Sergio Martinez Reigns Supreme | Middleweight Rankings for April 2012Written by Lee Cleveland
Unfamiliar to many casual fight fans and the public mainstream, Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KO) may be boxing's best kept secret.
The 37 year old Argentinian is an awkward but highly-versatile ring technician who would arguably pose a threat to any fighter from 154-168 lbs. He was arguably the most avoided fighter in the sport for nearly two years until WBC Middleweight Champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr agreed to face him in September, provided the latter defeats Andy Lee this summer.
Sergio Martinez recently told FightSaga he never thought he'd get the opportunity to fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr for the WBC Middleweight title. When asked why he thought Bob Arum changed his mind about allowing Chavez Jr face him, Martinez uttered, "The only thing we can think of is that Bob Arum saw something in my last fight that he thinks might be a weakness or something they can take advantage of."
Although he's relatively unknown to the masses, Sergio Martinez is the Ring champion and owner of the revered "lineal" middleweight title. Whether insiders call him the modern-day Marvin Hagler or Rocky Graziano, Sergio Martinez, like Hagler and Graziano, holds boxing's real and legitimate middleweight championship. Simply put, the other middleweight champions are mere titleholders.
If FightSaga's top middleweight is true to form against Chavez Jr, provided that bout comes to fruition, expect Martinez to engage in a superfight with Floyd Mayweather, Jr, Saul Alvarez or Miguel Cotto soon thereafter. And although Martinez's manager, Lou DiBella, has emphatically stated a move to super middleweight was not nor will ever be in the cards, money often changes minds... especially in boxing. And while Sergio Martinez would lack size as a super middleweight, he possesses a 75" reach and many believe he has tools to compete in the upper echelon of the division. Although not likely, a potential multi-million dollar showdown against an elite level super middleweight is not entirely out of the question.
Previously viewed by promoters, managers and trainers as 'too much risk for the reward,' Sergio Martinez stands on the cusp of mainstream stardom as he will finally have the opportunity to captivate the masses and extend his reach far beyond the sport's hardcore enthusiasts.
Middleweight Rankings, April 15, 2012
1. Sergio Martinez, 49-2-2, 28 KO
Having orchestrated four consecutive knockouts over Paul Williams, Serhiy Dzinziruk, Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin, the lineal middleweight champion has lost only once in his last 35 bouts (MD 12, Paul Williams, 2009). Last month, Martinez knocked out Matthew Macklin in stunning fashion to retain his status as the world's top middleweight. And later this year, Martinez will fight the winner of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr vs Andy Lee. If victorious, a possible superfight with Floyd Mayweather Jr may be on the horizon provided the latter tames Miguel Cotto next month.
2. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., 45-0-1-1NC, 31 KO
Unbeaten in 47 bouts, the WBC Middleweight Champion often enters the ring a full 20 lbs over the middleweight limit of 160. Chavez gained some respect with an impressive points win over the tough and rugged Marco Antonio Rubio in February. And although the Mexican hasn't fought a 'Who's Who' of middleweights, very few in the top ten have. His impressive wins over Rubio and Peter Manfredo coupled with his undefeated record and high activity rate (47 bouts in nine years) are enough to propel him to No. 2. The 6'0" Chavez will face the division's lineal champion, Sergio Martinez, later this year provided he defeats world class middleweight Andy Lee. If Chavez fights Martinez in September, he will likely enter the ring 18-23 lbs heavier than his opponent. However, although two inches shorter, the Argentinian would enjoy a slight reach advantage.
3. Felix Sturm, 37-2-2, 16 KO
Unbeaten in his last 13 bouts, the 33 year old German hasn't lost since his July 2006 dust-up with Javier Castillejo. Often criticized for allegedly fighting unworthy challengers, Strurm's draw against Martin Murray and controversial win against Matthew Macklin, both in 2011, only fueled the fire of his many critics. However, Sturm restored some of his lost credibility on April 13th by in stopping Sebastian Zbik - a top 10 middleweight who sported an impressive 30-1 record. Zbik's lone loss came via a close, majority decision to current WBC Middleweight Champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr last year. Will the 5′ 11½″Sturm's impressive win Zbik propel him into a future superfight with Julio Cesar Chavez or Sergio Martinez?
4. Paul Williams, 41-2, 27 KO
The former welterweight and jr middleweight champion has only lost twice in 43 fights and is coming off an impressive, landslide points win over Nobuhiro Ishida earlier this year. As a middleweight, the 6'1" Williams is only 3-1 but top-ranked Sergio Martinez accounted for one of those victories as well as his lone defeat in the division. Williams boasts victories over Kermit Cintron, Winky Wright, Verno Phillips, Carlos Quintana and Antonio Margarito. It remains to be seen if 'The Punisher' can be a force at 160 lbs but he's 6'1", possess a 79" reach and has beaten a hand full of top tier fighters albeit at a lower weight. Given Paul Williams is a former world champion at welterweight and jr middleweight and holds a victory over Sergio Martinez at middleweight, his No. 4 placement shouldn't be a surprise.
