BEVERLY HILLS, CA.—Judging by the slow steps and weariness in their voices the various promoters, minus Lou DiBella, seemed relieved it was the final stop of the long road trip that took them from Puerto Rico, to New York City, to Beverly Hills.
DiBella’s father is ill and needed to tend to his family.
It was the final stop for the traveling press tour to announce the middleweight championship fight between Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez and Miguel Cotto. Their showdown will take place on June 7 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. HBO pay-per-view will televise.
WBC middleweight champion “Maravilla” Martinez looked the freshest of them all and genuinely interested in the last stop of the press junket. Cotto sat with his trainer Freddie Roach at the historically swanky Beverly Hills Hotel, a mere 50 yards from the famous Polo Lounge where celebrities and agents meet.
It’s an intriguing fight between Martinez and Cotto. Though Martinez fights at the 160-pound weight division he really is a junior middleweight. The Argentine southpaw speedster was right at home in Beverly Hills. For more than five years he lived and trained in Oxnard or Ventura. Over that time he’s built many relationships and also accrued many fans.
“He has a lot of Mexican fans,” said Sampson Lewkowicz, who co-promotes Martinez.
Cotto will be training at the Wild Card Boxing gym once again with Roach. Though Manny Pacquiao has full rights to the wizard trainer at the moment, the baton will be handed to the Puerto Rican boxing icon. Roach and Cotto will pick up where they last left.
“Everything works out perfectly,” said Top Rank’s Bob Arum, who looked especially drained from the tour. “Plus, Cotto and Manny get along very well. They like each other.”
The last time Roach and Cotto hooked up, they assembled a perfect fight plan to destroy the tricky boxer Delvin Rodriguez. Now they’re teamed up again. It’s hard to bet against them. First you have one of the smartest analysts in Roach and second, one of the most intelligent boxers in Cotto. When you put them together it’s a near unbeatable team.
Martinez is no dunce in the boxing ring either. Over the years I’ve visited the very classy champion and I’m always amazed at his work rate while training. In my lifetime in boxing – that includes watching my father in the ring – I’ve seen thousands of boxers prepare over the years. Only three stick out in my mind when it comes to eye-popping workouts: the late Edwin Valero was one of them. He was a blur while training. Another was the younger Manny Pacquiao. Martinez is the third.
The very congenial Argentine stylist had a workout routine that was remarkable. It consisted of bike work, running, working on the bags, moving laterally from one side to the other and sparring. All of these routines have been done by many fighters, but not at the rate of speed that Martinez employs. It’s like watching a cartoon. Then he would go home to his condo near a channel and straddle a small boat on the water for a half hour to work on his balance.
When he was announced to the crowd and media he introduced a small boy and also talked about working on a campaign to stop bullying. Martinez is one of those guys who speaks from the heart. At times he may seem like he’s simply promoting but he truly believes in what he’s saying.
Martinez is emphatic that he will beat Cotto and it won’t be by decision. He implied that Cotto’s making him jump through hoops only boosted the will to knock out the Puerto Rican in front of his own fans.
“All of these sacrifices that I had to make to get this fight completed are not going to be forgotten,” said Martinez. “Cotto will pay for it in the end.”
Meanwhile, Cotto was as stoic as ever, but believes it should be a magical night in Madison Square Garden on June 7.
“It’s going to be the fight of the year,” Cotto said.
Coming from Cotto that’s quite a statement and should be taken seriously.
Arum Says Inglewood Forum Gets JMM vs. Alvarado.
The top guy from Top Rank said that Mexico’s boxing wizard Juan Manuel Marquez will fight Mike Alvarado on May 17 at the Inglewood Forum. The winner of the welterweight match up will face the winner of the fight between WBO champion Tim Bradley and Pacquiao.
Arum also said that Julio Cesar Chavez will return on July 12 to face either Gennady Golovkin or someone else if the WBA and IBO middleweight titleholder cannot return in time.
Madison Square Garden owns the rights to the Inglewood Forum and has extreme interest in staging fight cards in the venue that has a long history of great fights.
“A concert was planned on July 12, but they moved it to July 13 so that we can put Chavez on that date,” said Arum. “I like the Forum because the sight lines are so much better than at Staples.”