Lem Satterfield

Weigh-in result: Miguel Cotto, 155; Sergio Martinez, 158.8

Miguel Cotto looked fit and strong weighing-in at 155 pounds (just one pound over the junior middleweight limit) for his Saturday challenge to middleweight champ Sergio Martinez, who came in at 158.8 at Friday's weigh-in at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the site of their HBO Pay Per View headliner.

"I'm ready to work," said Cotto (38-4, 31 knockouts), who is looking to become the first Puerto Rican boxer to win major titles in four weight classes by upsetting Martinez. "I'm ready to make history tomorrow."

Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs), a 39-year-old southpaw from Argentina who has been sidelined with serious knee injuries over the past year, looked well-conditioned and very confident during the weigh-in.

"Argentina!" he yelled. "Tomorrow, we go straight to the victory!"

Martinez was undeterred by the booing partisan fans of Cotto. The veteran incited the crowd by waving them on throughout the event. Martinez still was on the scale when ring announcer Michael Buffer announced his numbers for their 159-pound catchweight bout. He then stared directly into the eyes of a nearby Freddie Roach, a six-time Trainer of The Year who is working Cotto's corner for the second consecutive fight.

During the intense post-weigh-in stare down, which lasted nearly a minute, Martinez not only maintained eye contact with Cotto, but he inched closer, tilting his head, in seeming anticipation.

Being that he is boxing's third most attractive pay-per-view star behind Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, Cotto demanded the catchweight, that he be introduced second and enter the ring second, and that the promotion be billed "Cotto-Martinez."

"Sergio is a tremendous athlete with amazing athletic ability. Speed, power, charisma, and he looks like a movie star…He's the reigning middleweight champion and he's a star in his own right," said Martinez's promoter, Lou DiBella.

"But, look, this is New York, and this is Puerto Rican Day parade weekend, and this is traditionally Miguel Cotto's time. So Miguel had leverage to make this fight, and we needed to do what we had to do to make this fight happen. Miguel has gotten a lot of advantages, but if he loses on Saturday night, then everything changes."

Since rising from a 12th-round knockdown to defeat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in September 2012, Martinez has required two surgeries to repair damage to his right knee.

After the Chavez fight, Martinez received eight stitches to sew up a cut over his left eye, two staples in his head and suffered from both a broken left hand and torn ligaments in his knee.

Martinez required a second surgery after having damaged the knee again, later determined to be a torn right meniscus, after rising from an eighth-round knockdown for a unanimous decision over Martin Murray in his last fight in April 2013.

DiBella said that Martinez will likely be wearing a protective covering on his knee into the fight as a precaution.

"Sergio's allowed to wear a knee sleeve with no hardware in it. It has to be soft," said DiBella. "He has not decided whether or not he will. We'll have to find that out tomorrow night."

Middleweights Andy Lee (32-2, 22 KOs) and John Jackson (18-1, 15 KOs) were 154, and, 152, respectively, junior middleweights Jorge Melendez (28-3, 26 KOs) and Javier Maciel (28-3, 20 KOs) came in at 153 and 154, and featherweight ex-beltholders Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (23-3-1, 19 KOs) and Marvin Sonsona (18-1-1, 15 KOs) each weighed 125.8.

The son of former two-division titleholder Julian Jackson, John Jackson is promoted by Sampson Lewkowicz, and was last in action for an eighth-round knockout of Jorge Daniel Miranda in December.

A southpaw, Lee will be after his fifth straight win, having last suffered defeat by seventh-round knockout to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in June 2012. Lee is coming off an eighth-round majority decision over Frank Horta in April.

The 25-year-old Melendez is after his third straight victory since losing a unanimous decision to Nick Brinson last June and is coming off a unanimous decision over Richard Gutierrez in March.

The 29-year-old Maciel was last in action for a unanimous decision over Cesar Adrian Sastre Silva in April that helped him to rebound from a split-decision to loss to Brian Rose in October. The loss to Rose ended a nine-fight winning streak that had included eight knockouts for Maciel, including four straight stoppage victories, since falling to then-WBC titleholder Dmitry Pirog by unanimous decision in March 2011.

Maciel's other loss was by fourth-round knockout to Matias Ezequiel Franco in May 2009 after having began his career at 11-0 with six knockouts.

Vazquez Jr. and Sonsona will fight in a rematch of Vazquez's fourth-round knockout victory from February 2010. A southpaw from General Santos City, Philippines, Sonsona has won four straight fights including three by knockout since falling to Vazquez , who is 5-3 with four stoppage wins since their last meeting.

Vazquez is coming off a unanimous decision over Guillermo Avila in September, and Sonsona, a third-round knockout of Akifumi Shimoda in February.

"We have a couple of fights on this card that I can't wait to see. The one with the Filipino, Sonsona, against Vazquez is going to be a classic. Andy Lee against Julian Jackson's son should be a terrific fight. Melendez and Maciel is another good fight," said Arum.

"I think that you're going to see a great, great night of boxing. Then, you have the main event, which is going to be one of the classics of our era…This is what boxing is all bout. It's a great fight between two great fighters in the greatest city in the world, which is New York City."

DiBella concurred.

"This is going to be the night before the Puerto Rican Day parade at the Mecca of boxing, and it's sold out. Bob has promoted a lot of sold out events at Madison Square Garden, but this is the first one that I've ever co-promoted," said DiBella.

"So to have a sold out Madison Square Garden and the middleweight championship of the world, it's going to be a great night in New York on June 7…It's going to be a great event. I know that Sergio's here to win, Miguel Cotto's here to win, but I think that the fans are going to be the big winners."

 

FELIX VERDEJO AND THE REST OF THE UNDERCARD

Also on the card, Puerto Rican lightweight prospect Felix Verdejo (12-0, 9 KOs) and rival Engelberto Valenzuela (8-1, 3 KOs) eached weighed 134.5 for their bout.

Below are the rest of the competitors on the nine-fight card.

Jantony Ortiz 113.5, Elio Ruiz 112.2

Willie Nelson 157, Darryl Cunningham 156.4

Jose Pedraza 132.4, Arturo Uruzquieta 131.6

Jose Lopez 121.2, Paul Hidalgo 122.2

Around the web