Sunday, 16 September 2012 20:18

Sergio Martinez: 'Maravilla' Not the "New" Champion

Written by
Chris Farina/Top Rank Chris Farina/Top Rank

Sergio Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KOs) gave Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-1-1, 32 KOs) an old-fashioned boxing lesson en route to regaining the WBC Middleweight title last night.  

But is Sergio Martinez really the new champion?

Prior to the bout, many media outlets referred to Martinez as the "former middleweight" champion.

And after the fight, those same reporters are heralding 'Maravilla' as the "new" champion.

Both tags are false...

Sergio Martinez, although he was without a belt from a sanctioning body, was the lineal, RING Magazine Middleweight Champion of the World. As the lineal champion, Sergio Martinez owned the lineage that traces back to middleweight kings such as Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Robinson, Carlos Monzon, Nino Benvenuti, Emile Griffith, Jake LaMotta and Stanley Ketchel.

In essense, Sergio Martinez was, literally, the modern-day Marvin Hagler upon entering the ring Saturday night.

So although Julio Cesar Chavez Jr was the WBC Middleweight Champion prior to last night, 'Maravilla' was the real and legitimate champion because the lineal distinction trumps titles divied by sanctioning bodies.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, like fellow middleweights Daniel Geale and Gennady Golovkin, was a mere belt-holder.... One of many "belt-holders" in boxing today.

A bit confusing, isn't it?

And yes, by defeating Julio Cesar Chavez last night, Sergio Martinez regained the WBC's version of the middleweight title the organization wrongfully stripped him of in January 2011. So 'Maravilla' is the new "WBC Champion" but the strap he earned last night night pales in comparison to the "World Champion" distinction he had entering the ring.

Martinez's desire to regain his old WBC title made for a good storyline and enhanced the revenge factor but 'Maravilla' already had the ultimate prize prior to the bout.

Pictured: The coveted RING belt


A fighter with boxing's RING Magazine title (i.e. the  lineal distinction) can best be described as "the man who beat the man."

And unlike world titles granted by sanctioning bodies such as WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF, the prestigious RING title can only be won by:

  • defeating the previous lineal champion in the ring or 
  • via a box-off between two or more top-ranked contenders in the event the previous lineal champ retires, vacates the division or dies.

Sergio Martinez became the lineal middleweight champion on April 17, 2010 by defeating Kelly Pavlik by a unanimous decision. Pavlik earned the distinction by defeating Jermain Taylor who, in turn, won the RING title by defeating Bernard Hopkins - the sole, dominant middleweight champion at the time.

Pictured: Sergio Martinez, right, unloads on then-lineal middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik in April 2010


RING/Lineal Titles

RING Magazine, often referred to as the 'Bible of Boxing,' was founded in 1922 and has been awarding world championship belts since 1922.

Unlike sanctioning bodies, The RING has no monetary-motivated agenda and receives no reward for its services. Its purpose is to maintain the integrity of boxing, and the sport's lineal championship system is "intended to reward fighters who, by satisfying 'old-school' criteria, can justify a claim as the true and only world champion in a given weight class."

Today's RING/Lineal Boxing Champions are as follows:

  • Toshiyuki Igarashi, Flyweight
  • Danny Garcia, Jr Welterweight
  • Sergio Martinez, Middleweight
  • Andre Ward, Super Middleweight
  • Chad Dawson, Light Heavyweight (Loss to Ward was in the super middleweight division)
  • Yoan Pablo Hernandez, Cruiserweight
  • Wladimir Klitschko, Heavyweight
Leroy Cleveland

Lee is Managing Editor of, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.