By Sean Crose
After receiving what could only be described as a brutal beating at the hands of Miguel Cotto last month, former middleweight champion Sergio Martinez has decided not to retire. “He is one hundred percent healthy and ready to do what it takes to return to the very top of boxing,” Martinez’ adviser, Sampson Lewkowicz, has said.
The obvious question now is whether or not the Argentinian boxer is actually capable of doing what it takes to get back on top of the fight game. His loss to Cotto, who most thought he would easily beat, was so brutal, so completely one sided, that it’s hard to imagine Martinez ever getting a rematch.
Indeed, it’s difficult imagining Martinez stepping up to face middleweight titlists Gennady Golovkin or Peter Quillin, as well. For the Martinez fans saw in Madison Square Garden last June would be easily handled by Quillin…and might well be hurt by the hard hitting Golovkin.
As if that weren’t enough, Lewkowicz’ own words on the Cotto fight are downright frightening. “He (Martinez) remembers only pieces,” the adviser is reported as saying, “and had very little control of his body and especially his legs.”
Still, Lewkowicz has insisted that Martinez will be thoroughly examined by doctors before he fights again. Doctors are something Martinez is familiar with, for he’s undergone several operations in recent memory.
He’s also undergone several close calls in the ring. Julio Caesar Chavez Junior knocked Martinez to the canvas in the final round of their bout. Then, Martin Murray gave Martinez’ a real run during the WBC champ’s homecoming in Argentina.
In other words, there were concerns about Martinez long before the Cotto bout. The loss to the Puerto Rican icon, however, certainly put an exclamation point on what some might consider to be a slow decline. Yet Martinez, who was the picture of grace and sportsmanship in defeat, seems unwilling to fade off into boxing history.
What’s more, his team is sticking by him. “He said he can still do it,” claimed his promoter, Lou DiBella, “and that he’s totally committed to winning back his title, so I stand behind him.” DiBella also claimed that Martinez returned with a vengeance years ago after he was beaten by Antonio Margarito. Still, the promoter made it clear that a watchful eye would be kept on his boxer.
“If he (Martinez) doesn’t look to be the same fighter anymore, I will be the first to admit it,” DiBella said. “But he deserves the chance to prove it (the loss to Cotto) was just an off-night in an otherwise stellar career.”
Even if Martinez were to come back with a dominant victory over a top opponent, however, there would still be the age factor to deal with, for the man is close to forty. Unless Martinez were to somehow, someway, prove to be a timeless warrior like Bernard Hopkins, he would find himself fighting on borrowed time, no matter how good he looked in his return.
“It was the worst night of his entire career,” Lewcowicz said of the Cotto fight, “and he is coming back to prove he is a superstar fighter who just had a bad night.” If Lewcowicz and DiBella sound like they’re pretty much saying the same thing it’s because they are. Yet they know Martinez better than most. Indeed, they’ve supported him when no one else wanted to. One can only hope, however, that the former middleweight champion doesn’t go from a bad situation to a worse one. Losing decisively is still more honorable than losing repeatedly.
And Martinez has proven himself to be nothing if not an honorable fighter.