Note: This story apears in the June 2011 issue of THE RING magazine, which is available now on newstands on in our new digital format.
It’s four o’clock in the morning and the alarm clock awakens Sergio Martinez for another morning run. It takes him away from the same recurring dream, the one in which he’s bending and dipping, hands down by his sides, as he leans in trying to catch the bouncing Filipino staring back at him with the razor-sharp eyes before an immense throng in Argentina. It’s a dream he’s obsessed with, a moment for which he’s worked his whole career.
It’s the dream of being the best, by facing the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter – Manny Pacquiao. Unfortunately, the dream might never become reality for the middleweight world champion. It’s not that the 36-year-old “Maravilla” doesn’t deserve the chance. It’s just the position Martinez finds himself today—one of the best P-4-P fighters trapped by his own success.
Martinez is empowered once again by yet another scintillating performance. He dispensed of Sergei Dzinziruk rather easily in his second world championship defense, stopping the previously undefeated junior middleweight southpaw in eight rounds at the MGM Grand Foxwoods, in Mashantucket, Conn., knocking “Razor” down five times in the process.
Martinez took a new approach to reach the conclusion of that fight, outjabbing the jabber and turning what many originally feared going in would be a boring tactical display into an exciting, emphatic victory.
But where does Martinez go from here? How does he continue to build his brand on fan-friendly fights in an environment where the world’s best are fighting either shopworn leftovers or not fighting at all?
At the moment, there is such a dearth of talent at 160 that Martinez doesn’t have a marquee fight on the horizon. He wants Pacquiao and he talks about facing Floyd Mayweather Jr., but realistically, it’s very doubtful either fight will happen. He’s much larger than the two, and who’s to say that after he smashed Paul Williams with one of the greatest one-punch knockouts in recent history and dismantled Dzinziruk that either fighters’ promoters would want their guys to get within a Grand Canyon’s distance of him?
Martinez has evolved from poverty-encased beginnings, where he didn’t know the meaning of “dinner,” to million-dollar paydays. Now that he’s arrived, there’s no upward direction in which to go.
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