5. Daniel Geale, 27-1, 15 KO
The 31 year old Geale is not well known outside of Australia but posts an impressive record with his sole loss coming via a close split decision to Anthony Mundine in 2009. Geale TKO'd Roman Karmazin (then 40-3-2) in 2011 and won a spit decision over Sebastian Sylvester (then 34-3-1) the following year. In March, Geale won a unanimous decision over the unheralded Osumanu Adama and there's been talk about the 5'10" Geale facing Dmitry Pirog later this year or Sergio Martinez next year. Ring Magazine rates Geale No. 2 but his resume isn't as impressive as the five fighters who precede him.
6. Dmitry Pirog, 19-0, 15 KO
The 6'1" Russian has had only 19 fights but his last three wins have come against Daniel Jacobs (then 20-0), Javier Francisco Maciel (then 18-1) and Gennady Martirosyan (then 22-2). Furthermore, the 31 year old Pirog has an strong amateur pedigree, winning 230 amateur fights and several Russian National Amateur Championships. Like Kostya Tsyzu in the 1990s, Pirog is far more experienced than most fighters with more extensive professional resumes. And not unlike many world champions today, Dmitry Pirog suffers from a lack exposure which is likely due to his low activity rate. When he fights Nobuhiro Ishida next month, he will have been out of the ring eight months and it will mark only his seventh bout since December 2008.
7. Andy Lee, 28-1, 20 KO
In the drama-riddled but increasingly competitive middleweight division, "Irish" Andy Lee has risen above the competition to place in world title contention. His bout with WBC Champion Julio Cesar Chavez is confirmed and the winner will meet Sergio Martinez for middleweight supremacy. Lee, who has reeled off 13 straight wins, stands 6'2" (very tall for a middleweight), fights in a southpaw stance and is mentored by the well-respected Emanuel Steward. Moreover, since avenging his sole loss to Brian Vera, Andy Lee has defeated every fighter he's faced. However, aside from Craig McEwan (then 19-0), some argue the tall middleweight has yet to defeat a top prospect. Andy Lee scored a 10th Round TKO over McEwan in March 2011 in a bout that was even on the judges' cards to that point.
8. Peter Quillin, 26-0, 20 KO
The Brooklyn fighter known as 'Kid Chocolate' is undefeated in 26 fights and yields an impressive 77% knockouts-to-fights ratio. In 2011, Freddie Roach publicly stated Quillin could beat Sergio Martinez. The tall and aggressive but untested Quillin had only eight amateur bouts, in stark contrast to FightSaga's No. 7 Dmitry Pirog. The 28 year old Quillin stopped Criag McEwan (then 19-1) in November 2011 and appears to have one-punch knockout power in both hands - But aside from McEwan, 'Kid Chocolate' has yet to face stiff opposition. On June 2, Quillin will face former two-division champion "Winky" Wright (51-5-1, 25 KO). The 40 year old Wright will enter the ring following three years of inactivity. Will Peter be the first to knockout the veteran?
9. Martin Murray, 23-0-1, 10 KO
Undefeated in 20 bouts, Murray's recent draw with No. 3 Felix Sturm puts him in the top ten... at least temporarily. Originally on track to fight WBC Middleweight Champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Chavez vs Murray was cancelled as a result of Murray's inability to obtain a visa within the time required. Was Murray's performance against Sturm a fluke? Can Murray become a force in the division as a hard-nosed pressure fighter with average power? The Brit is scheduled to fight again in June but his opponent has yet to be determined. Martin Murray told FightSaga before his bout with Sturm last year, "... I'm young, fresh and hungry."
10. Gennady Golovkin, 22-0, 19 KO
With a 86% knockouts-to-fights ratio, the 5'10" Golovkin certainly appears to have the potential to become a threat to any middleweight. However, of his 22 vanquished foes, only one name stands out. Last year, the Russian stopped a shopworn Kassim Ouma (then 27-7-1). The current WBA (Regular) Middleweight Champion won a Silver medal competing as a middleweight a 2004 Olympic Games, defeating Andre Dirrell in the process. Golovkin appears to have the skills to become a force but must raise his level of opposition or his activity rate to move higher in the rankings.
Marco Antonio Rubio
Lee is Managing Editor of FightSaga.com, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.
A gym rat in the 1990s, Lee was trained by 1976 Olympic Silver Medalist Charles Mooney and several retired seasoned pros. He was also a sparring partner for former WBA Super Middleweight Champion Steve Little who upset Michael Nunn for the WBA Super Middleweight Title in '94.
Lee created FightSaga.com to honor and preserve boxing's rich heritage, chronicle the achievements of top fighters, celebrate the legacy of big fights and provide a fun, educational experience for fight fans.