Photo credit : Chris Farina - Top Rank
The time for talk is very nearly over and quite frankly, the pre fight gabbing has not been a potent selling point for the Saturday clash between 39 year old Sergio Martinez, the WBC middleweight champ, and 33 year old Miguel Cotto, seeking to win a crown in his fourth weight class, the first Puerto Rican boxer to do so.
The bout and card, promoted by Top Rank and Lou DiBella, Sergio' s guy, does not need ancillary points of attraction because it has such merit on surface: two warriors, a bit past their prime, ok, but ever so ready and willing to walk on hot coals to get the W.
The event will run on pay per view, produced by Team HBO.
The principals gathered at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, where on Saturday night, eardrums will be ringing when 17,000 Cotto rooters and 5,000 Martinez fans will try to bolster their mans' chances to get the nod. The affair was respectful, with any folks desiring bombast getting their fill from Arum, the 80 something impresario never shy with an opinion, especially if it is a scathing one aimed at Richard Schaefer, the former Golden Boy day to day boss.
A boatload of supposed experts are saying that Martinez could have a cakewalk night, that his power edge, his familiarity with that weight class, will prove to be too much for Cotto. Miguel's power won't be enough to dent let alone crack Sergio, and the Argentine will have Cotto's face looking like it did when he met another crafty lefty, Austin Trout, in late 2012, they say.
But some smarties are also pointing out that Martinez' limbs have been failing him the last couple years and that his chin gets checked these days more often than it used to. If Cotto and trainer Freddie Roach are truly as simpatico as they say, and Freddie can get Miguel to command the ring, get the angles that benefit him, and Martinez' mobility has been compromised by leg injuries, then the Puerto Rican could collect that crown he seeks.
Martinez was asked about the excess of queries about his age and injuries. He said that is indicative of a lack of inventiveness on the part of the press, and he has a point. He said his knees are feeling great and that he will wear sleeves on them only because his doctor advised him to do so, for a bit of extra support. The hitter said that he thinks Team Cotto ratted him out to the commission and that Cotto will pay for that.
DiBella said he is a bit irked his guy had to do extra MRIs to prove he is healthy, but commended the NYSAC for promptly handling BraceGate.
Sergio does note that Cotto has taken heavy fire in recent fights, but expects the best of Cotto. His own chin is solid, he said, and noted that even Hall of Famers get knocked down...but like the best, he always gets up. One very key statement he made which stood out for me--the hands are secondary to the feet, he stated. I do not think enough of us harp on how important it is for your feet to move you into a spot where your hands can succeed...
Trainer Roach spoke, and said that his guy will want to control the ring 90 percent of the time and if he can, he will win. He said Sergio can be prone to wrecklessness and wants his guy to stay off the ropes and out of corners. Dedham Freddie admitted Team Cotto did alert NYSAC about the sleeve/brace issue...and I get the drift that they think that Sergio's mobility could indeed be compromised.
Roach also said that his kid, who he said is the most focused of any boxer he has worked with, is the better boxer, even if Sergio is a better athlete. "The fight against Chavez Junior was Sergio's ' last hurrah," said Roach. The wear and tear has gotten to Sergio, he believes; after all, Chavez trained only five days for him, and knocked him down, he pointed out.
Check back for much more material from the presser, including great stuff from Roach on Manny Pacquiao, and Arum on what is maybe next for Manny.