Martinez embracing attention
The world waits for Saturday’s Sergio Martinez bout.
After knocking out Paul Williams in the second round to capture the WBC middleweight title in his last fight, Martinez has seen a meteoric rise in profile. Now boxing fans are eager to tune in to see if those types of fireworks happen again against Sergiy Dzinzurik (HBO, Saturday at 10:30 P.M. ET).
Martinez, 36, may not have too much longer to capitalize on his surge in popularity. However, he says he feels as good now as he ever has.
“I feel great and I’m ready to fight,” he said. “This training camp was probably the hardest training camp, so I’m glad it’s almost over.”
The undefeated Dzinzurik is no sparring partner, but neither was Williams, who at the top, was a top 10 pound-for-pound fighter. Since he dispatched Williams in such quick fashion, the bar is set even higher for this fight. Does Martinez feel pressure for this encore?
“Actually it’s the opposite,” he said. “I don’t feel any pressure at all. In fact, I feel more motivated. I’m just more excited than ever, and I’m very eager to put on a great show.”
Martinez acknowledges the challenge in front of him however. He notes Dzinzurik’s intelligence, jab and counterpunching as attributes that stood out as he studied his Ukrainian opponent for the fight. To many, this is a no-win situation for Martinez. Even though he is facing an undefeated boxer, the feeling is that if he wins, it will not be a major victory. On the other hand, an upset, which some experts say is entirely possible, could end the ride for Sergio.
As the attention has increased, and as he has climbed the pound-for-pound rankings to be mentioned in the same breath as Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao atop the sport, the microscope on Martinez has proportionately increased. Again, Martinez maintains it is not something that will affect him in the ring.
“You know, it actually hasn’t been a problem and this is something that comes with the territory and I’m honored to be mentioned in different parts of the country and different parts of the world,” Martinez said. “It really just humbles me. It’s not a problem. I actually love it.”
Rather than coast, Martinez has taken his newfound fame as a challenge to improve even more, and he’s confident the Sergio Martinez who steps into the ring Saturday night will be the best version yet.
“My fans will see the best Sergio Martinez,” he said. “I’m more prepared. This is the best training camp I’ve had. I have the best team, and my fans will see that.”