By Michael Marley
In show business circles, they might call Sergio Gabriel "Maravilla" Martinez an overnight sensation.
And they rightly could seeing how it only took the man from Quilmes, Argentina 13 professional boxing years to blossom into a genuine superstar.
Last year was when the powerful, southpaw banger from the land that gave us middleweight great Carlos Monzon, jocular but hard-hitting Ali Era heavyweight contender Oscar "Ringo" Bonavena and, more recenrtly, upset maker Carlos Baldomir, made his mark on the world fistic stage.
First, he outpointed Kelly Pavlik. Then he painted what I call "Maravilla's Masterpiece," his one punch, second round blastout of Tall Paul Williams.
I don't want to say Williams was unconscious for a long time but, when he got up his clothes were out of style Nov. 20 in Atlantic City.
Now, with his 36th birthday coming up in just 13 days and March 12 Foxwoods, Connecticut title defense against the defensive-minded Sergyi Dzinziruk, Martinez was on a busman's holiday Wednesday night at BB King's in Times Square, taking in Lou DiBella's gritty club fight card alongside trainer Gabriel Sarmiento.
Maybe it's because he's a late bloomer or because he's just a thoughtful fellow but I was impressed at how Martinez shot back sensible, detailed answers to my boxing questions.
Topic "A" was the usual barbershop debate, Floyd Mayweather fights Manny Pacquiao and who wins it?
No hesitation from this Bull of the Pampas.
"Mayweather wins this fight, I think," Martinez said. "To me, he is the top fighter in the world, regardless of any division, mainly because of his defensive skills."
Before you Pacaholics go away mad, be advised that Martinez can envision a Pacquiao victory if and when the Super Bouut becomes reality.
"I don't think Manny can knock Mayweather out. I don't see that as possible but Manny can win the fight is he exerts pressure, I mean totally constant pressure on Floyd. But that will be very difficult to do round and after round. Mayweather's slick defense comes into play."
It's worth noting that HBO was feathering Martinez's nest like it is with the Dzinziruk fight way back on Feb. 19, 2000, when the lefty from South America got stopped in seven rounds by Antonio Margarito.
That defeat might've sent some into a different line of work but, like Pacman did when he had two crushing defeats, Martinez went back to the drawing board and now he's generally regarded as the Number 3 man, behind only Manny and Floyd, in the pound for pound polls.
I asked Martinez what he thinks old scrapper Sugar Shane Mosley, only three years older than he is, against Pacman on May 7.
Again, another no bullspit, rapid fire answer.
"Nothing, Mosley has no chance," Martinez said.
Martinez seems to be as economical with his words as he is his punches.
He makes every one, word or punch, count.
He's older than Floyd and Manny and likely will never fight either but you can mark Martinez down as a Mayweather man.