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One of them is Sergio. The other goes by Sergei, although he lately prefers Serhyi. But on Saturday, there will be one Serge too many in the ring at Mohegan Sun, where only one can earn the right to be called undisputed middleweight champion of the world. Below, Sergio Martinez discusses his upcoming defense of the title and his undefeated rival, Sergei Dzinziruk (HBO, 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT).
What has training been like for this fight?
As always, I trained in Oxnard [Calif.], because here is where I have my entire team and the places where I like to run in the morning. We worked with Gaby Sarmiento, his brother Pablo and with Cecilio Flores -- that's my team. This [past] week I sparred with Daniel Santos, Austin Trout and Victor Cayo -- that's the great group of guys I worked with. The whole training experience was excellent. We finished this past Sunday with two days of hard work, and it has been the best training camp in my career so far, because I am physically impeccable and my experience is playing in my favor. For this fight, I believe I will be in my best physical and mental shape ever.
What will be the most difficult aspect of Dzinziruk's style?
We haven't sat down with my trainer yet to talk about the fight plan, but I believe he is a very calculating fighter. He is exactly the opposite of guys like Paul Williams or Kelly Pavlik. They are aggressive fighters, and Dzinziruk is a difficult fighter because he calculates his aggression quite well and he is a good counterpuncher, so I will have to be careful not to fall in his trap and go after him. I have to do the opposite. I have a lot of work ahead of me as far as strategy goes.
What can Dzinziruk do that no other fighter has done before? What sort of new challenge does he present?
He is the classic European boxer, and since I lived in Europe for so long and fought for so many years there -- well, I mean, I won't go as far as saying that I dominate every style, but I believe he is the typical German fighter who would be happy to win every round 1-0. If he lands just one punch, he is happy with that. What I have to do is try to overcome that, to try to beat him with my changes in rhythm and speed.
|Sergio Martinez expects something of a chess match against Sergei Dzinziruk in the early rounds, but expects to attack late and win convincingly.|
How do you deal with the pressure of being the favorite and suddenly one of the most watched champions in boxing right now, and living up to your newfound fame?
The truth is that I don't feel the pressure. I never feel that. On the contrary, I believe it is a motivation. Today, I am living in the United States and I am being considered the No. 3 pound-for-pound, and this is really big for me. But it only motivates me to push harder to reach No. 1 as soon as possible. I wish for 2011 to be the year I achieve that.
What would it take for you to get in the ring with [Manny] Pacquiao or [Floyd] Mayweather? How necessary do you think they are to establish your legacy?
All it would take is for them to sign the fight with me, and then we could fight. What is missing is probably the most difficult part, which is coming to some sort of agreement in the negotiations.
Do you think you will have to clean up the division against [Dmitry] Pirog, [Felix] Sturm and others before you get a chance?
Well, I am already in the top three pound-for-pound, and I am being seen as one of the best in the world. I can only look up, and when I do that, all I see is Mayweather and Pacquiao. I can't look back. I have to look ahead now and make the commitment to fight them and achieve that, to make those fights happen.
Given your age and the precious few fights ahead of you, is it difficult to focus on the fight at hand and not the fights ahead?
I never look beyond my next fight. To me, life ends on March 12, because on that day I fight the most important fight of my life. Maybe on March 13, I could sit down and think about what the future holds for me.
How do you envision the fight playing out Saturday night?
I believe this fight is going to take a lot of work, strategically speaking. We will have to be very cautious and not fall into their trap. We have to work the early rounds from the outside and maybe after the fourth or fifth round start charging forward to measure his reactions. And once I get familiar with him, I might start working on some of his mistakes. And if he doesn't make any mistakes, I will have to force him to make them. But I do believe the first four rounds will be very quiet and calculated. In the second half, I will do what I always do, which is to make the fight a constant attack, to leave a mark -- not just win, but win convincingly, too.
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.