Sergio Martinez said he expects to be "the same as when there were no knee problems" against three-division titlewinner Miguel Cotto on June 7 at New York's Madison Square Garden. THE RING and WBC middleweight champion has had two surgeries to repair ligament damage in his right knee.
After a unanimous decision victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in September 2012 during which he had to rise from a 12th-round knockdown, Martinez (51-2-2, 28 knockouts) received eight stitches to repair a cut over his left eye, two staples in his head and suffered from both a broken left hand and torn ligaments in his right knee, which required surgery to repair.
Martinez required a second surgery after having re-injured the knee, later determined to be a torn right meniscus, after rising from an eighth-round knockdown during a unanimous decision over Martin Murray in his last fight in April 2013.
"It is not easy to prepare for a fight when you have some of the ailments that I have when preparing for a world championship fight. I struggle with joint pains, knee pain and shoulder pain," said Martinez, during a recent interview.
"Without my physical therapist, Dr. Raquel Bordons, I would not be able to train today and probably would've had to retire due to my injuries. Because I train six days a week for an average of eight hours a day, I am always in constant pain."
But during a recent conference call addressing his health in advance of his clash with the 33-year-old Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs), Martinez asserted that he was "going to be fine come fight time."
"My knees are feeling great. I have been running in the mornings on the treadmill," said Martinez, who turned 39 in February. "It's been a great camp and I am feeling great and haven’t felt this good in a long time. The recuperation was very painful. I was on crutches for nine months, and it is very hard to come back from that."
Martinez, of Argentina, has been champion for four years since defeating Kelly Pavlik by a bloody unanimous decision in April 2010. Martinez hasn't lost since December 2009 during a "Fight of the Year"-caliber brawl with Paul Williams, but has begun to slow down precipitously.
Cotto will be working in just his second fight with trainer Freddie Roach as he ascends to the middleweight division to target a title in his fourth weight class. In his first fight with Roach in October, Cotto dominated junior middleweight contender Delvin Rodriguez, stopping him in three rounds.
Martinez has risen from the canvas during each of his past three fights comprised of an 11th-round stoppage of Matthew Macklin and unanimous decision victories over Chavez and Murray.
Martinez is 7-0 with four knockouts since falling to Williams, having avenged that loss by stopping Williams in the second round in November 2010 in defense of the WBC belt he won from Pavlik.
"This is the road that I chose, and I enjoy the achievement of coming back from something like this," said Martinez, referring to his injuries. "Everything is going to be fine come fight time. Right now, I am just the same as when there were no knee problems. I have overcome all obstacles."