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Cotto vs. Martinez: One Long, Silent, Intense Staredown Before the Fight

Diego Morilla covers the weigh in prior to the bout between Cotto and Martinez

NEW YORK.- The raging war of words that was brewing between the main event contestants watered down to a few commonplace defiant statements for the cameras, and then it only became one long, silent, intense staredown in the final event before their meeting at the storied local Madison Square Garden, with one of boxing’s most prestigious titles on the line.

This Saturday night, three-time world champion Miguel Cotto (38-4, 31 KO) will be attempting a feat that few of his Puerto Rican compatriots ever attempted and no one achieved when he tries to capture a title in a fourth division as he takes on undisputed 160 lb champ Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KO) from Argentina.

And they both got their first chance to perform for the cameras and a large and raucous audience at The Theater of the Madison Square Garden during their weigh-in, which produced some surprising results.

Martinez came in only a few ounces below the catch-weight limit for this particular fight, which was set at 159 lbs, while Cotto surprised everyone by stopping the scales at 155 lbs, only a pound above the junior middleweight limit and thus making a statement about speed, and not necessarily power, being his weapon of choice against the champ, known as a mobile, quick-handed fighter.

“I am ready to make history,” quipped Cotto in his brief address to a live audience comprised mostly of his countrymen, part of the numerous Puerto Rican community in New York that have supported him unconditionally in his nine appearances at the Mecca of Boxing, and which will make their presence be felt just as loudly on Saturday during the main event.

“I will take this title and this victory to Argentina, and I will win by knock-out,” responded Martinez, who will also attract a large contingent of fans traveling especially for this fight, whom will be warming up to cheer on their national team in the upcoming soccer World Cup.

Questions have abounded about Martinez’s physical condition (especially in relation to his right knee, in which he has undergone several surgeries) and about Cotto’s ability to take a punch from a true middleweight, but the only answer we got during this weigh-in ceremony was their ability to avoid blinking at the sight of each other’s eyes.

And judging by what we saw, we’re in for a fight befitting the prestige of the venue, the fighter’s personal history and the title at stake.

Not a bad proposition, at all.

The undercard:

Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (23-3-1, 19 KO) vs. Marvin Sonsona (18-1-1, 15 KO)

Jorge Melendez (28-3-1, 19 KO) vs. Javier Maciel (28-3, 20 KO)

Andy Lee (33-2, 22 KO) vs. John Jackson (18-1, 15 KO)

Félix “Diamante” Verdejo (12-0, 9KO) vs. Engelberto Valenzuela (9-1, 3KO)

José “Wonder Boy” López (12-0, 10KO) vs. Raul Hidalgo (21-10, 16KO)

Jantony Ortíz (debut) vs. Elio Ruiz (1-4)

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