It’s just one pound, but anytime in boxing when there is a big-time world title fight contested at a catch weight, it stirs discussion.
And that is the case with middleweight champion Sergio Martinez and former three-division titleholder Miguel Cotto, who meet on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at Madison Square Garden in New York in a huge fight.
The division limit is 160 pounds, but the fight is being contested at a maximum weight of 159, supposedly to accommodate the smaller Cotto, who won his first world title at 140 pounds and later titles at 147 and 154.
“That is one of the concessions that we had to make. In my mind, a pound off is just silly,” said Lou DiBella, Martinez’s promoter. “It’s a middleweight title and it should be 160 pounds, but frankly Sergio has never weighed in at 160 before so I don't think it’s going to be a big issue to weigh in at 159. But that is one of those concessions that we found annoying during the course of the negotiations.”
In fact, Martinez has never weighed the full limit of 160 pounds for any of his eight middleweight fights, beginning with his debut in the division in the first fight he had with Paul Williams, for which Martinez was 159. So to contract the fight with Cotto at 159 should be no big deal.
Martinez was under 160 when he beat Kelly Pavlik for the title in 2010 and was under the limit for all of his six defenses.
The Cotto camp disputed DiBella’s assertion that it was a concession by Martinez to make the weight limit 159. The reason: Martinez’s adviser, Sampson Lewcowicz, is the one who suggested that Martinez would be willing to go lower than 160 in order to make the lucrative fight with Cotto.
At first, Lewcowicz suggested 158. Ultimately, they agreed on 159.
“That came from Sampson,” Cotto said of the catch weight suggestion. “The first thing we said when we sat at the table was that Sergio can't run like he did anymore, and he wants to make his weight. He is not going to be able to do less than 159 pounds. That came from them, not from us.”
Said Top Rank president Todd duBoef, Cotto’s promoter, “I will make it clean and simple. There were conversations between the camps before the negotiations even started between the two sides, and one of the things was the weight. It was just a negotiated piece, which was thrown out that there -- that they thought Martinez could get down in weight, and they both settled on 159. It was just one term or piece of the negotiations.
“It was mutual. There was a request and a conversation that both parties had that the fight could occur somewhere between 54 and 60 it was going to be in between. They had planted the seed and the settlement got done on the number.”
For Cotto, he said he feels strong at a heavier weight.
“I feel that I can do the pounds that I need to do,” he said. “[Trainer] Freddie [Roach] and [strength coach] Gavin [MacMillan] have given me the opportunity work well with the weight. I don’t see that as an issue at all. I have put that out of my mind.”
Cotto, known as a big puncher, said he feels his power will come up with him.
“When you are a guy with power, no matter where you are going, you are going to carry that power with you,” he said. “I am going to go in the ring at the weight that is most comfortable for me. It doesn't necessarily have to be 159 [at Friday’s weigh-in]. I am going to be comfortable. I have going to be happy. I am going to do my best.”