by David P. Greisman
For much of the “Face Off” segment between Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto that aired on HBO last week, the lineal middleweight champion questioned Cotto’s contractual demands — demands he accepted, including a catch weight of 159 pounds, Cotto’s name being listed first in the marketing of the fight, and Cotto walking to the ring and being introduced in the spot typically reserved for the champion.
That’s all in the past, Martinez said on a May 20 media conference call — though his promoter, Lou DiBella, also says that these contractual demands are giving Martinez even more motivation to give Cotto a beating on the June 7 pay-per-view airing live from Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“There is no hatred,” Martinez said on the call, according to a translator. “I’m a professional. There is not hatred at all. Everything that I feel is off to the side. I’m totally focused on the fight. …. The words are over, and it’s almost time for the fight. Words don’t mean anything anymore. Now it’s just wait for the fight, wait for the bell to ring, and it’s on.”
As another reporter noted on the call, Martinez typically doesn’t have much of the proverbial chip on his shoulder regarding his opponents. DiBella did recall that Martinez was quite upset prior to his September 2012 bout with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., as Chavez had a world title belt that had been taken away from Martinez by the sanctioning body.
“When you get closer to the fight, his focus is only on the fight,” DiBella said. “I think this was not an easy negotiation. We kept having to call Sergio with more and more concessions that a champion generally does not have to make. And at the time, he was not pleased. I think that came out at some of the press conferences very clearly and in some of the interviews. And if you watched the ‘Face Off’ with Max Kellerman, you could detect that he was upset about certain things.
“But I think he’s channeled that to his benefit,” DiBella said. “I think that now he’s just singularly fixated on giving Cotto a beating and walking out of Madison Square Garden the middleweight champion. There were a lot of concessions that were made to Cotto’s perception of his star value, and Cotto wanting concessions that a champion doesn’t normally give, even to a more popular fighter. But Sergio’s attitude was he wanted Miguel Cotto, he wanted this fight badly, he believed that it was a great opportunity for him. He always wanted to fight in the big room at Madison Square Garden before he retired and to prove himself in that Mecca. And in order to get the fight, we had to swallow some stuff we didn’t want to swallow.”
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]