Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Having turned his back on the WBC in a December, 2011 press conference that he organised himself, lineal middleweight champion and the incumbent of The Ring magazine’s prestigious championship – Sergio Martinez – now finds himself back in a familiar position as the Council have mandated that should he and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr both triumph in their next respective bouts then they must box later in the year. Chavez Jr’s promoter, though, has other ideas…
It is not the first time that Maravilla has been made the mandatory challenger to the title Chavez Jr possesses as their paths were supposed to cross in the first quarter of this current calendar year, however, instead, the WBC allowed Chavez Jr to take on Marco Antonio Rubio, the champion’s second successive voluntary defence having also taken on – and defeated – Peter Manfredo Jr.
The WBC’s allowance of the match-up disgusted Martinez: “I’m not planning to defend the WBC Diamond belt anymore. The only title I’m going to defend from now on is the title I won after beating Kelly Pavlik; The Ring magazine title. I won’t ever represent the WBC ever again until [they] make the fight they ordered at the WBC convention [versus Chavez Jr].
“They won’t honour their own agreement. I hate the [cowardice] that Chavez Jr displays as well as his coach Freddie Roach and promoter Bob Arum for avoiding me every day. I never thought a world champion could avoid someone in this way.”
In 2010, Martinez – a then WBC champion – elected to take on an opponent selected by HBO – Serhiy Dzinziruk – as they did not regard the mandatory fighter, Sebastian Zbik, to be pay-per-view worthy. Martinez accepted the fight but was consequently stripped of the belt.
The irony of the situation was that, in the summer, Zbik and Chavez Jr fought for the vacant championship… it was even broadcast by HBO. In an attempt to appease Chavez Jr, the WBC ‘promoted’ him to be their ‘Champion Emeritus’, an honour usually bestowed upon a fighter entering retirement.
Since then Martinez has lobbied to get his title back by calling out Chavez Jr and/or by calling on the WBC to honour their agreement. Thus far, it has been to no avail.
A statement recently released by the Council read:
“The WBC unanimously approved that the WBC middleweight champion of the world, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr should defend mandatorily against Sergio Martinez, but leaving open an opportunity for both parties to agree as TV dates are already reserved: Chavez on February 4 [versus Rubio] and Martinez on March 15 [against Matthew Macklin].
“The Board of Governors of the WBC has ruled to accept both [match-ups] according to the rules, but with the indication that the winner and WBC champion after the 4th of February must defend mandatorily against Martinez, if he wins over Mathew Macklin, classified in the past convention by request of Mr. Lou DiBella.”
In-fighter Chavez Jr, who displayed a multi-dimensional boxing style against Manfredo, and fast-paced gunslinger Martinez, are both betting favourites heading into their bouts against Rubio and Macklin, however, despite the promise of a protracted fight between two of the most prominent 160lbers on the planet, it remains a fight that Chavez Jr’s promoter Bob Arum is disinclined to book.
“We have to do what’s best for our fighters,” said Arum, as reported by The Ring. “And for me, if Chavez is successful against Rubio, then the big fight for him – the big, big fight for him – is Miguel Cotto if Cotto is not fighting Manny.”
The main big fight element of a Chavez Jr and Cotto contest is the perpetual pugilistic rivalry between Chavez Jr’s Mexico and Cotto’s Puerto Rico and, if such a fight were to be made first then it would be overlooking the two most obvious match-ups that have long been associated with the undefeated middleweight.
Primarily: a fight with the consensus number one in the division – Martinez and, secondarily, an all Mexico encounter with fellow undefeated champion, Saul Alvarez, the current holder of the WBC title at 154lbs. Cotto, despite his pedigree in the lighter weight classes, should remain an afterthought when pondering opponents for a man who strides into the ring with an extra 20lbs over the middleweight limit. The size differential alone should discount Miguel…