Lem Satterfield

Martinez says he’s going after WBC belt held by Chavez after Barker fight


Should he get beyond an Oct. 1 bout with England's Darren Barker, Sergio Martinez, the holder of the RING middleweight title who was recently stripped of the WBC belt he won from Kelly Pavlik, told

RingTV.com that he’s confident he will get a shot at regaining the WBC strap either in December or March of 2012.

In January, Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs) was stripped of the green belt for facing WBO junior middleweight beltholder Sergei Dzinziruk (37-1, 23 KOs), who he stopped in eight rounds in March, instead of WBC mandatory challenger Sebastian Zbik (30-1, 10 KOs) of Germany. (Editor’s Note: HBO, which televised the Martinez-Dzinziruk fight, would not sign off on Zbik as a “suitable” opponent for the talented 36-year-old southpaw,)

 Zbik was then given the title and mandated to face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (43-0-1, 30 KOs), to whom Zbik lost by majority decision on June 4.

Being allowed at least one voluntary defense, Chavez is reportedly deciding between Japan's Nobuhiro Ishida (23-6-2, eight KOs), Texas' David Medina (23-2, 11 KOs) and Michigan's Ronald Hearns (26-2, 20 KOs) for a September 24 defense.

If Chavez is successful in the fall, his promoter, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, said that Chavez will make a Nov. 19 defense against Peter Manfredo Jr. (37-6, 20 KOs), a winner of six straight bouts, including four by knockout.

But that's where Martinez’s adviser Sampson Lewkowicz disagrees, saying that WBC secretary general, Mauricio Sulaiman, and his father, organization president Jose Sulaiman, have said that Chavez will be stripped of the belt if he does not face Martinez.

"We have been told by Mauricio Sulaiman and Jose Sulaiman that Sergio will absolutely get a shot at the title against Chavez or face the next available contender for the title," said Lewkowicz, during a phone call from Wednesday's New York press conference promoting Martinez-Barker. "We plan on fighting for the title by December or March, and we have no doubt that that will happen."

But first, Martinez must get beyond the 29-year-old Barker (23-0, 14 KOs), who goes by the nickname, "Dazzling."

Martinez compared Barker favorably to Richard Williams and Andrian Stone, two English-born fighters he faced earlier in his career.

In two bouts with Williams, Martinez won by 12-round unanimous decision and ninth-round knockout, respectively, in January of 2003 and April of 2004. Martinez stopped Stone in the 12th round in October of 2003.

"Those were two, tough fights, and Barker could be the same. He is the European champion, and he's undefeated, so that speaks well of him," said Martinez. "But I definitely plan on going for the knockout, and I expect to get it."

The Argentina-born Martinez dethroned Pavlik (37-2, 32 KOs) for THE RING and WBC titles in April of 2010, and followed that up with November's second-round stoppage of Paul Williams (40-2, 27 KOs) that avenged a majority decision loss from December of 2009.

   Lewkowicz dismissed the possibility of a third bout with Williams, who, on July 9, was the recipient of a dubious majority decision over Erislandy Lara (15-1-1, 10 KOs) that most ringsiders thought Williams lost.

"I don't see us fighting Williams again," said Lewkowicz. "Not after watching his last performance."

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