Sergio Martinez is the World Boxing Council middleweight champion, and with the exception of some sanctioning-body shenanigans, has owned the belt since 2010.
The 39-year-old Argentinian is 51-2-2 and has beaten the likes of Kelly Pavlik at his peak, Paul Williams when he was called boxing’s most feared fighter and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
He deserves respect.
But that’s not what Miguel Cotto is giving him in anticipation of their June 7 HBO pay-per-view fight at Madison Square Garden.
Former three-division world champion Cotto (38-4, 31 knockouts) has negotiated to have his name listed first in the fight promotion, insisted on a favorable purse split and would like to be introduced last at MSG — typically an honor belonging to the champion. That point is under negotiation.
“I not only have dislike for him ... ,” Martinez said in Spanish through a translator. “Because of the disrespect I have received from him in all of the negotiations, I will beat the [heck] out of him, and before the ninth round, I will knock him out.”
This is not Martinez’s style. The anti-bullying, anti-domestic violence advocate is typically far more gentlemanly, but as he prepared for his third stop on a three-city press tour Wednesday at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, he said Cotto’s nastiness needs to be exposed.
“From monetary to personal, him calling me the “B” side when I’m the deserved champion, this is not right,” Martinez said. “In a way, he’s a very nasty person.”
Cotto is popular at MSG, selling more tickets to the famed arena than anyone since 2000. He debuted there in 2005. And he has been viewed sympathetically — rightfully — as the unjust victim to Antonio Margarito’s possible loaded hand wraps in his first loss, in 2008.
To Martinez, he’s a villain.
“It’s like Chavez in Venezuela, [Fidel] Castro or [Vladimir] Putin, there are people who like him and many others who dislike him,” Martinez said. “I think the majority of people for this fight will like Martinez and dislike Cotto. … The way he treats people, the press … I love to help people.”
Martinez’s anger heightened after Cotto made a comment that Martinez better not blame his ailing right knee after he loses.
Martinez said Wednesday he’s had three operations on the knee after injuring it in training in 2005. He said it’s only bothered him once in a fight, when he was knocked down in the 12th round of his September 2012, unanimous-decision victory over Chavez.
“The knee is almost 100%, and with some more treatment, it will be by next month,” said Martinez, who will begin his training in Spain, arriving in Miami to resume it in late April after previously training in Oxnard.
Martinez has been knocked down in each of his past three fights. He declined to answer how much longer he plans to fight after June 7.
He said he expects to outclass Cotto, who responded from a one-sided loss by decision to Austin Trout in December 2012, by leaving the ring without any comments to reporters, then hired Freddie Roach as his trainer.
In October, Cotto looked like his old tough, active self in beating Delvin Rodriguez by third-round technical knockout in Orlando.
“Freddie Roach is a great trainer, and he has improved Cotto, but Delvin Rodriguez can’t be compared to Sergio Martinez,” Martinez said. “I really want to knock him out, take him all the way out of boxing and make him retire first — before me.”