By Jake Donovan
Everything about Raul Martinez’ second crack at alphabet glory has been unconventional. So why shouldn’t one more hiccup be offered along the way?
Fortunately for San Antonio native, the latest issue is the least consequential in regards to the path traveled towards tonight’s rematch with Rodrigo Guerrero. The winner leaves the ring as a 115 lb. titlist.
Whether or not the revolution will be captured in front of a live televised audience isn’t immediately known.
The bout was originally scheduled to take place two weeks ago in Mexicali, on the undercard to Jorge Arce’s own rematch with Simphiwe Nongqayi, which aired live on Fox Deportes.
It was decided two weeks prior to the show to move Martinez-Guerrero II to another card and location, though with the plan to remain on air. That decision led to the fight being placed as the co-feature to tonight’s show at the Municipal Auditorium in Tijuana, headlined by a female championship bout between Jackie Nava and Soledad Matthysse.
Fox’ commitment to Major League Baseball with Game One of the American League Championship Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers presents a potential roadblock as its coverage overlaps the normal Top Rank Live time slot (10PM ET).
The usual workaround is for the series to air live on Fox Deportes, and with the English feed to come via tape-delay. Such was the case last weekend when Toshiaki Nishioka’s super bantamweight title defense against former lineal champ Rafael Marquez conflicted with Fox Sports’ contractual obligation to college football.
That option isn’t available tonight, since Fox’ flagship station is providing live playoff coverage, which means Fox Deportes is obligated to simultaneously air the same game en Espanol.
At present moment, Fox Deportes has dedicated a one-hour block (11PM ET/8PM PT) to tonight’s Top Rank Live card, which means that Martinez-Guerrero II most like comes in tape delay, but hopefully at least in its entirety.
That dynamic changes should the Tigers-Rangers game go into extra innings or otherwise simply run beyond the 3 ½ hour time slot dedicated to the game. If such an event occurs, the fail safe would be to catch the replay in English and Spanish, most likely the following day as has been the case with other Top Rank Live telecasts up against similar sports conflicts.
TV cameras or not, Martinez is just happy to be back in the ring. The fight is his first since outpointing Guerrero in their first fight last November. Two separate postponements with then-titlist Cristian Mijares segued into a cancelation once the Mexican southpaw decided to move up to bantamweight, resulting in an eight month stretch where he had no clue when his next fight would occur.
A deal was quickly secured for the rematch with Guerrero, but the change in date and location now leaves Martinez to endure the struggles of a career-long 11-month break from the ring, after having never went more than six months between fights at any other point in his career.
The fight with Guerrero itself is a consolation prize for Martinez’ patience, but doesn’t make it any less of a letdown considering why he originally began training camp earlier this year.
“I've had my sights sets on Mijares ever since the eliminator and when he won the title (three weeks later),” Martinez (28-1, 16KO) says of the journey leading to his second crack at a major belt. “To train for him, get cut, enter another camp and prepare for him, only to watch him vacate the title - the change of opponents was disappointing, but I have to focus on Guerrero. It won't be an easy fight.”
Martinez doesn’t necessarily mind the switch – “I’m still fighting for the title, regardless” – but his training camp has taken on an entirely new shape, as Mijares and Guerrero stylistically couldn’t be greater opposites.
Nevertheless, he’s in prime position to succeed tonight where he so miserably failed more than two years ago in his first title bid. The fourth round knockout he suffered against Nonito Donaire in April ‘09 represents Martinez’ lone loss to date, one that looks less and less disappointing as the Filipino continues to run through his competition and climb the pound-for-pound rankings.
Martinez has won four straight since then, including last November’s split decision over Guerrero. The fight itself didn’t necessarily warrant a rematch, but what’s on the line trumps who stands in the opposite corner as far as Martinez is concerned.
“This fight is for a world title, so I’m excited to fight anyone for those stakes.”
With or without the benefit of a live televised audience.
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