Martinez ready for middleweight king Pavlik
Rarely does a fighter get the biggest opportunity of his career
That’s precisely what happened to Sergio Martinez.
The junior middleweight champion dropped a close and somewhat
questionable decision to feared puncher Paul Williams in December,
but Martinez performed so well and made such an entertaining bout
that he was given another chance in the spotlight.
On Saturday night, Martinez will face middleweight king Kelly
Pavlik at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., in the main event
of an HBO-televised doubleheader. Super middleweight champion
Lucian Bute faces Edison Miranda in the opener from Montreal.
“You will see a great fight and definitely I will take my
championship back to Argentina,” Martinez said Wednesday, during a
final news conference for the event. “All this year I was praying
for this particular fight and everybody knows I’m ready for a
Martinez has quickly amassed a significant following among
boxing aficionados, and for good reason. The former cyclist and
soccer player is one of the fastest 154-pound fighters in the
world, with tremendous movement and tactical ability that resonates
He also exudes charisma.
Martinez showed up for the final meet-and-greet with media and
fans dressed in a dark gray suit, red power tie, and rock star
shades that he wore even in the dimly lit upstairs reception room
of Gallagher’s Steakhouse. He shook hands, cracked jokes and smiled
freely – and laughed uncontrollably when “Don’t Cry for Me
Argentina” played over the sound system.
“He’s got tremendous athleticism and conditioning, he’s always
in shape, he’s always quick,” said his promoter Lou DiBella. “He
fights in a style all his own, and that’s why he’s one of the best
154-pounders in the world.”
Despite so much going for him, Martinez (44-2-2, 24 KOs) has
been stung by questionable judging and scoring when he’s been on
the sport’s biggest stage.
He fought Kermit Cintron last February in Sunrise, Fla., and
managed only a draw despite most ringside observers giving him the
fight handily. Martinez then returned to the ring against Williams
in December, battling one of the most dynamic fighters in the sport
for 12 rounds, this time losing a majority decision in a candidate
for Fight of the Year.
“If they’re worried about the referees and the judges, you
won’t even need to bring the judges that night. They won’t be
needed,” Pavlik’s trainer, Jack Loew, said half-jokingly. “They
can stay home that night, because it won’t go the distance.”
Pavlik had wanted a fight with Williams, but the acrimonious
relationship between the two fighters and their camps prevented it
from happening. So he extended the opportunity to Martinez in what
will still be the most dangerous fight he’s had in more than a
“He wasn’t that known in the States, but that Williams fight
put him on the map,” Pavlik said. “He’s a tough fighter, he’s
slick, pretty good hand speed. But I’ve seen him do a lot of things
wrong in his fights. There’s goods and bads.”
DiBella believes that if Martinez can coax the fight to a
decision, this time it will go in his favor. Martinez typically
throws a high volume of punches, whereas Pavlik (36-1, 32 KOs) will
often wait for openings to land a power shot.
Still, DiBella confided that it is a dangerous matchup and he’s
concerned that Martinez could get caught with a knockout punch if
he isn’t careful.
“This is a matchup that’s about as good as it gets,” DiBella
said. “Kelly didn’t have to take this fight – he could have taken
another route – but he took the toughest guy who wanted to face
him. It’s going to be a great fight.”