Lem Satterfield

Martinez dumps WBC belt, may leave HBO for Showtime

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THE RING middleweight champion Sergio Martinez renounced his WBC “Diamond” belt, publicly denounced comments attributed to WBC president Jose Sulaiman that he believes are insensitive to women, and said that he may pursue Showtime over HBO, which he feels has mistreated him, at a press conference on Thursday in his native Argentina.

Martinez (48-2-2, 27 knockouts), rated No. 3 in THE RING’s pound for pound, also said that he would entertain rising to 168 pounds to face THE RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward, who is contracted to Showtime.

Saying that he is a “boxer for the WBC,” and, “not a hostage,” Martinez said that he must “step aside,” for “my dignity, for my pride and for my manhood.”

“For Sergio to stand up in this way, the way that he did it, that took big balls, because he’s playing with his future,” said Martinez’s advisor, Sampson Lewkowicz.

“Sergio is fighting just like he does in the ring. He’s fighting for his life, just like a warrior, and the boxing world should salute him for that as a great champion, inside and outside of the ring. We’ll sit down and talk about all of this probably in the beginning of January.”

During the press conference, which he organized, Martinez expressed disappointment in what he feels is the WBC’s failure to follow through with last week’s mandate that WBC middleweight beltholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. face him in his next bout.

Top Rank Inc., the promoter of Chavez, announced on Wednesday that the popular 25-year-old fighter will defend his belt against Marco Antonio Rubio on HBO on Feb. 4 at Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

“They’re are not honoring their own decision,” said Martinez, who is coming off an 11th-round knockout of Darren Barker in October while Chavez scored fifth-round stoppage of Peter Manfredo Jr. last month.

“I won’t ever represent the WBC again until they make the fight that is obligatory, the fight which was voted on by unanimous decision to happen at the WBC’s convention.”

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

Martinez said that the WBC’s “Diamond” belt will not be on the line against Macklin, but it is unclear whether or not that means he will not be paying a sanctioning fee.

“I’m not planning on defending the WBC Diamond belt anymore,” said Martinez, who won the undisputed middleweight title with a unanimous decision over Kelly Pavlik in April of last year. “The only title that I’m going to defend from now on is the one that I conquered by defeating Kelly Pavlik, which is the Ring magazine title.”

In a new development, Sulaiman appears to be holding off for now on his sanctioning Chavez-Rubio. 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.

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.

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