Shortly before Christmas, WBC President Jose Sulaiman announced at the WBC's 49th Annual Convention that Sergio Martinez (48-2-2, 27 KO) had officially been slotted as the immediate, mandatory opponent for reigning WBC Middleweight Champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. And for a moment, it seemed the politics that often clouds the sport had taken a holiday respite but within a week the Grinch, in the form of political ambiguity and confusion, came back to rear its ugly head.
Shortly after Sulaiman's announcement, reports surfaced by Team Chavez insisting their fighter, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (44-0-1-1NC, 31 KO), would be defending his WBC Middleweight title against Marco Antonio Rubio on February 4th – not Sergio Martinez.
Sergio Martinez and his advisor, Sampson Lewkowicz, were livid and the Ring Middleweight Champion didn't mince words.
"I would destroy him and he knows it. So does his father (Chavez Sr,) his trainer (Freddie Roach) and his promoter (Bob Arum). He's nothing but a coward," said Martinez.
The Martinez vs Chavez Fight Saga
The current fight saga, which has created tremendous friction between the Martinez and Chavez camps, will ultimately be extremely beneficial for both teams when or if the two men step in the ring to face one another. As with Mayweather and Pacquiao, a nasty rivalry has already developed between two men who have yet to fight each other and may never. Given the soap opera-like drama, name-calling and accusations, Sergio Martinez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr would likely be a major, high-profile event if it's signed.
The Role of a World Champion
While many boxing fans are divided on Chavez's alleged fear of Martinez, they are nearly unanimous in their belief that a "world champion" shouldn't sidestep top competition. Most fans acknowledge and accept that high-profile fighters' careers are carefully managed early on but assert there comes a time when management can turn into 'coddling.'
A world champion, Chavez is now a veteran of 46 professional fights including two world title bouts and many believe its time for him to cut the umbilical cord and fight the world's top-rated middleweight.
As a result, the 6'0" youthful-looking Chavez receives tremendous criticism from purists and casual fans alike.
According to many in the fight game, as long as Chavez is holding a world title he will be viewed as nothing more than a 'paper champion' until he fights Sergio Martinez. Perhaps through no fault of his own, Chavez will likely be chastised in the media by those who think he's not worthy of the attention he gets and that his ascension to the throne has more to do with his father's legacy than his prowess in the ring.
Does too much hand-holding (as some have called it), ruin the sport and mar the integrity of the game?
The Other Middleweight Champions
There are three other world middleweight belt-holders but none receive as much criticism as Chavez Jr because their popularity pales in comparison to Chavez's and they are widely accepted by the boxing community as 'belt holders' or paper champions, themselves.
In addition, Martinez was not promised a title shot by the WBA, IBF or WBO. He was, in fact, elevated to emeritus status and promised an inevitable title shot by the WBC- the sanctioning body that recognizes Chavez as its middleweight champion.
Is Chavez Scared to Fight Martinez?
Sergio Martinez insists 'Chavez is hiding under Arum's skirt' but it's not known how accurate his assessment is and probably won't ever be. To most fight fans, the real issue at-hand is probably the level of protection modern-day fighters, even world champions, are being subjected to.
Fans are vocal in their belief 'the best should fight the best' and that a fighter's cultivation ends when he dons a big pretty belt from a major sanctioning body that reads 'World Champion.'
While the definition of some words is ambiguous, there's no 'skirting' the definition of others.
1.a person who has defeated all opponents in a competition or
series of competitions, so as to hold first place: the heavyweight boxing champion.
2. a fighter or warrior.
3. one who shows marked superiority
Martinez is expected to attend Chavez's second title defense against Rubio February 4th so stayed tuned for continuing coverage on the Martinez - Chavez fight saga....