The chance to make boxing history was the main lure for Miguel Cotto in choosing to challenge Sergio Martinez for the WBC middleweight world title on June 7.
“It’s the main attraction for me, to have the chance to be the first Puerto Rican to be a champion in four weight divisions — that’s my motivation,” Cotto said on Friday at a press gathering at the MGM Grand.
Cotto, who owns a record of 39-4-1 with 31 knockouts, was flanked by trainer Freddie Roach, who has been preparing him for the Martinez bout at New York’s Madison Square Garden, as well as training Philippines star Manny Pacquiao for his welterweight world title rematch with American Timothy Bradley last night.
Cotto, 33, has held world titles at junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight.
While Argentina’s Martinez goes into the bout as the champion, it is Cotto who can expect the fervent support of the crowd on the weekend of New York’s annual Puerto Rican Day parade.
The 39-year-old Martinez (51-2-2, 28 knockouts), has attacked Cotto for negotiating to have top billing for the fight and a purse division in the Puerto Rican’s favor.
Perhaps the demand that rankles most was that Cotto be introduced last at Madison Square Garden — an honor that traditionally belongs to the champion.
Cotto is indeed a big draw at the fabled New York arena, where he first fought in 2005.
He is looking forward to returning, despite having dropped a 12-round unanimous decision to Austin Trout in his last Garden appearance, in December 2012.
“I know a lot of crazy Puerto Ricans are going to be there,” Cotto said.
Martinez, who has never lost a world title fight and will be defending the belt he first won in 2010, has accused Cotto of “disrespect.”
“In a way, he’s a very nasty person,” Martinez said last month.
Cotto said he believed Martinez’s comments might stem from insecurity.
“If Martinez doesn’t believe in himself, his skill, he picked the wrong fight,” Cotto said.
In fact, it was mainly Cotto who did the choosing, opting not to accept an offer to fight former WBC and WBA super welterweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
A showdown with Alvarez could still be in his future, Cotto said, but he prefers to postpone talk of that possibility until after taking care of business in June.