Sergio Martinez Makes Wise Move on the Eve of FightWritten by Lee Cleveland
RING Magazine Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez has hired old school fight trainer Naazim Richardson to work in his corner for tomorrow's big fight.
And yes, Gabriel Sarmiento, Martinez's longtime trainer, will still handle the chief second duties.
But Richardson, who will serve as the 'Enforcer,' will be on-hand to make sure Team Chavez doesn't 'color outside the lines' and plays by all the rules.
Normally a head trainer, Naazim Richardson has served as chief second for Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins. However, he's known most for busting Felix Trinidad and Antonio Margarito for allegedly trying to cheat.
In 2001, he stopped Felix Trinidad from illegally wrapping his hands in such a way that it would have given him an unfair advantage against Bernard Hopkins. Richardson brought the controversy to the attention of the state commission and refused to allow Hopkins to enter the ring until the situation was resolved. As a result, the Puerto Rican phenom was forced to have his hands re-wrapped under the watchful eye of Richardson and the state commission representative.
Result: An underdog against Trinidad, Bernard Hopkins triumphed via a 10th Round TKO, placing himself among the greats of all-time.
And in 2009, the old school trainer from Philadelphia observed that Margarito had a pasty white substance in his handwraps. One doctor described this material as cast-like plaster hidden in the wrapped hands of Margarito, leading to Margarito's eventual one year suspension. More importantly, Margarito was forced to re-wrap his hands after Richardson observed something he didn't like.
Result: Ricardson's underdog fighter, Shane Mosley, prevailed via a late stoppage.
"Trinidad was an abrasion against the rules. Margarito downright had a weapon. There is a difference when you say you're playing chess and have your men lined up differently, as opposed to having extra men on the board. Margarito tried to bring extra men. He had an actual square block of plaster in his knuckle pad. Margarito had a strip over the back of his hand, around his thumb and wrapped two or three times down to the wrist.
"They told me it was because of a previous injury was why they wrapped it that way. One look and you could tell it wasn't right," said Naazim Richardson in a RING Magazine interview a few years ago.
To what extent Felix Trinidad and Antonio Margarito may have cheated (knowingly or not) prior to those bouts is not known but one thing is - Naazim Richardson has been in boxing a long time and knows all the tricks.
Martinez adviser Sampson Lewkowicz told BoxingScene, "We didn't want to take any chances. We are taking every precaution before this fight. We don't want another Antonio Margarito to happen."
"We are taking every measure to ensure that Sergio Martinez receives a fair fight."
Questions Linger About Team Chavez
At the weigh-in for Chavez vs Lee in June, a request from Lee's representatives to weigh the gloves prior to the fight was denied by Chavez trainer Freddie Roach and Texas Commission Sports Inspector Robert Tapia.
According to Lee's manager, Perry Mandera, "They brought their own gloves and we brought ours, so we thought in the interest of full disclosure and a level playing field, we would weigh both pair."
Also, for Chavez's two most recent bouts, there's been controversy surrounding the fighter's urine tests. Rumors swirled that Chavez refused to take the tests while others allege he's usually accompanied by one or two friends when urinating in a cup. Obviously, the second rumor was spread by someone who believes the urine that's being submitted is that of one of Chavez's buddies.
Perhaps Naazim Richardson will watch Chavez Jr pee in a cup too?
Either way, having Richardson on-hand for tomorrow's bout was a smart move by Team Martinez.
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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.