(Sergio Martinez at the press conference with adviser Sampson Lewkowicz and bullying victim Monique McClain, whose cause he has championed; picture by friend of the site nazarioz)
MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Once more, coming off another sterling, greatness-confirming win, there’s little sense of what is next for the middleweight champion of the world.
There’s no doubt about what Sergio Martinez proved against Serhiy Dzinziruk Saturday on HBO: He showed once more he’s one of the best in the world, arguably the best, by beating such a difficult opponent with relative ease. Said HBO’s Kery Davis: “He gets a lot more credit beating that guy the way he did.” Said Martinez’ promoter Lou DiBella: “It turns out Dzinziruk was the right guy to fight.” Said Gary Shaw, the promoter of Dzinziruk: “He’s the best at 154. But (Martinez) may be the best fighter in the world. I’ve been in boxing since 1971, and I’ve never seen anybody with more speed than Sergio Martinez… (Dzinziruk) showed a great jab. He showed he was a good technician, but he was willing to engage. He just ran into a buzz saw.” Martinez said it wasn’t an easy fight — he lifted his sunglasses to show the cut that would require an abbreviated press conference so that he could get stiches at the hospital.
Martinez’ promoter Lou DiBella wants “only big fights” for his man, but the biggest of big fights — Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, all of whom Martinez mentioned himself — appear to be beyond Martinez’ reach for one reason or the other. Mayweather may never fight again, while, to quote DiBella, promoter Bob Arum “is lining up bum after bum after bum” for Pacquiao and Cotto. Instead, DiBella said, “people should be lining up to fight” Martinez.
More likely, some other option will emerge. It won’t be Andy Lee, who, for as entertaining as the middleweight’s performance was Saturday in stopping Craig McEwan, isn’t ready for someone like Martinez, according to both DiBella and Davis. Lee himself told me the he recognizes he could be in a peculiar kind of demand: He was fun enough to be marketable, and vulnerable enough to be worth the risk. “I’m sure they’ll be queuing up.” He wasn’t happy with his performance and thinks there’s more to him than what he showed. But he said he’s ready to take anyone at 160. If he could get it, he’d take a rematch with Brian Vera. “I’d like to turn the tables on him,” Lee said.
Davis said Max Kellerman mentioned on the air that James Kirkland could be the right fight for Martinez in about a year. Alfredo Angulo is an option Davis wouldn’t dismiss. I asked about Dmitry Pirog, given fans’ interest in him since he beat Danny Jacobs, and Davis said is Pirog is a “good fighter,” but said he’d like to give more people in America an opportunity to see him, perhaps by pairing him on the undercard of a Martinez fight. Davis said he’d talk to DiBella about what options he’s looking for, but whatever the case, Davis said Martinez is an “HBO fighter.”
That leaves us where we were, though, right after Martinez knocked out Paul Williams late last year. There are no options that are both ideal and makeable. What we do know is that whatever Martinez does, no matter how difficult the style match-up, he’ll find a way to put on a show. And he’ll almost certainly be beating whomever he faces. There are not enough superlatives for the man.