By Keith Idec
ATLANTIC CITY — Sergio Martinez has history with Antonio Margarito, but the undisputed middleweight champion would love to fight Miguel Cotto at 154 pounds.
Martinez and his representatives plan to pursue the winner of the Dec. 3 rematch between Cotto and Margarito, though Martinez isn’t convinced Cotto has any interest in fighting him.
“The last thing he said was about the money,” Martinez said after his 11th-round knockout of England’s Darren Barker at Boardwalk Hall. “That was the last excuse from Cotto. If the problem is the money I will fight and if [Cotto] wins, I will give my money to him, but I will pay all [of my] help. … No question. I will fight him, no problem. The problem is Cotto.”
The 36-year-old Martinez’s middleweight options seem limited to England’s Matthew Macklin (28-3, 19 KOs) and Ireland’s Andy Lee (27-1, 19 KOs). Russia’s Dmitry Pirog (19-0, 15 KOs) is a worthy adversary, but he doesn’t appear to be an opponent Martinez’s promoter, Lou DiBella, is considering for Martinez’s next fight.
Martinez would make more money to fight Puerto Rico’s Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs) or Mexico’s Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs, 1 NC) at 154 pounds, however, than he would for facing any of the aforementioned middleweights.
Margarito is the only boxer to decisively defeat Martinez since the former professional cyclist from Argentina turned pro in December 1997. “The Tijuana Tornado” beat Martinez by seventh-round TKO in a welterweight fight 11½ years ago in Las Vegas.
Martinez’s only other loss since then was a majority decision defeat to Paul Williams in their first fight, a December 2009 slugfest at Boardwalk Hall. Martinez avenged that debatable loss by knocking Williams unconscious in the second round of their rematch 10 months ago at Boardwalk Hall.
“If Margarito wins, let’s get in the ring,” Martinez said. “Everybody wants to see the rematch. I would do it in a heartbeat.”
DiBella doesn’t think Cotto or Margarito will be as quick to jump at the chance to face an athletic, awkward southpaw who has improved immensely in recent years.
“[Bob] Arum has already made it clear,” DiBella said, “that Cotto and Margarito, those guys aren’t fighting him.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.