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Boxing champ Sergio Martinez gets his TV shot -
Sep 26, 2011
Aside from the numerous women who flitter outside his gym, middleweight world champion Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez walks the streets of Southern California mostly unrecognized even though he's one of the best boxers in the world at any weight.
Despite several scintillating wins, Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs) remains anonymous to the regular sports fan, and because of that, he's taking on even less-well-known Darren Barker (23-0, 14 KOs) on Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. HBO will televise the event.
Martinez is only 13 pounds heavier than feared Manny Pacquiao and only 6 pounds heavier than Floyd Mayweather Jr., but you will never hear those fighters mention the Argentine as a possible opponent. It's one of the quirks in boxing that exists simply because of money.
"I would go down to 150 pounds to fight Manny Pacquiao," said Martinez. "I'd like to fight Mayweather or the winner of Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito because those are fights that boxing fans would love to see."
What most fight fans fail to realize is name recognition has more value than skills or record. The boxer who can sell tickets in an arena or pay-per-views has much more value than an undefeated fighter who can't.
Talent only takes you so far.
One reason Martinez, 35, has remained one of the faceless is that he has fought mostly in Europe and South America. Another is he only speaks Spanish, and that can be detrimental unless you have the engaging personality of Roberto Duran or Alexis Arguello.
Still, his knockout win over Paul Williams and overwhelming performance against Kelly Pavlik have quickly proven to boxing experts that the ultra-quick southpaw is one of the very best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
Barker hails from London and outside of Europe, the middleweight known as "Dazzling" has even less recognition. But he's a middleweight contender and was deemed as a worthy opponent.
"You can never underestimate anyone," Martinez said.
Martinez is the true WBC middleweight champion, but that organization split the title by naming the Argentine the Diamond belt champion. Mexico's Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. won the lesser and more ordinary title by beating Sebastian Zbik in June.
The WBC and most other sanctioning bodies such as the WBA, WBO and IBF do this to enable themselves to collect more fees by having more world titles. It's one of the disturbing trends in boxing.
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