Monday, November 12, 2012
Updated: November 14, 9:20 PM ET
Sergio Martinez undergoes surgery
By Dan Rafael
Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, who has not fought in his native Argentina since 2002 when he was an unknown, is making plans to defend the world title in a homecoming fight on April 27 before a possible rematch with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. next fall.
"The most important thing he wants to do is fight for his people in his country," Sampson Lewkowicz, Martinez's adviser, told ESPN on Monday. "We need to comply with that wish. He deserves to fight at home in front of his own people. Always he was the visitor. It's time to be the hometown fighter."
The fight, Martinez's encore to his decision victory against Chavez on Sept. 15 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas in one of the year's biggest fights, would headline an HBO "World Championship Boxing" broadcast. HBO has televised fights from around the world during its 39 years of boxing coverage but it has never done a fight from South America.
Lewkowicz said the specific venue and opponent are not determined, but they have a short list for both.
"We have four on the short list," Lewkowicz said of the possible opponents.
The leading candidate is England's Martin Murray (24-0-1, 10 KOs), whose draw came in a world title bout against then-middleweight titleholder Felix Sturm in December 2011. Murray would have to win a fight he has scheduled to remain in contention. He is slated to face Jorge Navarro for a vacant interim belt on Nov. 24 in Manchester, England on the undercard of former junior welterweight champion Ricky Hatton's return from retirement against former welterweight titleholder Vyacheslav Senchenko.
"Martin Murray is the desired opponent, as long as he wins his upcoming fight," Lou DiBella, Martinez's promoter, told ESPN. "There's a huge competitive thing between Argentina and the Brits."
Also under consideration, Lewkowicz said, are Jose Miguel Torres (26-5, 23 KOs) of Colombia, former European champion Kerry Hope (17-4, 1 KO) of Wales, and Italy's Domenico Spada (36-4, 18 KOs).
The fight is being planned even though Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KOs), 37, underwent arthroscopic surgery on Monday in Spain -- where he lived for several years -- to repair a partially torn meniscus in his right knee. Martinez suffered the injury when he was knocked down in the electrifying 12th round of his unanimous decision victory against Chavez to retain the lineal 160-pound world title and reclaim the alphabet belt that had been stripped from him.
"Sergio will be ready by April," DiBella said.
Said Lewkowicz, "He will have plenty of time recuperate for a fight then."
According to Lewkowicz, the possible venues include Luna Park in Buenos Aires, an arena in Argentina as famed for boxing as New York's Madison Square Garden is for it in the United States; Monumental Stadium (which is also in Buenos Aires), where Martinez's favorite soccer team plays; and the Estadio Unico in La Plata.
"Sergio is a giant superstar in Argentina now," DiBella said. "One of the venues being discussed is a 50,000-seat soccer stadium with a retractable roof."
DiBella said the government of Argentina, the television network there that has been involved in Martinez's recent fights as well as private investors are working to put the deal together to bring a Martinez fight there. Martinez and Lewkowicz were invited to meet the president of Argentina following the fight with Chavez.
"I think it would be an amazing event," DiBella said. "He's a rock star in Argentina now. He can't walk down the street there. The Chavez fight took him to a new level."
Lewkowicz said the target date for a rematch with Mexican star Chavez is Sept. 14, the same weekend on which he met Chavez this year -- Mexican Independence Day weekend.
He said he and Top Rank's Bob Arum, Chavez's promoter, have been discussing it.
"Bob and I discussed it and that is the appropriate time for the rematch," Lewkowicz said.
Chavez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) faces a suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission for testing positive for marijuana after the fight with Martinez, but whatever time he serves, he would likely be cleared to fight by next fall.