Martinez: Chavez a coddled kid

Sergio Martinez continues his chase of the 'overprotected' Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Originally Published: April 26, 2012
By Martín Bater | ESPNdeportes.com

Sergio MartinezAP Photo/Seth WenigSergio Martinez is gunning to regain his titles -- and then coming after Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Among modern boxers, Sergio Martinez is unquestionably the least-known superstar on the planet. Widely recognized as a top-five pound-for-pound fighter who routinely takes on the best competition available, he has taken to destroying all comers, most famously pummeling Paul Williams and Kelly Pavlik, and most recently picking apart Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin in 11th-round stoppages.

But Martinez, a 37-year-old late bloomer from Argentina, still lacks a certain mainstream cachet in the United States (and elsewhere around the world). And popularity aside, he remains unsatisfied after having been stripped of his middleweight titles on a technicality and thus far having been denied a challenge of the man who holds the belt he seems most intent on recovering: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Martinez recently visited ESPN's Bristol, Conn., campus and offered some candid thoughts on Chavez, modern boxing matchmaking, the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-versus-Manny Pacquiao debate and his own future.

Let's talk about your present and future in boxing, more specifically about a potential Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight. Do you think it will happen in September? If it doesn't, what would be the main reason for that?
Chavez Jr. already has the contract available. I don't know if he has it in his hands, in his house or with his promoter, but he definitely has the contract that I already signed. I have been waiting to fight him for a long time. He has a world title that I won in the ring and belongs to me, but that I let go of for various reasons. Oh well, I consider this a fight that I deserve. We will fight on Sept. 15 if they keep their word. … Not like during the past year when nobody respected anything.

I have repeatedly said that he is scared, because yes, he is scared. He is afraid I'm gonna kick his ass, to be honest with you. I am gonna give him the butt-whupping of his life. He knows it, I know it, his father knows it, his promoter knows it, his coach knows it, everybody knows it. I am ready, motivated and more eager than ever. If it hasn't happened already, it's because [he is scared]. Everybody in his corner is aware of what is going to happen if he fights me. I'm not saying it will be an easy fight, but I am going to hit him from beginning to end, until he hits the ground or the ref stops the fight.

How do you think the fight will unfold? Is there a specific round in which you think you can knock him out?
It will be a long, drawn-out fight. He is young, very strong and he will be much heavier than I am. That will allow him to absorb more punches, but it is also a double-edged sword. He will be able to absorb lots of hits -- I hope there will be no low blows -- but it will be a long fight of 10 or 11 rounds.

How might the weight disparity affect the fight? Could your speed counter his strength?
Exactly. Speed and reaction time. He won't feel my punches as much as I feel his, but from my point of view, I would always rather be faster. If he wants to be heavier and stronger, that's fine by me. He will be able to absorb punches, nothing more. It won't be an advantage for him. I hope he thinks it's an advantage. I will give my all to knock him out.

Are you concerned that Andy Lee, Chavez's next opponent, might win and deny you the fight you crave so much?
I have been saying that I want to recover the middleweight title with or without Chavez as my opponent. I want it to be Chavez, I want him to retain the belt because I want to beat him in the ring to show him what a true champion, a true man, is in the ring. Not a spoiled kid, a champion.

Spoiled. Strong words.
Yes, but he is, he truly is. I can't say otherwise. He is an overprotected kid.

Do you think he is a byproduct of his father's fame and not much else?
He is the "Son of the Legend." That says it all. I, Sergio Martinez, couldn't possibly live with my father's nickname. He should forge his own path, but he is called the "Son of the Legend" instead. Poor guy. Well, if he enjoys it, good for him. Perfect. I wouldn't live that way.

If you had to write a letter to convince Chavez to fight you, what would it say?
First and foremost, that the fight would enhance his credibility. Not his credibility for the rest of the world, but for his own Mexican countrymen. Credibility. Nobody believes in him in Mexico, nobody. They say, "Well, Chavez is the champion, but Martinez is the best." Second, he should remember that the all-time great middleweight champions never dodged fighting anybody. Now Chavez is dodging even the optional opponents. Not just the mandatory ones, but the optional ones, too.

Is that something that has become a trend now, dodging optional opponents to fight?
Unfortunately, the promoters are to blame for that. Top Rank is the most guilty party. They planted a tree, and it came out crooked. One sees today's boxers and fights, and it's ridiculous. Some of Chavez's fights were ridiculous. OK, he fought Marco Antonio Rubio, but not counting him, what top-20 fighter did he face? No one. And he is the champion. That's a joke and an affront to boxing fans everywhere, to the paying customer.

[+] EnlargeSergio Martinez
AP Photo/Gregory PayanSergio Martinez described his experience outslugging Matthew Macklin at New York's Madison Square Garden on March 17 as "simply unreal, spectacular."

How was it fighting at Madison Square Garden against Macklin? It was the biggest fight of my life. I mean, Madison Square Garden. What an achievement. What's left after that? Winning in Vegas? There are few things better than that in life. I felt an unforgettable surge of adrenaline that I had never experienced before, and when I saw the crowd, it was simply unreal, spectacular.

How many fights would you like to have before your career is over?
I don't know. Five, six, seven. Maybe I'll fight five more times, and my mom gets mad because I promised I would retire before that point, you know? The future is a mystery.

When did you tell your mom you would retire?
I told her I would retire by now, around the age of 37, but she understands things have changed and that I need to continue a while longer. She understands -- at least I hope she does.

Who would you like to fight before your career is over?
The main guy is [Floyd] Mayweather. The rest are a matter of circumstance, nothing more.

Why Mayweather?
Because he is the best and most talented boxer in the world.

Better than Pacquiao?
Light years better. There is no comparison. Mayweather is a thousand times more talented than Pacquiao.

Then why do people seem to think Mayweather is afraid of Pacquiao and not the other way around?
There are so many deals nowadays, so many things I don't like about this sport that used to be called boxing and is now a business. That's why they don't face each other. I don't think one fears the other; boxers aren't scared of fighting anyone -- even though Chavez is giving me the runaround. OK, Chavez is [scared], but the rest aren't.

How do you see Mayweather's and Pacquiao's next fights playing out?
Both of them have tough but winnable matchups. Pacquiao's story is very weird. How long has it been since he fought someone on the pound-forpound list? Look at what happened when he fought Marquez. Even though he beat [Oscar] De La Hoya, who was maybe the last great opponent he fought, De La Hoya was far from his prime, promoting things left and right. [Pacquiao] squeezed [Antonio] Margarito, made [Miguel] Cotto lose weight, too. It's always the same, always a business. Pacquiao is a lie. He isn't the best pound-for-pound fighter, he shouldn't even be among the best three. Mayweather is the best, and the rest of us fight for second.

Then why is everyone so fascinated with Pacquiao?
Because he has an excellent marketing team. Nowadays, you can mold a boxer out of nothing. Chavez Jr. is living proof of that.

What can fans expect from you between now and after a potential Chavez fight?
A better, more complete boxer who will be more experienced and have one more world championship belt in his power.

Martín Bater is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.