By Chris Cella
April 27 will not only mark the date middleweight king Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KO) returns to action as he seeks his sixth consecutive title defense since defeating Kelly Pavlik in 2010 and earning the WBC middleweight belt, but also the first time he will go to action in his home country since 2002, and the first time in his career he will step between the ropes in Argentina as a champion.
Across the ring from Martinez will be large underdog and England’s own undefeated interim WBA middleweight champion Martin Murray (25-0-1, 11 KO), who will be looking to play spoiler and pull off a huge upset in front of the native Argentine’s 50,000 adoring fans.
Since tickets first went on sale, all but a few hundred were purchased nearly immediately as Martinez’s fans wanted to ensure they would be present for this historic night of boxing, although nobody has been anticipating this more than the middleweight champion.
“I am very pleased with the way the event has been received by my fellow countrymen and I promise to give them a performance that will be talked about for years to come,” said Martinez. “This is a dream come true for me and I hope it inspires the youth in Argentina and the world that with hard work and a clean lifestyle anything is possible.”
In his five previous title defenses, Martinez has stopped his opponents in all but one of the bouts, his most recent fight against Julio Cesar Chavez, where he retained his belt via unanimous decision. At 38-years-old Martinez has not shown any signs of slowing down as he has continued to take down one top world contender after another.
The stage is set for Martinez to put on a show for hometown fans en route to defending his belt for the sixth time, but Martin Murray has plans of his own.
“This is a massive opportunity for me and it’s going to be a hard fight, but it doesn’t daunt me at all,” said Murray. “I’m told there’s going to be about 50,000 people in the stadium so it’s going to be very hostile. I’m always in the zone when I enter the ring though, so it makes no difference what people are doing around me. I’ll just be focused on going in there and doing my job. Sergio Martinez is easily the best middleweight in the world so obviously I’ll need to raise my game to beat him, but myself, and my team, know that’s something we’re very capable of doing. Winning this will make me the number one middleweight in the world and set up some more huge opportunities. Being on HBO is an absolute honor. It is the biggest stage in the world. There’s stardom to be had, but I don’t box for that. I’m doing this to prove I’m the best middleweight in the world and for the future of my wife and kids.”
Murray has a steep climb ahead of himself if he plans on emerging from the ring with the belt, but he has shown throughout his 26-bout career that he won’t back down from any challenge; every round he has fought within the squared circle has been leading up to the chance to fight for the world title, and he will have his opportunity to shine on foreign soil.