As Sergio Martinez gears up for his Saturday fight with Darren Barker, the middleweight world champion spoke to ESPN Deportes' Diego Morilla about that bout, plus a couple of opponents he feels are afraid of fighting him:
On Miguel Cotto:
"I hope Margarito wins, because I know he wouldn't have any problem fighting me, which is something Cotto won't do. Cotto doesn't want to face me. He will make excuses about the money, or about this or that day not being good for him, or about not liking the color of my socks -- anything -- I don't know. Lately he has been saying that the money is too short. I have to tell Cotto that if all he cares about is money, then I promise to hand over my purse to him if he wins, no problem. I can sign on that, anytime and anyplace."
Cotto (36-2, 29 KO) is a very small junior middleweight, while Martinez is the reigning middleweight world champion. While Martinez might be a bit small as a middleweight, he's a much bigger man than Cotto. And truthfully? Cotto's probably right about the money. Miguel wants serious bucks from here on out. He's getting a $5 million guarantee plus the lion's share of the PPV money for his December 3 fight with Antonio Margarito, with tickets moving easily at Madison Square Garden. Martinez, on the other hand, is headlining at Boardwalk Hall on Saturday and promoters have had to go really, really deep trying to get people in the building, including offering two free tickets with any $20 purchase of Everlast gear at Modell's in NYC. Martinez does not sell tickets. This is not disputable.
When Cotto was most recently asked about Martinez, it came as a response to Cotto asking reporters who else he could fight for $5 million. One suggested Sergio Martinez. Cotto scoffed at the idea that Martinez could guarantee him that sort of money. And frankly, he might be right. There might be enough network money in it, but maybe not.
Here's Sergio's take on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, the man who holds the bogus WBC middleweight belt that was stripped from Martinez for transparent reasons, and the man Martinez has been promised for a fight next year:
"Chavez isn't going to have the courage to fight me. He simply won't. Neither Chavez, nor his team, nor his entourage or his promoters, everyone around him who are protecting him -- they are not going to allow Chavez to face me. It's a subject that used to get all my attention, to be able to recover that belt, but that dream is fading right now."
Honestly, I'm glad to see Sergio wising up here. In earlier talk of a Martinez vs Chavez fight, Sergio sounded like he actually believed the WBC would order a fight between the two. No one else saw it that way, and I'm sure his promoter Lou DiBella has told him he shouldn't focus on it, because it's just not going to happen. Chavez isn't going to go anywhere near Martinez, who would thrash him. And outside of understanding that Martinez wants his belt back (fighters take the belts seriously, even if fans don't), I'm glad he's not going to concern himself too much with it. No one needs proof that Martinez is better than Chavez. Everyone is already quiet well aware. If Martinez fought, say, Peter Manfredo Jr, he'd be accused of fighting too soft an opponent. In the real world, where titles mean little, it's pretty much the same fight. Martinez is already getting some guff for fighting someone like Barker, who I believe is a step above Chavez anyway.
It's hard to figure where Martinez goes next if he wins as expected on Saturday. DiBella has both Andy Lee and Brian Vera signed, and those two are rematching on the undercard this weekend. He also has Manfredo, who is supposedly going to fight Chavez on November 19, and Matthew Macklin. And there are plenty of international fighters he could face -- Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Geale, Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam, even Marco Antonio Rubio. He could go up, or face a 154-pounder coming up. He has a far outside shot at Mayweather or Pacquiao. He'll find fights, but no, it's probably not going to be against Cotto or Chavez next year.