Sergio Martinez: The WBC's Prodigal Son?

Written by Richard V. Powell at Jan 31, 2012 - 10:34PM ET in News
Photo Courtesy of WBCBoxing.com Photo Courtesy of WBCBoxing.com
In every large family there seems to be that one child that, no matter how much they've been nurtured and protected, rebels to the bitter end bites the very hand that feeds them. That child usually leaves the nest and struggles on its own, eventually to return, discouraged and humbled.

For Jose Sulaiman and the WBC, that prodigal son is Sergio Martinez.

It's well documented that President Sulaiman personally treats every member of the WBC like family so when conflicts arise, and they often do, he is forced to take the role of mediator or arbitrator. As he has stated publicly, after those conflicts are resolved one side is usually happy and one is not. According to President Sulaiman, the unhappy side usually blames him for their woes thereby making the WBC the scapegoat.

Is that what transpired with Sergio Martinez?

The WBC has played a pivotal role in the ascension of Sergio Martinez into world championship boxing. When Martinez was first brought to the attention of Jose Sulaiman, he was fighting in Argentina and Spain and was a virtual unknown. His career really took a bad turn in 2000 when he was KO'd by Antonio Margarito in the seventh, leaving home with a reported $800.00 in his pocket.

But Martinez's fortune would begin to change.

Former WBC Vice President Rueben Martinez saw something special in Sergio and began supported Sergio until he died five years ago. He brought Sergio Martinez under the wing of the WBC and since then the organization has done many things to support him.

It's been well documented that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr has many advantages available to him that others don't because of who his father is – Yet, an examination of the facts shows that Martinez has received his share of preferential treatment from the kind hand of the WBC.


The following is a list of the WBC's favorable actions that have helped Martinez's career.

  • 2007: The WBC ordered a final elimination bout for Martinez vs Saul Roman which he won by fourth round knockout.
  • 2008: The WBC Champion Vernon Forrest got injured and President Sulaiman ordered an interim championship which Martinez won by KO vs. Alex Bunema.
  • 2009: Martinez is allowed by the WBC to fight Paul Williams in a non-title, over the weight fight. Even though he lost to Williams, he was kept as champion by the WBC.
  • 2010: The WBC once again allowed Martinez to fight over weight and challenge Kelly Pavlik for the WBC Middleweight title, which he captured.
  • 2010: The WBC then gave Martinez all the time he needed to decide which title he wanted to keep. He chose to keep the Middleweight belt
  • 2011: The WBC allowed the rematch with Paul Williams instead of his mandatory, Zbik with an agreement that the winner would fight Zbik.
  • 2011: Martinez decided not to fight Zbik and asked to fight Serhei Dzinziruk instead. The WBC granted his request.
  • 2011: The WBC supported Martinez with Emeritus Status as well as honoring him with the Diamond Championship Belt.


Jose Sulaiman's fondness for Chavez Jr is well known, as he has publicly stated that he has known Chavez Jr since his birth. There is also a well-publicized bond between President Sulaiman and father Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. Those decades of friendship are often seen as the reasons for Chavez Jr's receiving special treatment from the WBC but recent events have put those notions to rest.

But what hasn't been well-publicized are the feelings Jose Sulaiman has for Sergio Martinez. Quietly working behind the scenes to build Martinez's career, rooting for him and celebrating with him in his success, President Sulaiman feels a close bond with Martinez also.

Like the parable of the prodigal son in the Bible, Jose Sulaiman seems to be waiting for Martinez to return to the family.

Sergio Martinez has verbally attacked the WBC in interviews, knowing how it would affect President Sulaiman. In return, President Sulaiman has decided to remain relatively silent until now.

In an exclusive statement to FightSaga.com, WBC President Jose Sulaiman shared his feelings, intentions and insights about Sergio Martinez.

A messge from Jose Sulaiman...

FightSaga Readers: 

Sergio Martinez is a very special fighter and person both to the WBC and to myself. Our dear First Vice President, Mr. Ruben Martinez, who has left an indelible mark in boxing and who passed away 5 years ago, was a very strong supporter of Sergio Martinez for many years. He started a relentless campaign to support this unknown fighter who was living in Spain and who was getting no opportunities in the boxing world.

The WBC has been supporting Sergio Martinez ever since and he has shown with his performance in the ring, his greatness and has made all of us very proud.

I have been involved in this sport more than 65 years as a commissioner and I have seen everything that any one would possibly see and the one thing that I am certain of is that boxers often say things, which they do not feel and which later regret. I am sure that Sergio never meant what he said in an interview at the beginning of the year; that for me is forgotten.

Sergio Martinez has shown to me his true face countless times.

He has visited Mexico after every world championship bout to visit the Virgin of Guadalupe shrine, to be a WBC Ambassador under the WBC Cares Program, where he visits with us orphanages, children's hospitals and abused women facilities always bringing others hope for a brighter future and happiness for the immediate present.

He also visits schools under our anti-bullying program and is always prepared with a smile to change the day of many.

I am very proud of Sergio Martinez as a fighter and as a person and it is unfair to judge such a wonderful man simply because of a bad day he had when his emotions made him feel as if he was lost.

The WBC simply has followed the convention ruling, and while others fight and scream the WBC will simply follow and perform with unquestionable fairness and justice to all.

I am looking forward to seeing Sergio in the very near future and embrace him as I have always done.

Please accept my warm and sincere regards.

Jose Sulaiman Ch.

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Sergio Martinez Highlights

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