In case you haven’t been able to tell, Sergio Martinez flat-out does not like Miguel Cotto.
Martinez, the lineal middleweight champion of the world, told Bleacher Report he wasn't just planning to win the fight against Cotto this Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Nope. A mere win wouldn't be good enough.
"Cotto isn't going to make it to the ninth round," said Martinez. "I’m certain by the ninth round Miguel Cotto will be a broken person."
Martinez is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Where some fighters only smile and take pictures when the cameras are rolling, Martinez obliges almost everyone he meets with a smile or a handshake. He looks you in the eye whether you’re a banker or a bellman, and he seems to genuinely appreciate the fact that people are so very interested in his life.
But something about Cotto just rubs Martinez the wrong way. At least some of the contempt stems from terms agreed to at the negotiating table, which included Cotto being listed first for the fight’s promotional billing as well as the fight’s 159-pound contract weight.
"As far as Cotto’s demands go, it just shows what type of person he is and how ridiculous he was negotiating. That will have nothing to do with what happens in the fight."
Martinez said he was surprised Cotto would come all the way up to 159 to take him on. While Cotto is an accomplished and popular champion, he’s never ventured further up the scale than 154 pounds, and now he’ll be facing the best middleweight in the world just one pound south of his normal fighting weight.
"It’s not surprising that Cotto wants to go up to fight me, but what’s surprising is that he agreed to the contract weight of 159 pounds, because I am very comfortable at that weight."
Martinez is smallish by middleweight standards. In fact, he fought much of his career between 147 and 154 pounds before moving up to middleweight.
It would stand to reason, then, that Cotto believes age and injury have finally caught up to the 39-year-old Martinez. Right?
"I do think Cotto is thinking that," Martinez said. "I think that he thinks I won’t be able to move as well as I used to. But the thing is, against him, I’m not going to have to move as much, such as when I fought someone like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., because of Cotto’s style."
To add to Martinez’s point, Chavez is practically Godzilla compared to the diminutive Cotto. In fact, Martinez has been fighting guys physically larger than him for just about all of his five-year reign as middleweight king.
That won’t be the case against Cotto. Martinez will have the size, weight and speed advantage on fight night, something quite rare for him in recent history.
"The only way I can see Cotto being successful in the fight is if he cuts off the ring and closes the distance to try and exchange blows. He’ll have to dig to the body, but I’m not going to let him do any of that."
Martinez said fighting someone like Cotto, someone he passionately dislikes, brings out the best in him. He said the same was true against Chavez Jr. in 2012, a fight he won going away on the scorecards despite suffering a Round 12 knockdown.
"I’m definitely competitive. When my emotions take over like this, it makes me want to train harder and be more prepared because I’m more inspired to give Cotto a beating. It was the same with Chavez. It was the same type of situation. I’m much more motivated for this type of fight."
One of the things a professional boxer does in a fight, that a normal bloke on the street doesn't, is control his emotions. When fists start to fly and flesh starts to hurt, it’s natural for emotions to run high. A good fighter, though, is able to manage all of it as if he were outside of himself.
But even the professionals can let their emotions get the best of them. Martinez isn't worried about that, though. He said he’ll be able to keep his emotions in check, even against someone like Cotto.
"It definitely helps because I am able to control those emotions. It’s only a positive thing."
Martinez tried to play nice a bit. He offered some sort of olive branch by way of saying he respects Cotto as a fighter.
"On a professional level, I respect him. I respect him and believe I’ll have a very good fight with him."
But at the same time, Martinez said he wasn't going to think about anything on fight night other than putting Cotto down on the canvas.
With one last bit of disdain, Martinez said he knows Cotto is banking on him not being his best come fight night. He said while Cotto is thinking about Martinez’s past injuries or advanced age, he’ll be focused on the whole reason he took the fight against Cotto in the first place.
"All I’m thinking about is beating Cotto by knockout."
Kelsey McCarson writes about boxing and stuff. Follow him @KelseyMcCarson. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand. Cotto vs. Martinez will take place Saturday, June 7 live on HBO pay-per-view beginning at 9 p.m. ET.