Sergio Gabriel Martinez sent another resounding message to the boxing community by thumping the Hibernian-Briton Matthew Macklin on Saturday night. Macklin fought hard and had his moments, especially in the 5th and 7th Rounds. However, Macklin’s mid-fight momentum caused Martinez to unleash more violence, leading to Macklin’s corner to throw in the towel before the start of the 12th Round. Macklin proved even tougher than I thought he was (I predicted a 9th Round TKO), but otherwise the fight results were unsurprising, and Maravilla got his man out of there before the final bell.
This was one more impressive statement by Martinez, who has now defeated five highly regarded fighters in the last two years. Of those five, only Kelly Pavlik survived to the final bell.
All eyes now turn to Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., and to understand why a short recent history lesson is in order. Martinez was the WBC Middleweight Champion until the WBC, under President-for-Life Jose Sulaiman, stripped Martinez on the flimsiest of excuses, and handed their green strap to Chavez, Jr. on a silver platter. It was a blatantly obvious move in favor of the Chavez clan, longtime cronies of the WBC’s ruling family.
—-> Check out the entire Martinez vs. Macklin post-fight photo gallery & wrap up
Martinez became the WBC’s “Diamond Champion,” a designation that is all-but meaningless excepting one thing: ostensibly, the Diamond Champion has the right to insist on a mandatory challenge of the “real” champion at any time. The WBC half-heartedly allowed Martinez to assert this right by making Chavez, Jr. vs. Marco Antonio Rubio and Martinez vs. Macklin a tournament of sorts, with the winner of Martinez vs. Macklin receiving a guaranteed shot at the title, regardless of whether it was Chavez or Rubio who held it.
This is boxing, however, and you don’t need to be a cynic to wonder if Martinez vs. Chavez will ever come to fruition. Chavez has improved his reputation somewhat over the last two years with a few respectable wins, and most observers no longer view him as being a protected hack trading on his father’s illustrious name and connections. Even so, compare what Chavez has been doing for the last two years against what Martinez’s aforementioned record: four of his last five opponents are “names,” but the best two on that list — Rubio and Sebastian Zbik — are in no way comparable to anyone on Martinez’s recent resume. Martinez is the heavy favorite in any clash with Chavez, and squaring off with Maravilla must be a daunting prospect for the still semi-sheltered JCC, Jr.
Whether Chavez, Jr. goes through with it depends greatly on what his options really are. If he can secure a shot at some other middleweight crown — Daniel Geale’s IBF or Dmitry Pirog’s WBO belts, for example — he might decide his undefeated status is worth more to him than the WBC’s strap and vacate it rather than face Martinez. It is a very realistic possibility, given that virtually any other beltholder in the division is a less formidable opponent than Martinez, and any of them would make a lucrative payday fighting Chavez. Furthermore, the mere fact that Sulaiman is forcing Chavez to fight Martinez indicates the Chavez clan’s political capital with the WBC goes only so far, and for the moment, it looks spent.
On the other hand, Chavez might stick it out after all. The only thing that is certain right now is that Martinez vs. Chavez Jr. is hardly a foregone conclusion.