By Jake Donovan
An alphabet title remains at stake, but the rematch between Raul Martinez and Rodrigo Guerrero now has a new date, location and even plays a new role.
BoxingScene.com was informed that the bout – originally slated as a televised co-feature for the September 24 installment of Top Rank Live on Fox Deportes – has been pushed back two weeks to October 8. It will also no longer take place in Mexicali, as the vacant title fight now headlines its own show in Tijuana, Mexico.
The news is just the latest change in Martinez’ bizarre journey as he makes a second attempt at a major title. The San Antonio native has been the mandatory challenger since last November, but has endured changes in dates, locations and even opponents.
On the shelf since last his hard-fought first battle with Guerrero last November to become mandatory challenger, Martinez (28-1, 16KO) was originally in line to face Cristian Mijares this past February. That bout was scrapped due to Martinez not fully healing from the cuts and bruises suffered in the aforementioned bout, which also aired on Top Rank Live.
A new date was set for later in the year, only for Mijares to pull out of the fight and vacate the belt, citing a desire to move up to the bantamweight division after two tours as a super flyweight titlist.
With that news came the offer for a rematch with Guerrero (15-3, 10KO), which Martinez gladly accepted given what would be at stake. The bout was paired up with another rematch on the September 24 show in Mexicali, as recently crowned super bantamweight titlist Jorge Arce attempts to avenge a two-year old loss against Simphiwe Nongqayi.
Rather than a title fight doubleheader on September 24, Top Rank and Zanfer Promotions opted to split it into two separate cards, now giving Fox Deportes three straight Top Rank Live telecasts featuring world title bouts. Arce-Nongqayi remains intact for the September 24 show in Mexicali, while Martinez-Guerrero II tops the bill at a soon to be announced venue in Tijuana on October 8.
Sandwiched in between is an October 1 title fight doubleheader from Las Vegas. Super bantamweight titlist Toshiaki Nishioka fights in the US for the first time since 2002 as he defends against Rafael Marquez. The co-feature showcases undefeated junior flyweight titlist Roman Gonzalez in his long awaited stateside debut, in a defense against Gilberto Keb Bass.
The October 8 rematch marks both fighters’ second attempt at alphabet glory. Martinez fell short – along with losing his undefeated record – in a fourth round knockout loss to Nonito Donaire in April 2009, having since won four straight bouts. Guerrero displayed a cast iron chin in going all 12 rounds with Vic Darchinyan in his failed title bid last March, though snapping a four-year, 11-fight win streak in the process.
Martinez has not fought since his win over Guerrero last November. The two-week shift in dates will extend his rate of inactivity to 46 weeks by fight night, by far the longest of his career, having previously never gone more than six months between fights. The oft-delayed trip to Mexico marks his first pro fight south of the border in nearly five years.
Guerrero has fought just once in 2011, scoring a fourth round knockout over a non-descript opponent in a stay busy fight this past April.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to JakeNDaBox@gmail.com