On April 27th, Middleweight kingpin Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez will make his much anticipated ‘Homecoming’ in his native country of Argentina, when he looks to defend his WBC middleweight title against England’s undefeated interim WBA middleweight champion Martin Murray (25-0-1, 11KO’s).
Only one week after tickets went on sale, just a few hundred were left available for purchase at the entire 50,000-seat venue. With the bout being the first for Martinez in his native country since 2002, and first ever as world champion, the expectations for the turnout on fight night were high, but even the organizers of the event in Argentina were blown away by the fan response.
“I am very pleased with the way the event has been received by my fellow countrymen and I promise to give them a performance that will be talked about for years to come,” stated the Champion Martinez.
“This is a dream come true for me and I hope it inspires the youth in Argentina and the world that with hard work and a clean lifestyle anything is possible.”
Martinez added, “I would also, from the bottom of my heart, like to thank HBO Sports president Ken Hershman, who I asked personally when I was out to lunch with him, Sampson (Lewkowicz), Lou (DiBella), and Nathan (Lewkowicz), in New York City, if HBO could facilitate a fight for me in Argentina after the Chavez fight. Ken Hershman promised they would work on it and now it has come to fruition.”
“This is a massive opportunity for me and it’s going to be a hard fight, but it doesn’t daunt me at all,” said the undefeated champion Murray.
“I’m told there’s going to be about 50,000 people in the stadium so it’s going to be very hostile. I’m always in the zone when I enter the ring though, so it makes no difference what people are doing around me. I’ll just be focused on going in there and doing my job.
“Sergio Martinez is easily the best middleweight in the world so obviously I’ll need to raise my game to beat him, but myself, and my team, know that’s something we’re very capable of doing. Winning this will make me the number one middleweight in the world and set up some more huge opportunities. Being on HBO is an absolute honor. It is the biggest stage in the world. There’s stardom to be had, but I don’t box for that. I’m doing this to prove I’m the best middleweight in the world and for the future of my wife and kids.”
“We are thrilled to be involved with this gigantic and historic event,” said Martinez’ longtime promoter Lou DiBella.
“Argentina’s favorite son, long-reigning middleweight champion Sergio ‘Maravilla’ Martinez, returns to his native land to defend his crown against the undefeated English challenger Martin Murray. In the co-feature, you have fellow Argentinean Luis Carlos Abregu facing Canada’s Antonin Decarie, in a highly anticipated welterweight matchup, with the World WBC Silver Championship at stake. This will be the first time that this great stadium will play host to a world championship boxing event, adding to what promises to be a truly memorable night for the sport of boxing and for the great country of Argentina.”
“HBO Boxing is delighted to be able to present live Sergio Martinez’ middleweight title defense from his homeland,” said Kery Davis, Senior Vice President, Programming, HBO Sports. “This doubleheader from Buenos Aires will have a true international flavor and spirit. We know all four fighters will be bringing their A-game on fight night. Boxing fans are in for a real treat. The telecast from a high-energy, open-air stadium will be exciting.”
“This is a massive step up for Martin but I think he could be getting Martinez at the right time. He (Martinez) was rocked all over the place in his last fight against Chavez Jr. and he’s 38-years-old,” said former world champion and promoter of Murray, Ricky Hatton.
“Martin has really come into his own the past couple of years and, to be honest, I think if he can pull this off it will go down as one of the best wins by a British fighter in history. When I beat Kostya Tsyzu he was ranked number two pound-for-pound in the world and I think most people have Martinez at number three. The difference is though that Martin’s going away from home for this fight, so if he wins, I think it’ll be bigger than my fight with Tsyzu.”
“This event will be a celebration, not just for the country of Argentina, but for the viewers of the best network in boxing, HBO,” proclaimed Sampson Lewkowicz, the longtime advisor of Martinez.
“The hard work for this event has paid off and we are now focusing on providing the fans of Argentina and the viewers of HBO a fantastic show that will rival any other production that they have seen in the past,” stated Martinez’ business manager Miguel Ángel de Pablos.
Never in the history of the sport has the President of a country made the official announcement of a fight as is the case with Martinez’ upcoming bout. In addition to announcing the world championship bout, Argentina’s President, Cristina Kirchner, also revealed that the fight will be shown live on public TV Channel 7 in Argentina, allowing 40 million Argentineans to see their champion defend his title on free television.
The bout against Murray will be Martinez’ first since regaining his WBC belt from Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the son of the legend. On September 15, 2012, in a masterful performance in his first HBO PPV headliner, Martinez, globally recognized as one of the top three pound-for-pound fighters in the world, dismantled the powerful, undefeated Mexican winning a dominant 12-round unanimous decision before a record-setting, sell-out crowd at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV.
Since defeating Kelly Pavlik for the championship in 2010, Martinez has made five title defenses, including four by devastating knockout, against top opponents with a combined record of 173-4-1.
The 30-year-old Murray, a former Commonwealth and British champion, is unbeaten in 26 professional bouts since turning pro in 2007. Unlike Martinez, who had a very limited amateur pedigree, Murray began boxing at just 11 years old and had a stellar amateur career that included winning the ABA (British senior) title in 2004.
In just his second year as a professional and with only 10 fights under his belt, Murray competed in the U.K.’s ever-popular ‘Prizefighter Middleweight Tournament’, knocking off two fellow undefeated prospects and ultimately winning the tournament in the process.
In 2009, he signed with Hatton Promotions, joining forces with one of Britain’s most popular boxers in its long-storied history, Ricky Hatton.
The bout will not be the first time that Murray has traveled into enemy territory. In 2011, he challenged longtime WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm in Sturm’s home country of Germany. In a give-and-take fight, Murray was dealt a 12-round split draw against Sturm, one that many boxing insiders questioned loudly.
Not to be deterred, Murray won both of his contests in 2012, including his most recent outing when he picked up the interim WBA middleweight title scoring a devastating sixth-round TKO over previously undefeated Jorge Navarro (12-0, 10KO’s) on November 24, 2012.
In the live televised co-feature, Martinez’ fellow countryman, longtime welterweight contender Luis Carlos Abregu (34-1, 28KO’s) takes on fellow top-rated contender Antonin Decarie (27-1, 8KO’s) for the vacant WBC Silver welterweight world title.
Both bouts will take place at the country’s famed 50,000-seat Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal, Argentina, with HBO World Championship Boxing providing live coverage starting at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT.