NEW YORK -- Whispers swirled around the Theater at Madison Square Garden early Friday that Sergio Martinez was having a tough time making the contractually agreed upon 159-pound limit for his WBC middleweight title defense on HBO Pay-Per-View on Saturday against Miguel Cotto.
It wasn't easy, but Martinez made it by a quarter pound, coming in at 158.75, and allowing promoter Lou DiBella to breath a sigh of relief.
"I knew he'd make weight because he's a pro's pro, but it couldn't have been easy," DiBella said. "He's 39 years old. He couldn't pound the road work the way he's done in the past. It's not because his knees are bad, but because he wanted to save himself the pounding and so he needed to find another way to do it. He needed to make some adjustments to his training regimen and Cotto knew what he was doing making him come in [at 159 pounds]."
Cotto weighed a surprisingly light 155 pounds. Trainer Freddie Roach said Cotto, who is fighting for the first time at middleweight, never weighed more than 162 pounds during training camp in Los Angeles and would likely rehydrate to around 162 by fight time late Saturday.
Roach said he discussed with Cotto and strength and conditioning coach Gavin McMillan what would be the best weight and ultimately decided upon 155. They also considered weighing 158.
"We decided to go with the lower number because it will allow him to have faster hand speed and that will be the difference in the fight," Roach said.
Martinez is coming into the fight with plenty of question marks surrounding his health. His right knee has been operated on after each of his past two outings and the one following his win on April 27, 2013, over Martin Murray in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was very significant.
DiBella said that while there is a right to question Martinez's durability, he said he has no concerns himself.
"[HBO broadcasters Jim] Lampley and [Max] Kellerman were asking him if he could go 12 hard rounds," DiBella said. "Hell, the guy went 12 hard rounds in a tropical typhoon with a bad shoulder, his knee ripped around and a broken hand, and he never quit. Here, he's going to be in climate-controlled Madison Square Garden and he's not going to be slipping around on a wet ring.
"He'll be fine. People are also talking about the 14 months off, but he's not going to forget how to box. This guy's athleticism is on a par with Roy Jones', and the time off will be good for him. He got time to recuperate and heal."
The pay-per-view portion of the card begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.