podium.
“Sergio trained very hard and is very motivated after putting up with Cotto and his antics,” said Sarmiento, referring to Cotto’s requests of being introduced last and walking into the ring after Martinez, two privileges usually reserved for the champion, as well as occupying the top billing of the event, which in turn caused Martinez to label Cotto as a ‘diva.’
“But what Cotto doesn’t know is that regardless of whether he comes up first or second, or regardless of the corner he is in, he will have to face Sergio up there anyways. And I want to tell Freddie that facing him for a second time is great for me, but unfortunately, after (June 7) I’ll be 2-0 against you. Sorry about that.”
The historic character of the fight did not escape the analysis of promoters and fighters alike.
“It is very appropriate that the green belt has (a picture of) Carlos Monzon and Marvin Hagler on it, two guys that as a young child got me into boxing,” said promoter Lou DiBella, expanding on a mention by WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman announcing that the title belt itself will be bearing pictures of those two great champions in its decorative inserts.
“(They) are the symbols of the middleweight division of the modern era,” continued DiBella, noting that his co-promoter Bob Arum had promoted both fighters in their time while DiBella is fulfilling his dream of promoting a fight at this historic arena.