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Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Boxing; Cotto to face Martinez in New York
Miguel Cotto will move up a weight division to challenge WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez on June 7 in New York.
The match has been in the works for some time and will take place at Madison Square Garden on the weekend of the annual Puerto Rico parade, as Cotto aims to become the first man in the nation's history to win titles in four weight divisions. Both fighters took to Twitter to confirm the news on Thursday.
It will be Argentine Sergio Martinez's seventh title defence, though he has been out of the ring since April, when he was knocked down by Briton Matthew Macklin before going on to triumph, which has happened to him in each of his previous three bouts.
Cotto, who has fought at Madison Square Garden nine times before, proved he still had plenty to offer despite his age by beating Delvin Rodriguez in October, and his promotor confirmed a deal has finally been struck to take that number into double figures.
"It's done. Ready to go," Top Rank president Todd duBoef told ESPN. "I think the energy and the passion associated with both these fighters and the passion that their countries have for them is going to make this an incredible event and an incredible fight, maybe unprecedented in my career, which is over 20 years.
"You're talking about two icons in their countries, two guys who represent so much to their people, and now they are going to get in the ring and do it. You're talking about two fighters who have electrified fans in the sport for many years, and now they will do it in the same ring together on the same night. It will be an incredible event."
Talks were so lengthy that Martinez, 39, resolved to "give Cotto everything he wants" to make the bout happen, including the first name in the billing of the fight, which usually automatically goes to the champion.
The Argentine admits he is delighted to have finally agreed to what may well be his swansong fight, following a year hampered with injury.
"It has been my dream to fight in the big room at Madison Square Garden, a place where many great fighters have showcased their talents." Martinez said. "It is the biggest stage in the world and the world will be watching this fight."
In what will be Cotto's first fight at middleweight, a catchweight of 159lb, just one pound under the division's normal limit, has been agreed.