- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Former middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez, who has been relaxing in Spain, has made his decision: He will fight on.
Martinez has spent the past few weeks contemplating retirement after Miguel Cotto knocked him down four times -- including three times in the first round -- and stopped him in the 10th round to take the 160-pound championship on June 7 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
But on Saturday, the 39-year-old Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KOs), of Argentina, announced he would continue to fight with the aim of reclaiming a world title.
Martinez met with longtime adviser Sampson Lewkowicz in recent days and told him of the decision.
"Miguel De Pablos (Martinez's business manager) and I met with Sergio at his home in Madrid and he says he is 100 percent healthy and ready to do what it takes to return to the very top of boxing," Lewkowicz said. "Against Cotto, Sergio was badly hurt in the opening round from the first left hook that landed. After that, he remembers only pieces and had very little control of his body and especially his legs.
"He fought entirely on instinct. It was the worst night of his entire career and he is coming back to prove he is a superstar fighter who just had a bad night."
Before Martinez, who was heavily favored to defeat Cotto, returns, he will undergo a battery of medical tests in New York to make sure he is healthy enough to continue.
Martinez suffered a concussion against Cotto and has battled hand and knee injuries in recent years, including having two surgeries on the right knee that he hurt in both of the previous bouts prior to facing Cotto -- wins against Martin Murray and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Martinez has insisted that his knee was not an issue against Cotto.
Lou DiBella, Martinez's promoter, said Martinez's return would come no earlier than December but more likely in early 2015 against a solid opponent. Martinez has one fight remaining on his contract with HBO, which did not cancel the deal in the wake of the loss to Cotto even though the network had the right to.
"The first thing we want to do is make sure he sees a good orthopedist and then we'll see, but Sergio is a big boy," DiBella said. "He's self aware. He has the right to decide when he continues and when he gets out. I think the next fight will not be a huge name but somebody credible enough to determine if he still has it in the tank. If he can perform well in the next fight then we'll go from there.
"But he will not allow himself to come back against a stooge. At the same time he's not going to come back against King Kong. The idea is for him to face a real, legitimate professional, a top-15 kind of fighter and then go from there. If he's OK, he wants one more opportunity to win a title. He's not coming back for a five-year campaign. If he elected to call it a day, he'd have my blessings and I'd throw him a party. The fact that he's elected to continue was his decision, and we'll handle it like professionals."
Martinez, a former junior middleweight titlist, won the middleweight championship by bloody unanimous decision against Kelly Pavlik in 2010, when Martinez was the consensus fighter of the year. Martinez made six successful defenses, winning four by knockout, before the one-sided loss to Cotto, who became the first Puerto Rican boxer to win world titles in four weight divisions.
"We're going to put him in with someone who can get him in line for a title shot and see what he can do," DiBella said. "If he doesn't look to be the same fighter anymore, I will be the first to admit it, but he deserves the chance to prove it was just an off-night (against Cotto) in an otherwise stellar career."
5dMalik Smith, ESPN Stats & Information