By Lyle Fitzsimmons
Good day, sirs. I hope all is well where you are.
First off, pardon the interruption. I know I don’t have a formal appointment and you probably weren’t expecting a note.
But for lack of a better term, you may consider this an initial and emphatic banging of a potentially recurring Tuesday drum.
The only fight that matters … the only fight I want to see … the only fight that either of you should spend more than cursory time working on for the remainder of 2011 – is now clear.
Sergio Martinez needs to fight Manny Pacquiao.
Today. Tomorrow. Next week. At sundown on the first Monday in October.
I really don’t care.
The specifics aren’t important. The details are immaterial. I’ll leave those to your minions who make far more than I do to suffer headaches.
Migraines are not resident to my pay grade.
The only vital issue is that the best active fighter in the world – Pacquiao or Martinez, take your pick – meets the second-best active fighter in the world, Martinez or Pacquiao, take your pick, in a 20x20-ish ring with four strong ropes and a referee … sometime before this year becomes next.
As charters of their promotional courses, only you two can make it happen.
And based on what’s elsewhere in your stables, it’s clearly the best option for you both.
Side note: For those reading along who still insist Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the best or second-best fighter in the world … too bad. After 10 months on the shelf for whatever reason – legal, personal, juvenile, etc. – it’s time to move on to something else. If he wants to fight the winner to kick off 2012 … terrific.
If not, let him fight the lead cop at the nearest shopping mall for bragging rights.
Either way, I’ve waited for “Money” long enough.
Anyway Bob, for Pacquiao’s side of things, the credentials to have a role in the year’s biggest event go without saying.
His routs of Margarito and Clottey in 2010 weren’t quite as impressive as the Cotto/Hatton blowouts of a year prior, but your dynamic Filipino charge has surely prolonged a roll that again warrants significant financial windfall.
Having him on the bill ensures international media coverage, mandates Manila website traffic and guarantees heady “he’s the best ever” proclamations from those who’ve tipped back a few too many of your specially-mixed Top Rank Kool-Aids.
And as for Sergio, Lou, he’s the most intriguing available rung since Manny’s ladder climb began.
I’ll admit not being awed with the Valentine’s Day sleepwalk against Kermit Cintron in Florida a few years back, but the draw he got stuck with that night was nonetheless a scoring miscarriage of at least minor proportions.
And if I recall your expression that night in Sunrise, I think you agree.
But he’s been nothing but attention-worthy in four headline bouts since, going to the limit with “most feared” wannabe Paul Williams in December 2009 before permanently scrapping that trumped-up aura with a breathtaking poleax 11 months later.
Mixed in for good measure were the stretch-run lifting of Kelly Pavlik’s jewelry and a methodical breakdown of unbeaten 154-pound champion Sergiy Dzinziruk last weekend in Connecticut – a match you made only when no one else, specifically Pacquiao and Mayweather, showed an interest.
I gotta be honest, though, Lou … now I’m not so sure I blame them.
The guy’s slickness and swat present high-end challenges to anyone, and it’s specifically the mix some allege as absent from Pacquiao’s quarry – though not all as colorfully as Bernard Hopkins – since Manny last tangoed with Juan Manuel Marquez three years ago tonight.
But as smart boxing guys, you two know it’s the one we’re drooling over.
And before it becomes a sticking point, let’s admit weight’s of little issue.
Remember Bob, Martinez was at 154 as recently as the Cintron bout and hasn’t brushed the high end of middleweight in any of the four fights since. He’s heavier, sure, but he’s no James Toney.
And at 5-foot-10, he’s actually an inch shorter than Pacquiao’s last foe – Margarito – who won by KO when they met as 20-somethings on the Morales-Barrera card at Mandalay Bay in 2000.
Don’t let them kid you, Lou.
It’s because of that result that both Freddie and Bob believe their guy can win the fight.
No matter the weight class.
And as the competitive guy I figure you to be, I’m sure you’d love to prove them wrong.
As for titles, OK, I know neither guy holds a belt at 154. And I’m not a huge fan of catch-weights.
But what better way to stick a thumb in GBP’s eye than to overrule their new junior middle darling with the two hottest names in the sport?
Heck, maybe Jose, Gilberto or a fellow alphabet czar would invent a championship for you, just to liven up the pre-fight introductions. Or even Oscar Illustrated could deem it worthy in its regal pages.
Sigh … just imagine the possibilities.
Seriously, gentlemen, there are a million more reasons to make it happen than to call it off. And while I doubt it’ll keep you up nights, I’d rather not have to jam your inbox with a letter every Tuesday.
I’m not clever enough to get past this month, and you guys know a blockbuster when you see it.
Sign the contracts, book the press conference and give us something to drown out the “see, boxing is dead” noise from the Affliction T-shirts while they await next month’s UFC slap and tickle.
And hey, if you need an extra publicist to gobble up an expense account … I’m your guy.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s title-fight schedule:
IBF super middleweight title – Montreal, Canada
Lucian Bute (champion) vs. Brian Magee (No. 5 contender)
Bute (27-0, 22 KO): Seventh title defense; Six KO wins in seven title fights since 2007 (7-0, 6 KO)
Magee (34-3-1, 24 KO): Tenth title fight (8-1, 5 KO); Held IBO title from 2001-04 – seven defenses
Fitzbitz says: “Streaking Romanian-turned-Canadian destined for big-stage payoff.” Bute in 8
WBA light flyweight title – Puebla, Mexico
Roman Gonzalez (champion) vs. Manuel Vargas (unranked)
Gonzalez (27-0, 23 KO): First title defense; Worked eight rounds in three 2010 fights (3-0, 3 KO)
Vargas (29-7-1, 14 KO): Second title fight; Lost WBO title fight at 105 pounds in 2009
Fitzbitz says: “Another short-order win for hard-punching Nicaraguan champion.” Gonzalez in 6
WBC heavyweight title – Cologne, Germany
Vitali Klitschko (champion) vs. Odlanier Solis (No. 1 contender)
Klitschko (41-2, 38 KO): Sixth title defense; Nine KO wins in 13 title fights since 1999 (11-2, 9 KO)
Solis (17-0, 12 KO): First title fight; Tenth fight in Germany (9-0, 5 KO)
Fitzbitz says: “Upset special … Cuban export ready to spring stunner in title debut.” Solis by decision
Last week’s picks: 4-0
Overall picks record: 186-59 (75.9 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him at www.twitter.com/fitzbitz .