by David P. Greisman
Sergio Martinez announced in mid-July that he would not be retiring despite his one-sided loss to Miguel Cotto over the course of nine rounds in June, a defeat that came after the middleweight champion had spent more than a year recovering from injuries to his knee and hand.
His promoter, Lou DiBella, tells BoxingScene that he supports Martinez’s decision. Martinez will soon be coming to New York to “see one of the top orthopedic guys in the country” and “be fully checked out,” DiBella said.
“The knee he insisted to me wasn’t the real problem,” the promoter said. “He said the first punch in the fight, that he lost his equilibrium, basically, and really was disconnected for the rest of the fight. He didn’t look like himself in that fight. It wasn’t until he got in the shower, frankly, and got out of the shower that he seemed to totally have his wits about him. He was out with the first punch, and they had to stop the fight in the corner. He wasn’t going to stop fighting. I think the corner did the right thing in stopping the fight.”
DiBella said that Martinez has “earned the right to make his own decision” about retirement
“Look, I was concerned because you se a guy and he doesn’t look like himself. I never thought in a million years that the fight with Cotto would be that one-sided. When I do look back at it, I really do believe the fight was over in the first round. The interesting thing is he wasn’t limping the next day. …He has gone and been checked out and they basically said they didn’t think it was a structural issue with the knee. There was probably a concussive incident and a disconnect between his body and his head. He really was sort of fighting on adrenaline and on heart.
“He’s a grown guy. He’s a really together, astute, mature man,” DiBella said. “Obviously he wants to proceed with his career, but he’s also intelligent and thoughtful enough to say, ‘I’m going to go to New York and get checked out by one of the best guys in the world.’ I’m going to support him and be with him until the end. If he gets back in the ring and it’s not Sergio Martinez, I’m going to be the first one to say it.”
But can he be Sergio Martinez again?
“Not Sergio Martinez of five years ago, but a lot better fighter than the guy you saw on that night in Madison Square Garden,” DiBella said. “I have no question that he was not there after the first punch. It was to the temple. It’s a place that affects your equilibrium, that affects your ring judgment. I’m going to defer to him. If he would’ve retired, he wouldn’t have heard a peep out of me. His decision to continue is his decision, and you’re not going to hear me criticize it.
“We’re going to be intelligent in his next fight. We’re not going to fight Canelo Alvarez. We’re not going to fight the biggest fight that might present itself if Sergio was viewing himself as an opponent. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to fight a fight against a credible guy to assess where he is. I know him well enough to know that he’s capable of honest self-assessment. After that next fight, one way or the other, he’ll do that.”
It won’t be a long track for rebuilding his career, though.
“He promised his mother that he wasn’t going to fight past 40, and I don’t believe he will,” DiBella said. “I think the end timeframe for his career is his 41st birthday. I don’t think he’s going to fight past 40. If he has a fight and looks good and looks more like the Sergio Martinez people are used to seeing, I think there’ll be a big fight. And then I think on that big fight, he’s at the point in his career, win or lose, that he would probably walk away. I don’t think there’s more than two or three fights in him, no matter what.”
And DiBella said there’s no rematch clause with Cotto.
“He wanted the fight so badly we took it up the wazoo on the deal we made, frankly.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide . Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]