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Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Martinez-Chavez would do big business

By Dan Rafael

Lou DiBella, who promotes lineal middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez, hopes that Top Rank's Bob Arum will seriously consider matching titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. with Martinez in the fall, and if he does, DiBella believes it would be a popular fight on pay-per-view.

"I think we do at least 300,000 buys," DiBella said. "The fans want this fight and the media wants this fight. With Arum, who has the biggest promotional company, and I'm a good promoter, too, and we have East Coast fans and West Coast fans for this fight ... we can do a great promotion. Chavez has that magical name. Sergio, whose popularity is growing, is always in good fights. So is Chavez. Let's do it on pay-per-view and get it done. Let's do a deal and launch a promotion. We can do the fight in Las Vegas or Los Angeles or Texas, and we'll put on a great undercard. Let's go.

"There's no way it can't be a great fight, there's no way. Plus, you have a much bigger man in Chavez -- he weighs, like, 180 pounds on fight night -- and a much younger man [26] going in with a Superman talent in Sergio, but a Superman talent who is smaller and approaching 38. And it's a fight fans want to see. People are sick of these kinds of fights not happening. We can work out the split. We would absolutely give Chavez the edge on the split. We understand that."

I happen to agree with DiBella that it would do significant business. We all know Martinez's next fight isn't going to be against Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr. Forget about that. It also won't be against a top super middleweight such as Andre Ward or Lucian Bute because Martinez has no plans to move up in weight at this point, and I have no problem with that. He's a small middleweight who could more easily fight at junior middleweight than at super middleweight.

So I asked the Fight Freaks who follow me on Twitter whom they would like to see Martinez fight most. I got a ton of responses, so many that I couldn't read them all, but from what I did read, Chavez was the overwhelming choice -- far, far ahead of fighters such as Andy Lee and titlist Gennady Golovkin.

Martinez knocked out top contender Matthew Macklin in the 11th round last Saturday night in New York and, like he did before the fight, again called out Chavez, who owes Martinez a mandatory defense, though the WBC has shamefully not forced the issue.

If Chavez can work out a deal with Top Rank and co-promoter Fernando Beltran, he is ticketed for a June 16 HBO fight at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, before a potential fight with Martinez. Chavez's original June opponent, England's Martin Murray, dropped out Tuesday because of a visa problem related to his past prison terms. To replace Murray, Top Rank wants to have junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan, whom it also promotes and who fought on Chavez's Feb. 4 undercard in San Antonio, move up in weight to challenge Chavez.
Martirosyan, who has yearned for a major fight, said that Top Rank has been in touch with his team and that he wants the fight, which I'm told has been approved by HBO if Top Rank can put it together.

"Yes, they talked to my manager," Martirosyan told me Tuesday. "I would love to fight Chavez, and after I beat him, I will fight anyone the fans want me to fight. They told my manager it's a possibility that I would fight Chavez. Yes, I'm willing to go to 160."

One interesting aspect of that potential fight: Freddie Roach trains both of them. I would imagine Roach would stick with Chavez, who is way above Martirosyan on the pecking order of fighters he trains, along with Pacquiao and Amir Khan.

Should Chavez beat whomever he fights in June, I really hope we see him step up and face Martinez, who was stripped of (and wants back) the alphabet belt Chavez now holds.

Billy Keane, Chavez's manager, sounded willing to seriously look at the fight when we talked about it the other night.

Said Keane: "Julio really wants the Martinez fight [after the June fight]. He wants to see if we can get it done. I believe Julio. He's watched [Martinez opponents] Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin -- fighters that are nowhere as big and strong as Julio -- put pressure on Martinez, and he doesn't like pressure. So if the money is right, I am very, very happy to make that fight."

And we would all be very, very happy to pay to watch it.