Lem Satterfield

Martinez signs deal to fight Chavez Jr.-Lee winner on Sept. 15

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RING champion Sergio Martinez has signed a contract that is meant to guarantee him a Sept. 15 fight against the winner of a June 16 title bout featuring WBC middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and southpaw Andy Lee, Martinez’s adviser, Sampson Lewkowicz, informed RingTV.com on Wendsday.

Chavez-Lee is slated for the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Tex.

Chavez (45-0-1, 31 knockouts) successfully defended his title by unanimous decision over Marco Antonio Rubio on Feb. 4, and will next meet the Detroit-based Lee (28-1, 20 KOs), a winner of his past 13 fights, eight of them by knockout since himself being stopped by Bryan Vera in the seventh round in March of 2008.

Lee avenged his loss to Vera following a 10-round unanimous decision in October, and is coming off last month’s second-round stoppage of Saul Duran. Like Martinez, Lee is promoted by Lou DiBella.

“Sergio Martinez is with me at the Bel Air Hotel in Beverly Hills,” said Lewkowicz, confirming an initial report by BoxingScene.com indicating Martinez’s intentions of forging the deal. “We just signed the deal at 7 p.m., so now, it’s up to everyone else involved.”

Lewkowicz said that in order for the deal to be completed, however, signatures must be obtained by Lee, DiBella, Chavez and his promoter, Top Rank CEO, Bob Arum. Lewkowicz said that WBC President Jose Sulaiman already has provided a signature indicating that the scenario is to move forward.

“Now, the only thing is that I expect that Chavez Jr. and Andy Lee, Lou DiBella and Bob Arum to sign, because Jose Sulaiman and myself already have signed,” said Martinez, whose comments were translated by Lewkowicz.

“There must be six signatures for Chavez Jr. to fight for the title on June 16, or not to fight for the title. If not, then Jose Sulaiman has said that the WBC title will not be on the line on June 16 because they will take the title away.”

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Although he indicated that the three-way deal is binding, WBC Secretary General, Mauricio Sulaiman, Jose’s son, did not clarify whether or not Chavez Jr. would be stripped of his belt if he did not sign to face Martinez prior to fighting Lee.

“The WBC’s position is that there is an agreement between the promotional parites, Top Rank and Lou DiBella, that Chavez fights Lee in June, and that the winner must fight Martinez.,” said Mauricio Sulaiman.

“The agreement is consistent with the rules for the situation that were made at the WBC’s convention, so we have heard that they are all in agreement with this. So the winner of Chavez-Lee has to fight Martinez.”

Is there a threat for the Chavez-Lee winner to be stripped of the belt if the deal does not go through?

“The winner must fight Martinez, and, conversely, Martinez must fight the winner,” said Mauricio Sulaiman. “Whomever does not comply with the ruling will lose their position. The ruling is that both parties must agree to it.”

Arum said he fully intends to go through with the plan, although he won’t likely finalize his side of the deal until he returns from vacation on April 14.

“I’m not disputing any of it. Sergio Martinez can sign whenever he wants to sign. But what I told Lou is that we’re not signing anything now because it’s Holy Week, and Chavez is away in Cancun, and I’m going to Israel,” said Arum, who is Jewish.

“I’ll be back the morning of April 14, in time for the [Brandon] Rios-[Richard] Abril fight and the [Juan Manuel] Marquez-[Sergei] Fedchenko fight. We’ll address it when we get back. But do we have every intention of fighting Sergio Martinez if Chavez beats Andy Lee? Absolutely. But we’re not doing anything until after April 14. There is plenty of time.”

That’s when Arum will resume the promotion of an April 14, split-site, pay per view card during which WBA/WBO lightweight beltholder, Juan Manuel Marquez, will face Ukrainian Sergei Fedchenko (30-1, 13 KOs) for the WBO’s interim junior welterweight belt from New Mexico City Arena in Mexico City, and RING No 1-rated lightweight Brandon Rios will meet Richard Abril from the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas for the vacant WBA lightweight belt.

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A left-hander like Lee, Martinez (48-2-2, 27 KOs) is coming off last month’s 11th-round knockout of Matthew Macklin at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The stoppage was the fourth straight in five consecutive victories by Martinez, who was coming off of an 11th-round knockout of London’s Darren Barker in October.

Martinez won the undisputed middleweight title with a unanimous decision over Kelly Pavlik in April  of 2010 before scoring 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.

Martinez was then forced, however, to give up his WBC belt for fighting Sergei Dzinziruk in March on HBO, a bout Martinez won by an eight-round KO.

Sebastian Zbik  was elevated to the status of WBC beltholder, but was subsequently dethroned by Chavez Jr. via unanimous decision in June. Chavez is coming off a fifth-round stoppage of Peter Manfredo Jr last November.

Chavez-Lee matches two of the sport’s premiere trainers in Chavez’s five-time Trainer of the Year, Freddie Roach, and Lee’s Manny Steward.

Roach also handles WBO welterweight beltholder Manny Paquiao and former IBF/WBA junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan, and Steward has guided the careers of Thomas Hearns and Lennox Lewis, and now THE RING heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko, owner of the IBF, WBC and WBO belts.

 

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank

Photo by Ed Mulholland, Fightwireimages.com

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

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