By Francisco Salazar
How does a fighter go from winning a title decisively against Kelly Pavlik to watching from ringside while two fighters battle for that same title? Ask Sergio Martinez. While Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. and Sebastian Zbik were battling in the ring at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA on Saturday night for that title, Sergio Martinez watched the fight from ringside. No one bothered him or advisor Sampson Lewkowicz as the action in the ring was exciting and appealing to the pro-Chavez crowd in attendance.
Martinez is not going to ask questions, as neither are the media and astute fight fans who know “the game” of boxing politics very well. Zbik, elevated from interim world titleholder, made his first defense of the full title and lost the belt to Chavez by majority decision. Although Martinez was disappointed that he was labeled the “WBC Emeritus middleweight champion,” essentially paving the way for Chavez and Zbik to fight for his title, he has moved on and is focusing on his next fight against a variety of possible opponents. His next bout will be scheduled for October 1 in Connecticut, Atlantic City, or the Los Angeles-area, not far from his new home in Oxnard.
Although there are mixed opinions about who won the fight, most can conclude that Chavez made some impressive adjustments in the ring. Chavez attacked the body, which dropped Zbik’s punch output in the second half of the fight.
As people debate about the fallout from the fight, Martinez felt that Chavez was deserving of the victory.
“I thought that Chavez clearly won the fight,” Martinez told Fightnews.com at the post-fight press conference on Saturday night. “Chavez did great work to the body and he pressured Zbik to the body.”
Lewkowicz told Fightnews.com in a previous interview that had Zbik and his team had verbally committed to fighting Martinez should he successfully defended his title.
Now that Zbik is returning to Germany without his belt, Martinez said that no fight would take place with Zbik.
“Although there was verbal agreement, Zbik is out because he lost the title. As far as we are concerned, we are fighting anyone but Zbik on October 1st.”
So, who will step inside the ring against Martinez on October 1st? Or, who would Martinez want to fight on that night? As far as he is concerned, Martinez thinks Chavez or any fighter from Top Rank would stay away from him for the time being.
“(Bob) Arum would never have any of his fighters face me. Arum has had bad experiences with me with Pavlik. I would like to fight Chavez because he has the WBC belt. The one I had before losing it in an office and not in the ring.”
“I wanted to fight Miguel (Cotto). We offered him the opportunity to fight me. But he turned it down.”
If a fight with Chavez could not be made, even though the WBC does mandate for the popular Mexican to defend it against Martinez, the Argentine-born boxer does have other options on the table.
There could be a possible fight against number one middleweight contender Marco Antonio Rubio, who won the fight to face Chavez with a scintillating stoppage victory over David Lemieux. Lou DiBella, Martinez’s promoter, told Fightnews.com that if a bout is made against Rubio, that it would more than likely be held in the Los Angeles-area.
Another possibility would be unbeaten and hard-hitting Dmitry Pirog, who holds a world title belt at 160 pounds as well.
With so many options, Martinez, Lewkowicz, and DiBella have a lot to consider. However, no one involved with boxing would get the wrong answer when asked the question, “Who is the linear middleweight champion on the world?”.