Lem Satterfield

Will the WBC balk on sanctioning Chavez Jr.-Rubio title bout?


WBC president Jose Sulaiman appears to be holding off for now on his sanctioning of a scheduled HBO-televised  title defense by middleweight beltholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. against Marco Antonio Rubio that is slated for Feb. 4 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Last week, the WBC ordered Chavez (44-0-1, 31 knockouts), of Mexico, to defend his crown opposite RING division champion Sergio Martinez (48-2-2, 27 KOs).

Martinez’s advisor, Sampson Lewkowicz, told RingTV.com on Wednesday that Martinez will announce his disappointment in what he feels has been the organization’s failure to follow through with its mandate during a press conference scheduled for Thursday afternoon in his native Argentina.

“Sergio Martinez will not say tomorrow that he will never fight again for the WBC, because his only goal was to be the middleweight champion for the WBC, and to honor his idol, who was Carlos Monzon. But he wants to get that title back, and he knows that the only way to get that title back is to force the public to demand that Chavez either fight or give up the title. So, Sergio Martinez still is loyal to the WBC, because he wants that to be his history,” said Lewkowicz.

“But tomorrow, he will say that he is not fighting for the WBC, but that he is fighting for THE RING Magazine title, which is the most logical. He’s supposed to fight for the title against Macklin. He’s the best middleweight, and he wants to fight the best. So he will be fighting for THE RING Magazine title on March 17 against whomever that is, most likely, it will be Macklin.”

Sulaiman appeared to support Martinez, however, in an e-mailed statement on Thursday.

“Numerous media outlets have reported that WBC middleweight world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will fight Marco Antonio Rubio on February 4, 2012. The governing WBC rules and regulations require a written formal petition for the sanctioning of any official WBC bout before a formal announcement takes place and ticket sales start,” stated Sulaiman.

“As of this date, the WBC has not received any communication from any promoter concerning a Chavez versus Rubio fight. The WBC therefore does not endorse and disapproves any public announcement or ticket sales suggesting that the WBC has sanctioned the fight, or using the WBC name or trademarks until there is full compliance with the WBC rules and regulations.”

Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum, who promotes Chavez, is on vacation and could not be reached for comment. Top Rank Vice President Carl Moretti declined comment on the situation with Rubio (52-5-1, 45 KOs).

Top Rank media director Lee Samuels said Arum would address the situation during a January 3 press conference at the Alamodome at 11:30 a.m.

Martinez had earned the undisputed middleweight belt with a unanimous decision over Kelly Pavlik in April of last year. He followed that up with a second-round knockout of Paul Williams in November, a rematch of their 2009 fight that Williams won by a controversial majority decision.

Martinez was forced to give up his WBC belt for fighting Sergei Dzinziruk in March on HBO, a fight Martinez won by an eight-round KO. The WBC then elevated Sebastian Zbik to the status of full champion and mandated that Zbik face Chavez, who dethroned him by a unanimous decision in June.

Martinez is coming off an 11th-round knockout of Darren Barker in October, and Chavez, off last month’s fifth-round stoppage of Peter Manfredo Jr.

In the absence of a bout against Chavez, Martinez is scheduled to face RING No. 3-rated middleweight Matthew Macklin (28-3, 19 KOs) on March 17 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

It is unclear whether or not Martinez’s move will include a refusal to pay the WBC’s sanctioning fee for what is being called it’s “Diamond” belt.


Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lemuel.satterfield@gmail.com




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