By Matt Richardson
Photos: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Even the most bias boxing fan would have to admit that their sport often doesn’t get it right. The list of offenses is long and range from bogus rankings to controversial decisions to pay-per-view fights that should have been viewed for free. If you’re a boxing fan you probably find yourself scratching your head in confusion or waving it side to side in anger on an almost daily basis. This is not an easy sport to be a fan of.
Then, there are times, when everything seemingly falls into place. The best fight the best in the most important and exciting fights in the biggest and most historic venues. Just hearing that two boxers have signed on the dotted line to face each other can make even the most jaded boxing fan ease up a little.
One of those latter instances took place in recent weeks and Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto were in New York City on Tuesday to make it official: Cotto, the rising former three-division champion will meet Martinez, the legitimate middleweight champ, in a middleweight title fight on June 7 in what is sure to be a sold-out Madison Square Garden.
Cotto (38-4, 31 KO’s) and Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KO’s) are on a multi-stop tour to promote the HBO PPV fight, day two of which was held at the fight venue following a presser Monday in Puerto Rico.
“It’s going to be a real exciting fight,” said Top Rank’s Todd DuBoef. “It’s going to be explosive. Both guys are icons of their countries and both are going to the Hall of Fame.” That sentiment was reiterated by DuBoef’s step-father, Bob Arum and by Martinez promoter Lou DiBella. All three men seemed legitimately excited for the fight. It also didn’t hurt that the press conference was open to the public, providing each fighter with a vocal contingent of support.
“I just look forward to starting my camp, to train as hard as I can each day,” said Cotto, who looked rejuvenated in his lone 2013 appearance. Cotto will be training for the fight for the second time with Freddie Roach, the same trainer who got the Puerto Rican in excellent shape for his dominant victory against Delvin Rodriguez last October. He’ll have to be equally as fit for his encounter against Martinez, which figures to be rough for as long as it lasts.
That hasn’t been lost on Cotto, who, as usual, didn’t say much besides that “at the end of the road, the winners are going to be the fans.”
Martinez, who hasn’t fought since narrowly defeating Martin Murray last April, repeated Cotto’s mantra.
“I will tell you all that we are going to have a great fight that day,” he said. Martinez, however, gave fans a brief view into the negotiations surrounding the fight, implying that Cotto was a bit picky before signing the deal. “I don’t really care because I’m the champion,” Martinez said about Cotto insisting on the fight being labeled “Cotto-Martinez” in lieu of the traditional label in which the champion’s name is listed first.
“I will also be introduced first because if it wasn’t that way Cotto wouldn’t take the fight,” Martinez continued. Martinez then joked that Cotto would need rose petals thrown his way the night of the fight or he wouldn’t let the bell ring.
While traditionalists may quarrel with Cotto’s pre-fight negotiations, it’s unlikely that they would care come fight night. This is an excellent fight on paper and the order of the ring walks or the fighter’s names on the promotional materials isn’t going to change that. In a sport that repeatedly can’t get it out of its own way, it’s refreshing to see everything come together.
“A great fight where the outcome is in doubt,” DiBella said. “This is what boxing is all about.”
HBO has committed to a series of pre-fight programming, including an edition of their popular “24/7″ series, “Faceoff” and more. Dates and times have not yet been announced.
Tickets, priced between $750 and $50, will start to be sold today and can be purchased at the MSG box office or via Ticketmaster. The bout will mark Cotto’s ninth appearance in the “Mecca” of boxing. The Garden states that in those nine combined performances the Puerto Rican has sold an astonishing 120,000 tickets. Knowing that, and the money that comes with it, it’s understandable why Martinez elected to let Cotto have some of those aforementioned formalities.
E-mail this author at boxingwriter@AOL.com or follow him on Twitter @MRichardson713