September 30, 2011
World Middleweight Champion Sergio ‘Maravilla’ Martinez talks: Barker, Pacquiao, and Cotto in an exclusive interview with La Prensa San Diego
By Steve Galindo III
Just like a fine wine, WBC ‘Diamond’ Middleweight champion Sergio Maravilla Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs) just keeps getting better with age. And, while most may see that as a gift, lately it has proved to be quite a curse for the native of Buenos Aires, Argentina. At 36 years old the man known as “Maravilla” (Marvelous) will be facing a virtual unknown this Saturday night when he faces undefeated European fighter Darren Barker (23-0,14 KOs) at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
You may be asking yourself, what is an elite fighter such as Martinez who is perched atop of boxing’s mythical pound-for-pound rankings doing fighting against a guy who’d have trouble getting recognized in his own hometown of Barnet, London?
Since winning 2010 Fighter of the year honors for defeating Kelly Pavlik and obliterating Paul Williams with a single punch, opponents have been hard to come by. The good looking Martinez has probably never been rejected so many times in his life. After being turned down by a plethora of fighters including Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (who holds a title recently held by Martinez) Martinez and his team opted to go with Barker in a match that was reportedly made via Twitter.
While he is seen as one of the most feared fighters inside the ring, outside of it, Martinez remains one of the true gentlemen of the sport. He has been lauded for his work with the anti-bullying “It Gets Better Campaign,” a program that is so near and dear to his heart that he recently befriended a young girl who sought his help after being bullied by her peers. Martinez, who was a victim of bullying himself, has invited the young girl, Monique McClain to escort him out to the ring tomorrow night for his match with Barker. La Prensa San Diego recently had a chance to speak with Martinez while he was making final preparations for his bout with Darren Barker.
La Prensa: How has training camp been for your match against Darren Barker and what kind of match do you envision?
Sergio Martinez: Good. We spent eight intense, tough weeks, and my body responded well. I’m in the best moment physically. I always intend to go for the knockout especially now more than ever so that I can demonstrate the position that I am occupying- the one of being the best pound-for-pound fighter. It’s my obligation to win by knockout on Saturday.
LP: Originally, the plan was for you to face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. this Saturday instead of Darren Barker. How did those plans fall apart? And would you still want to fight Chavez Jr.?
SM: I was made a lot of promises for that fight with Chavez Jr. But it was because of Chavez that the fight never happened. He never responded, and he’s going to keep on doing this because he doesn’t want to fight me, he is scared of me and that’s the truth!
LP: You have worked very hard to achieve everything from titles to your pound-for-pound status. How does it make you feel to see young fighters such as Chavez Jr. and Canelo Alvarez practically handed everything in the sport.
SM: I think that it’s a lack of justice. I think its favoritism and it just means that things are being done very badly. It’s something that I don’t approve of.
LP: What is the more likely scenario for you in the near future: A move up to Super Middleweight to face the likes of Andre Ward and Lucian Bute, or a move down in weight to try to fight either Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
SM: I intend to move down in weight. What I want is to try and move down to 150 pounds so that I can try to get a fight with Pacquiao or Mayweather. I can do it (drop down to 150 pounds) on my part. I’m only waiting for them to want to fight with me. I’ll fight them whenever and wherever, and they’ll have my word on 150 pounds.
LP: Is the winner of the Cotto-Margarito match on your radar?
SM: Cotto? Cotto doesn’t want to fight with me. He’s very scared of me, it’s the truth. Just bring up my name and he’ll make excuses like he did about money. If Cotto’s problem is money than I’ll tell him that I will sign a contract that states that if we fight and he wins then I’ll give him my split of the money. But not even like that will he fight me. He tells too many stories. Margarito wouldn’t have problems fighting with me because he is willing to fight anybody. That’s why I hope that Margarito wins the fight with Cotto so that he can make a fight with me.
LP: If you are not able to secure a fight with any of the big names such as Pacquiao, Mayweather or Cotto then will you look to face the winner of the matchup between Jr. Middleweights Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland?
SM: Yes, that would be a good fight. Angulo is a very strong fighter and hopefully he can win so that he can be on the list, because what I want is a combat, I want a fight!
Noche de ‘Maravilla’: Martinez vs. Barker will be aired live on HBO’s World Championship Boxing tomorrow night beginning at 10:00 PM ET/ 7:00 PM PT.
Questions/Comments: Steve Galindo III can be reached @ firstname.lastname@example.org