Michael Rosenthal

Sergio Martinez-Peter Manfredo in July?

Promoter Lou DiBella has a lot of options when it comes to his sizzling-hot fighter Sergio Martinez.

Alfredo Angulo? Perhaps in the fall in Mexico. Felix Sturm? Also a possibility for the fall. James Kirkland? That could happen next year if Kirkland continues to develop as an attraction and remains on the straight and narrow.

For now, after five highly demanding matchups in a row over two years, DiBella has another idea: Peter Manfredo, who DiBella also promotes.

DiBella is working on a fight between Martinez and the former participant in the Contender reality series in July at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., Manfredo’s hometown. Martinez has an HBO date that month.

Manfredo works at the arena as a union employee, one storyline that DiBella believes will contribute to a successful promotion.

“I want to go someplace where we’ll do a big crowd,” DiBella told RingTV.com. “I think if we fight Manfredo and go to Providence, we’ll do fourteen, fifteen thousand at the Dunink’ Donuts Center. I see Manfredo as a kind of a Rocky story. Peter has paid his dues. He’s never been blown out except against (Joe) Calzaghe. And he’s much better at 160 than 168.

“I don’t think he’ll make for a bad fight. He’ll come right at Sergio and try hard. And he’s an employee at the arena. To have him fight there is a great story. I think it could be a great promotion.”

Manfredo apparently loves the idea.

“He’s dying for it,” DiBella said. “He told me he wants a shot at the best guy to see what he can do before he gets out.”

Martinez is definitely the best guy.

The Argentine now has three consecutive victories over elite opponents. He outpointed Kelly Pavlik to win the middleweight championship, stopped Paul Williams with one punch in the second round and stopped Sergei Dzinziruk in eight last Saturday.

DiBella has never been more excited about one of his fighters.

“Roy Jones came up to be after the (Dzinziruk) fight and said he hasn’t seen anyone do the physical things Sergio is doing since Roy himself was in his prime,” DiBella said. “I think that’s true. Roy had gifts to amazing things. So does Sergio.

“He outlanded Dzinziruk 2-1 in jabs with his hands at his side the whole fight. He knocked him down five times when he’d never been down as an amateur or a pro.”

Could he maintain the moment against Manfredo?

Some would question the choice of Manfredo as an opponent for Martinez even though he has won six consecutive fights since he was stopped by Sakio Bika in 2008, including a one-sided decision over capable Daniel Edouard in his most-recent fight.

If any fighter deserves a break from high-intensity challenges, though, it’s Martinez. After all, who faces a gauntlet like Kermit Cintron-Williams-Pavlik-Williams-Dzinziruk these days? No one.

Martinez would probably beat Manfredo in an entertaining fight and then get back to the business of facing an opponent at the next level.

And while time is of the essence for a 36-year-old fighter, as Martinez is, DiBella said there is no great sense of urgency in his fighter’s case because of his late start in boxing and other factors.

Martinez could have at least a half dozen more fights at which he would be at his best.

“He’s never been beaten up in his life,” DiBella said. “And he didn’t start getting hit until he was 21. He’s not an ordinary 36-year-old guy. He probably has two, three years left at his prime. Age is not a big factor with him.”

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