Q&A: Sergio Martinez

By Boxing Bob Newman
Photo by Boxing Bob Newman

Newly crowned WBC middleweight champion Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez thrilled the crowd today at the International Boxing Hall-of-Fame in Canastota, New York with an up-tempo workout. After shaking out and doing some rope work, “Maravilla,” or “Marvel” got into the ring to work with trainer Gabriel Sarmiento. Martinez built up a good sweat doing lateral movement drills, shadow boxing and pad work. After posing for photos with IBF super middle champ Lucian Bute who watched the workout intently, Sergio took part in casting his fist, as do all fighters who visit the IBHOF grounds. Finally, the champ made good on his promise and that of adviser Sampson Lewkowicz to sit down with Fightnews to discuss his winning of the coveted middleweight crown, his future options and his pick for the FIFA World Cup tournament, now underway in South Africa…

Photos: Boxing Bob Newman

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Sergio, congratulations on winning your second world crown and thank you for taking the time out from your schedule here at the Hall of Fame to talk with us. This is your thirteenth year as a professional boxer. Does it seem like a long haul, or can you believe it’s gone by so fast?

Definitely it was a long and hard way, however, thirteen years as a pro is still young. I still feel young at thirty-five years old.

There has been a lot of anticipation about which title you’ll keep: super welter, or middleweight. Can you answer definitively which way you’re leaning?

I’m still thinking about it definitely. I’ll take a few more days too see what real options come my way.

Will the decision depend on the more attractive options?

Yes. We want to see what are the better fights, the better rivals. Then I’ll make the decision.

As far as attractive options go, it would seem like super welterweight would be the better choice, with some of the stars at welterweight like Mayweather, Pacquiao, and at super welter with Cotto back in the mix. How do feel about those possibilities?

They are all great champions. However, I’m waiting for them to say, “Yes.” Somebody needs to step up to the plate.

In beating Pavlik, you beat the guy, who beat the guy, who beat the guy and so on. Therefore, you are the true, linear champion. How does that piece of history, being linear champion going back to your countryman, the great Carlos Monzon, feel to you?

Oh! It’s a great pleasure for me to be even mentioned with Monzon. With even ten percent of Monzon, makes me happy anyway!

Prior to getting the shot against Pavlik, you had that very tough, disputed loss against Paul Williams. First of all, do you still feel you won that Williams fight? Secondly, it’s not unheard of, but very rare to get a title opportunity coming off a loss, for which you can probably thank this guy sitting next to you (interpreter, advisor: Sampson Lewkowicz).

Sincerely, I believe I didn’t win that fight. I had the sensation that I should have done more to win, and I didn’t. (Lewkowicz exclaims to Martinez’ admission, “Even I am in shock!”) But I appreciate the great work by my advisor to get me the shot, and now justice has been done. It would be very interesting if you asked the same question to Paul Williams and see if he answers it sincerely. Maybe he feels the same way. That night both of us received a lot of punishment. Both of feel like we lost something in the ring, but we still gained something too.

The only other loss in your career was when you were very young and inexperienced against Antonio Margarito. He has now moved up to super welterweight. That presents an opportunity for redemption. Has that crossed your mind?

I need that fight and I need it badly. I need to try again and win the fight. Today, it would be an excellent event, a great fight. I have no doubt that I will beat him by KO! Today will be a big difference from what is was in 2000. Back the, he was much more superior than me. He was a better boxer, more complete. Justice was done in 2000.

If you stay at middleweight, have you considered trying to unify the other belts with WBA champion Felix Sturm or IBF champion Sebastian Sylvester? Do you know much about them, are they interesting to you, or does their lack of a fan base in the US make that difficult?

They are doing a great job in Europe, but nobody knows them in the United States. It’s unfortunate that they can’t really come here to the U.S. and demonstrate that they are worthy world champions. That way I could confront them. It is my dream to be the champion of every organization. (Lewkowicz adds, “Which I can tell you is impossible!)

Speaking of that, after the Pavlik fight, you had two of the four belts. How frustrating was it to have the WBO belt taken away due to politics, before you had a chance to decide which weight class you’ll fight in?

It was an honor to be WBO champion and I feel very bad not to have it because I earned it in the ring. I will wait for more opportunities and I can win it again.

How long have you been with your trainer Gabriel Sarmiento?

Eight and a half years. We are made for each other. Each of us is half of a whole. That is what has made me a world champion today.

Will you fight before the end of 2010 or is it too early to tell?

Yes, definitely!

OK, Sergio, I’ve been practicing my Spanish for this last question:
La ultima pregunta, cual es so equipo favorito? (The last question, which is your favorite team?)

(before the question could be completed…) Argentina!

En la Copa Del Mundo? (In the World Cup?)

(Laughter breaks out) Argentina, Spain. Spain is very strong. But definitely Argentina!

What about Uruguay, the country of your adviser? Or the USA, your new home?

OK, Uruguay maybe! USA also. The USA is a young team, but they have the mentality of a winner.

Sergio, Sampson, thank you very much and enjoy the rest of your weekend here in Canastota!

Thank you!

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