A sold-out crowd is expected at Madison Square Garden for the highly anticipated showdown between World middleweight king Sergio Martinez and former three-division champ Miguel Cotto.
Both fighters did their part to secure Saturday evening's headliner on HBO Pay-Per-View, easily coming within the contracted 159 lb. weight limit.
Cotto, who debuts at middleweight, came in at a lean 155 lb., to the delight of an enthusiastic crowd on hand at MSG's The Theatre for Friday's weigh-in. Martinez shrugged off the chorus of boos, confidently stepping to the scale as he weighed a fighting-ready 158.75 lb.
Saturday's bout marks the seventh time Martinez (51-2-2, 28KO) steps into the ring as middleweight king. The Argentine southpaw took more than a year off from the ring to repair and rehabilitate nagging knee and shoulder injuries.
His last performance reflected his increasingly hobbled state, climbing off the canvas and forced to rally late to edge out Martin Murray last April, in a bout that served as his first in his native Argentina in 11 years.
Cotto (38-4, 31KO) attempts to become the first fighter in the history of Puerto Rico to win titles in four weight classes. A former champ at 140, 147 and 154, the 33-year old is coming off of a 3rd round knockout of Delvin Rodriguez last October.
The middleweight title challenge marks Cotto's 9th headlining appearance at Madison Square Garden. The Puerto Rican superstar has sold more tickets at the venue than any other fighter in the 21st century.
In the chief support, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. and Marvin Sonsona collide in a rematch to their super bantamweight title fight four years ago.
Both fighters weighed in at 125.8 lb.
Vazquez Jr. (23-3-1, 19KO) knocked out Sonsona in the 4th round of their Feb. '10 bout to win the 122 lb. title, but has since fallen far from grace. The second-generation former champ managed two successful title defenses before suffering an upset 12th round stoppage loss to Jorge Arce in May '11, beginning a stretch of win-one, lose-one, as Vazquez Jr. is just 3-3 in his past six contests.
Like any other fighter to have come out of the Philippines in the past decade, Sonsona (18-1-1, 15KO) was once hailed as the next Manny Pacquiao. That dream crashed and burned after running into Vazquez. He has since won four straight, including an emphatic 3rd round knockout of former 122 lb. titlist Akifumi Shimoda this past February in an early candidate for 2014 Knockout of the Year.
Opening the telecast, Andy Lee gives the super welterweight division a try after coming up short as a middleweight contender. The former title challenger faces John Jackson - son of famed former middleweight champ and legendary knockout artist Julius Jackson - in a scheduled 10 round bout.
Lee checked in at 154 lb., while Jackson tipped the scales at 155.2 lb.
Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., 125.8 lb. vs. Marvin Sonsona, 125.8 lb. - 10 rounds, featherweight Jorge Melendez, 153 lb. vs. Javier Maciel, 154 lb. - 10 rounds, super welterweight Andy Lee, 154 lb. vs. John Jackson, 155.2 lb. - 10 rounds, super welterweight
WAPA-TV Card (Also streamed live on TopRank.tv) Felix Verdejo, 134.5 lb. vs. Engelberto Valenzuela, 134.5 lb. - 6 rounds, lightweight
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox