Recent reports of an impending deal for a flyweight title unification fight between Julio Cesar Martinez and Artem Dalakian is news to Team Dalakian.
Philippe Fondu, the agent who represents Ukraine’s Dalakian and his promoter, Union Boxing Promotion, told BoxingScene.com on Thursday that word of an Aug. 15 date for the fight is “fake news” and moreover they have no deal for a fight.
“UBP and undefeated Artem Dalakian would be very happy, of course, to box against Julio Cesar Martinez for a great unification of the WBA and WBC flyweight titles,” Fondu said. “However, the current situation of the coronavirus in Ukraine is very critical and does not allow us to consider such an opportunity for the time being. Nobody can travel in or out of the country. The gyms are closed. And while Artem is, of course, maintaining his physical condition, training in his home, it would be impossible and even illegal to organize a proper training camp and secure sparring partners.”
Fondu was responding comments from Martinez, as quoted by ESPN Deportes this week, in which Martinez said that he was planning to head to training camp at the Otomi Ceremonial Center to prepare for the possible unification fight with Dalakian as soon as he got word from his team, adding that the tentative date he was given for the fight by him team was Aug. 15.
"We are going in with everything, except fear, to make history," Martinez told ESPN Deportes. “(A unification match with Dalakian) is what they told us and we have already started the preparation. Hopefully, it is not postponed (due to the coronavirus pandemic) and we are going to prepare ourselves a thousand percent as always.”
Dalakian (20-0, 14 KOs), 32, of Ukraine, handily outpointed Brian Viloria in February 2018 at The Forum in Inglewood, California, to win the vacant WBA world title. He has made four successful defenses, all in Kyiv, Ukraine, most recently a unanimous decision over Josber Perez on Feb. 8.
Fondu said Dalakian would like a high-profile unification fight.
“Artem Dalakian’s main ambition is, without a doubt, to unify the flyweight division and will be happy to do so against Julio Cesar Martinez, but in the actual circumstance, it is technically impossible to do so due to the pandemic situation,” Fondu said.
Martinez (16-1, 12 KOs), 25, of Mexico, who is promoted by Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn and shares trainer Eddy Reynoso with Canelo Alvarez, Oscar Valdez and Ryan Garcia, knocked out former world titlist Cristofer Rosales in the ninth round to win the vacant WBC title in December and returned quickly to make his first title defense by unanimous decision over Jay Harris on Feb. 29 on the Mikey Garcia-Jessie Vargas undercard in Frisco, Texas.
“I’d love to do something big for my Mexican people,” Martinez said on Matchroom Boxing’s “Peleamundo” talk show. “They always support me. I feel very happy and grateful. We’re just coming for all those belts. I just want the best fights. Whatever Eddie Hearn and Eddy Reynoso decide. The best fights with the best purses. I just want all the belts and stay champion for a while. I’d like to unify the belts.”
On the show he mentioned interest in fight with former flyweight titlist Kosei Tanaka, who recently vacated his belt to move up in weight, as well as flyweight titleholder Moruti Mthalane. However, he did not mention Dalakian during the interview on the show.
Reynoso said he believes that Martinez would make it tough for any flyweight he might face and that they have plans for him to move up to the junior bantamweight division sooner rather than later.
“He’s very disciplined,” Reynoso said. “He shows all the characteristics of a typical Mexican fighter. He likes to fight. He likes to train and more than anything, he’s a star. In such few fights he’s already won a world championship and I believe if he keeps on the same path, he’s going to do great things because he’s a good fighter who’s very fond of learning. He’s very technical. He’s there. He’s a great champion.
“He’s charismatic, he’s brave, he’s a very strong fighter for the division. He has lots of endurance. He’s not scared. Whatever fight you put him in, he’ll fight. He’s different than the other fighters. He has a few things to learn, but we’re going to vary the training to get him more technically sound fight by fight. He’s always laughing and smiling. He turns the fights into like a circus. He’s very positive. You never see him angry. He’s a very hard working, smiling, laughing, positive fighter.”
Dan Rafael was ESPN.com's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.