Over the last two years Sergio Martinez has consistently been ranked just below Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao in everyone’s pound-for-pound boxing rankings. In that same period of time, despite trying just about everything to get on the ‘mainstream boxing fan’ radar, Martinez has gone largely unnoticed.
With his career currently closer to the finish line than the starting point, you have to figure that Maravilla wants one shot at greatness.
One shot at Mayweather and/or Pacquiao.
Martinez has made his pursuit of both men no secret. Late last year he and his promoter Lou DiBello made numerous concessions to Bob Arum and Co. in hopes of securing a fight with Pacquiao. Initially, he offered to fight the Filipino champion at 154 pounds. When everyone involved rebuffed that offer, Martinez said he’d be willing to go down to 150. By that point, though, Pacquiao and his Top Rank team had tuned the challenger out.
(Note: Martinez saying “I don't know when the last time was that Pacquaio took on one of the best pound-for-pound fighters. Marquez today is not the fighter he was five years ago. I just need one chance, one fight against either one of them (Pacquiao or Mayweather). I think I deserve to be where I am…” probably didn’t help.)
Perhaps realizing that a fight versus Pacquiao simply wouldn’t happen – DiBello has decided to go in a different direction. Following Martinez’s victory over Matthew Macklin this past Saturday night, Martinez’s promoter made this public plea to Mayweather (via Boxing Scene):
"We would fight Floyd at 151. We would fight Floyd at 150 and [Martinez] would have to kill himself to make 150 and Floyd would be favored [to win] at 150. Cotto is a dead man at 154. Cotto is a half-shot.
“He's a great fighter, but he gets hit by everything. He incented Cotto to make a big money fight. It's very smart business. If he wants to handicap Sergio, we'll fight him as low as 150. And we'll give him 80% of the money. Mayweather can have 80% of the money and we'll fight him as low as 150. Let's do the fight, after he beats up Cotto.”
Obviously, those are huge sacrifices in every regard. Martinez hasn’t fought at that low a weight in nearly a decade, and coming into a match with a “handicap” against arguably the best boxer in the world isn’t the wisest of moves for a guy trying to prove his legitimacy. The financial sacrifice is substantial too, clearly. But all things considered a fight against Mayweather would still probably net Martinez his biggest payday to date.
It's clear that this is a guy desperate to prove himself as a top-tier fighter by going up against the No. 1 pound-for-pounder in the world. The many, many concessions are an obvious indicator of that.
The question at this point is: does Martinez deserve a fight against Mayweather (or Pacquiao)?
Regardless of whether you’re a fan or not, it’s hard to dispute the fact that Martinez hasn’t been as great over his last three fights as folks expected him to be heading into those fights. He wasn’t bad, per se, but he took a lot of damage and inflicted surprisingly little of it in the early rounds of each match. Ultimately his stamina and skill shined through at the end in each bout (all three ended early), but to say his top three status is debatable probably isn’t a huge stretch.
Proponents of him fighting Mayweather or Pacquiao could obviously argue that neither of the top two pound-for-pounders in the world are currently fighting anyone in Martinez’s category anyway. That even if he’s not as good as good as advertised, he’s still a noticeably more legitimate challenger than anyone these two have faced in years. And they wouldn’t be wrong.
But it still feels like Martinez doesn’t deserve this match as badly now as he did after the Paul Williams win. He should’ve been rewarded for his greatness and dominance then. Conversely, he shouldn’t be rewarded for his lackluster showings now.
Of course, in the true spirit of boxing you have to figure that it’ll be specifically his lackluster (all things considered) showings that will probably get him a fight against Mayweather. There is nothing these top dogs love more than thinking they’re facing off versus a big name whose fighting skills are on the decline.
What do you think: does Martinez deserve a shot at Mayweather or Pacquiao after his showings versus Sergiy Dzinziruk, Darren Baker and Maclin? And more importantly, would he have a good chance of beating either guy?