Sergio Martinez’s Dilemma
By John Gibson: Since his KO of Paul Williams in 2010, current WBC Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (51-2-2) has had an illustrious career. But as of late, Martinez appears to be getting old.
While he schooled Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-1-1) in September 2012, he took big punishment in the last round, suffering a knee injury, which required surgery. Then in April, he struggled to beat Martin Murray (25-1-1) with many believing Murray won. This fight too required Martinez to get knee surgery.
I believe it was after his fight with Matthew Macklin that Martinez told HBO something along the lines of “I know people think I’m old, but I’m still feeling young.” Martinez is 38 now, old for a boxer, especially one who takes as many risks in the ring as he does. Like Bernard Hopkins, who recently won a world title at 48 years of age, Martinez entered boxing relatively late in life at age 22. This slow start has allowed Martinez to fight so well even into his late thirties, but its also made him less technical and easier to hit.
With time against him, its fair that he wants to get in a few more big fights before he retires. But if he doesn’t let his body recover properly between fights, he’ll lose. At the same time, he doesn’t want to wait so long that he’s fighting dangerous guys as a 40 year old.
Martinez will need a tune-up fight when he enters the ring again in early 2014. But he will be almost 39 by then and given that he suffered injuries in his last two fights, it wouldn’t surprise me if he got hurt in this fight, regardless of whether or not he wins.
Then it is expected that he takes on Middleweight ace Gennady Golovkin (27-0) aka GGG in late 2014. I see that as a tough fight for obvious reasons. GGG is young, powerful, and boxes well. If Martinez fights him, it will be an uphill battle.
It seems that Martinez wants to please his fans, considering he fought Murray without properly letting his knee recover. Call it his excuse if you want, but Martinez probably felt he had to. It was his homecoming fight after all and I don’t think he wanted to postpone it after all the trouble it took to set up in Argentina.
With the fans and age pressuring him, Martinez will likely rush to take the Golovkin fight or a rematch with Chavez by late 2014. If he waits until 2015, he’ll be 40. Imagine a 40 year old against Golovkin or Chavez Jr.
Whether it is punishment from bigger, stronger opponents or father time, Martinez’ future as a boxer won’t be pretty. Ideally, he wants to cash out on a fight with Mayweather. Call me crazy, but I’m optimistic about that fight happening. At least if Mayweather called all the shots. To Mayweather, Martinez is marketable, old, and desperate. But Martinez still owes HBO two more fights. Two fights that could end Martinez’ chance of a Mayweather fight.
Personally, I hope Martinez stays active in his time off and trains to take less risks and box better in the ring. If he comes back in 2014 slicker, harder to hit, and more technical, he might stay relevant longer than we think.