Lou DiBella is supporting Sergio Martinez in his comeback fight, even if he has no intention of seriously promoting him in the ring again.
The 45-year-old Argentinian and former middleweight titleholder will fight for the first time since his 2014 knockout loss to Miguel Cotto on Aug. 21 in Cantabria, Spain against José Miguel Fandiño (15-6, 8 KO).
The news of Martinez’s return was treated with a collective groan from the boxing world, given how such revivals typically play out. Moreover, Martinez, who had major knee problems throughout his 30s, looked like a completely shot fighter towards the end of his career. In their middleweight title bout at Madison Square Garden in New York, Cotto dropped Martinez him four times before Martinez’s corner threw in the towel in the 10th round. DiBella promoted Martinez for the majority of his American career and was involved in his biggest fights.
“We’re close friends, I love that guy, the most loyal fighter I’ve ever worked with and one of the most remarkable athletes I’ve ever known,” DiBella said on the SI Boxing Podcast. “I’d rather see him…stay in retirement.”
DiBella recalled how Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KOs), who resides in Spain, rang him up one day about being involved in the promotion of his ring return.
“He’s like, ‘I got to do this for me. I’m bored, I’m still a fighter, I still have it in my blood, I can’t help it,” DiBella said. “If you want to be involved, I’m welcoming you to be involved, if you don’t want to be involved, please send me a release and I’d really like you as a friend to wish me the best on me.’”
DiBella turned down the offer, but he gave his blessing.
“If he’s going to come back I want to see him stay healthy, that’s what I want more than anything,” DiBella said. “Do I approve? It’s not for me to approve, it’s not my life. I’m not going to be involved, I declined. He knows how I feel. Doesn’t change how much I love him and doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to be rooting for him. I’m not a fighter.”
DiBella says that while Martinez has been supporting himself in his post-boxing life by acting in movies and doing stand-up comedy, he suspects that his former charge still identifies strongly as a prizefighter. Hence, his decision to return.
“I don’t think he perceives himself as an actor, as a comedian,” DiBella said. “He obviously has movie star looks, he obviously is charismatic, and he hasn’t had any problem earning money outside the boxing ring, but he’s a fighter and that’s how he perceives himself. That’s who he thinks he is."