NEW YORK — Sergio Martinez’s quest to prevent domestic violence began a few hours after he had earned his first world title.
Not long after vanquishing Kelly Pavlik by unanimous decision for the undisputed middleweight title on April 17 of 2010, Martinez learned that former WBC lightweight titleholder Edwin Valero had stabbed and killed his wife.
A day later, Valero would also take his own life.
That’s when Martinez made the decision to devote his career and his own life toward ending domestic violence. Now, as a supporter of battered women’s issues, Martinez often visits women’s shelters and domestic violence centers, meeting and supporting the victims there.
“The problem is that someone needs to help all of these women. On April 17, 2010, the champion, Edwin Valero, killed his wife. That motivated me to [use boxing as a platform] to help battered women,” said Martinez.
“That was also near the same night that I won the fight against Kelly Pavlik. Since that day, I decided to devote myself to ending domestic violence agianst women. That’s the real truth. It’s not to copy cat anyone.”
Martinez has even gone as publicly denouncing words that were attributed to WBC President Jose Sulaiman by boxing writer Ronnie Nathanielsz of The Manila Standard, in which the WBC president appeared to dismiss the physical abuse of women by their male counterparts in general, and, the case of WBC welterweight titleholder Floyd Mayweather Jr., in particular.
Martinez has even taken on the issue of bullying, having counseled developing female boxer, Monique McClain, a 14-year-old from Middletown, Conn., who recently returned to school thanks to Martinez’s encouragement after having quit as a result of abuse taken from her peers.
“He’s stepped in at a point in my life where I didn’t feel like I really had anyone. He supported me the whole way. Now I’m back in school, and he’s still helping me through it,” said McClain, who met Martinez through her boxing coach, John Callas, a professional referee.
“I started boxing before the bullying happened, and then I started to take it more seriously. It has been about a year and a half since the bullying started, and I’m back in school at Thomas Edison in Meridan, Conn. I was out of school for over two months because of the harrassment. The boxing has given me a second family, and Sergio has helped me to have a better outlook on life.”
McClain, her mother and her grandmother were on hand during Thursday’s press conference at Madison Square Garden, where Martinez (48-2-2, 27 knockouts) will defend his RING middleweight belt opposite THE RING’s No. 3-rated middleweight Mathew Macklin (28-3, 19 KOs) in an HBO-televised bout on Saturday night.
Martinez is coming off an 11th-round knockout of London’s Darren Barker (23-1, 14 KOs) last October during which he received significant punishment from the challenger.
After defeating Pavlik, Martinez scored a second-round knockout of Paul Williams in November of that year in a rematch of their 2009 fight that Williams won by a controversial majority decision, but was then then forced to give up his WBC belt for fighting Sergei Dzinziruk in March on HBO, a bout Martinez won by an eight-round KO.
Having turned 37 years old last month, Martinez expressed his thoughts during a round table with members of the media.
Among the subjects Martinez addressed were his age, Macklin, his status among the sport’s best fighters, pound-for-pound, as well as the potential for bouts coming to fruition opposite such fighters as WBC welterweight titleholder Floyd Mayweather Jr., WBO welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao, WBA junior middleweight beltholder Miguel Cotto and WBC middleweight counter part Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
“The two best fighters in the world, whatever order you want to put them in, are Floyd Mayweather and Sergio Martinez,” said Martinez’s promoter, Lou DiBella. “He is the real champion. He is the lineal champion. He’s the only middleweight champion of the world.”
On whether or not he wants to face Chavez Jr.:
“At this moment, it happens to be Chavez Jr. It’s up to Chavez Jr., Chavez Sr. and Bob Arum. Sometimes in boxing, you never know. So let’s wait until Monday. W, and Chavez Jr.”
On the notion that he and Mayweather are the top two fighters, pound-for-pound:
“That is 100 percent true. I have no doubt that they have it right. I wish that I could fight Mayweather, but I’m not sure that it’s going to happen.”
On whom he would rather fight — Pacquiao or Mayweather:
On the notion that Mayweather said that he might fight him:
“I know that the reason that he said that he would fight Sergio Martinez is that he was asked, and that means that it didn’t come from his own will.”
On whether he is encouraged by the fact that Mayweather is rising in weight to challenge for Cotto’s title on May 5:
“That’s a positive for me. In one part of my heart, I’m very happy that Mayweather is moving up to 154. To me, that’s encouraging.”
On the difference between Barker and Macklin, and his having fought with an injured left elbow against Macklin:
On his belief Macklin’s style favors him:
On Macklin’s assertion that Martinez will show his age in the fight:
Photo by Craig Bennett, Goosen-Tutor Promotions
Photo by Emily Harney, Fightwireimages
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org