By Matt Richardson
As the focus in the boxing world slowly shifts from the events that occurred last week in Nevada, promoter Lou DiBella continues to work in his New York office. DiBella is currently preparing for what is undoubtedly going to be one of the biggest nights of the year in the sport. On June 7, long-time DiBella fighter Sergio Martinez will put his middleweight crown on the line against Miguel Cotto in a highly anticipated fight at Madison Square Garden.
“I’m looking forward to it not only as Sergio’s promoter but I’m looking forward to it as a fan,” DiBella told BoxingScene in a wide-ranging interview on Sunday. “It’s the first fight in a while where Sergio has been in with a great fighter, or any fighter for that matter, who’s not bigger than he is. I don’t think Cotto is bigger than him. Assuming that Sergio’s health is OK, assuming that his leg holds, which I’m hoping and confident it will, I think it’s going to be a big night for Sergio.”
“Its Puerto Rican day parade weekend,” he continued. “It’s the weekend that obviously has been Cotto’s time. I think that this is a great matchup of styles. I think it can’t be a bad fight.”
Both fighters are at similar, later stages of their careers. Despite Martinez not fighting in more than a year, however, DiBella said he thinks the inactivity will help.
“I think the time off when you’re an older fighter is not necessarily a bad thing at all,” he said. “I’m not so worried about rust. I actually think the time off may serve him. It gave him a chance to rest his knee, to rehabilitate. I’m thinking the time off really is not going to be a detrimental thing for him at all.”
It was, at times, a tricky fight to make. That’s mainly due to Cotto’s demands, DiBella said. Factors ranging from the order of the ring walks to the listing of the names on the fight posters have been changed to oblige Team Cotto. DiBella said it’s not something unusual for Martinez.
“It’s been frustrating Sergio’s whole career, to be honest with you,” he said. “We took the short end of the stick in the rematch with Paul Williams. This has been somewhat consistent in Sergio’s career. But you know what; it’s the fight that Sergio wanted. In order to make the fight happen we had to do what was necessary. Negotiations are based upon leverage. And the leverage here resided with Miguel Cotto and his team. They had the leverage. It’s Puerto Rican day parade weekend. Leverage is always the key factor in fights. They had the leverage and we basically had to do what was necessary if we wanted the fight and my fighter wanted the fight so I made the deal. ”
June 7 is a big night for the game but there’s always the new challenge around the corner. As such, if Martinez wins against Cotto, a potential fight against power-punching middleweight Gennady Golovkin becomes that much more of a reality. DiBella understands this but the economic reality is that a fighter pushing 40 in the most unforgivable sport is likely to look for the biggest money. That may wind up being Golovkin or it may not be.
“Sergio has never been afraid of anyone,” DiBella argued. “He’s never ducked anyone his whole career. Look at the list of guys he’s fought. Put it against the guys Golovkin has fought. Put it against the guys any of them has fought. There’s not a champion in boxing whose defenses reflect the top of the food chain the way Sergio’s has. Barker became a world champion, Macklin really beat Sturm, Paul Williams twice, he basically put Kelly Pavlik into retirement. Dzinziruk was considered a beast when he beat him. Martin Murray is absolutely one of the best middleweights in the world and a huge physical specimen as a middleweight. Now, he’s fighting Cotto. Look at the opposition. The idea that Sergio has ducked anyone is absurd. And if a Golovkin fight presents itself and economically it makes sense, Sergio has never discounted that as a possibility.”
Back in the office, DiBella is working on a cavalcade of items. Some of those are more prominent fights and fighters and others are not but there’s much going on.
“Look, I’m still heavily invested in ‘Broadway Boxing’ and continuing to keep boxing alive on a grassroots level in New York City,” DiBella said. “That’s been a big part of my company’s business for well over 10 years. I’m excited about the fact that I made a deal with the New York Golden Gloves and they’re being televised as part of Broadway Boxing. I love the New York Golden Gloves and I think they’re an important part of the history of boxing in the tri-state area. I’m talking to the Daily News Golden Gloves about doing a deal that goes into the future.”
“I have a bunch of exciting, young prospects,” DiBella said, “and I’m continuing to sign exciting, young prospects with an eye particularly to the divisions that I think are hotter like ’60, ’68 and ’75. I have a couple of ESPN dates coming. I think ESPN has done a great job with its programming, they’re doing Stiverne and Arreola, which is great but they’re also getting better fights on ESPN Friday Night Fights. I have Ivan Redkach and then Willie Nelson is going to fight a main event in August. And, I’m working hard. Working hard to try to continue to build the next Sergio; the next star. Find a guy that can carry the reins. I’m confident about the fight on June 7 but even with a victory I think Sergio probably has a couple more fights in him.”Tags: Sergio Martinez , Miguel Cotto , Lou DiBella , Cotto-Martinez , Cotto vs. Martinez