(June 10, 2009) The World Boxing Council has officially named Sergio Martinez the welterweight champion of the world. Martinez (44-1-2, 24 KOs) won the interim version of the title last October, stopping well-regarded veteran Alex Bunema in 8 rounds.
In a statement released by the WBC on May 20, President Jose Sulaiman praised former champion Vernon Forrest for his commitment to the sport, but was adamant about the need for Martinez to take the reigns as champion in the division.
“Sergio Martinez is one of the most loyal fighters I have ever met as WBC President,” said Sulaiman. “[Sergio] is now regarded as a new sensation of boxing and I am sure that he will proudly represent the WBC.”
Obtaining ownership of the title was a long time coming for Martinez (44-1-2, 24 KOs).
After winning the interim title 8 months ago, Martinez has been trying to get Forrest in the ring, biding his time with a defense vs. Kermit Cintron in February. Once Forrest pulled out of their scheduled August 1st contest, the WBC made its ruling.
“I’m very proud of the WBC,” said Martinez. “I would’ve been happier winning the title in the ring, but I deserved this honor.”
With the famous green belt now solely in his possession, Martinez, widely regarded as one of boxing’s budding stars, is ready to take on all comers in the welterweight division.
“I’m not running away from anyone,” said Martinez. “Now that I have the green belt, I plan on keeping it for a long time. And if Vernon ever decides to get his title back, I’ll be there.”
No one is happier to hear those words than his promoter, Lou DiBella, who is ready to move his fighter’s career forward.
“It’s a pleasure to promote a fighter who will take on any challenge,” said DiBella. “We’re pursuing all opportunities for Sergio Martinez.”
There is still a chance the bout with Forrest will happen. As part of the WBC’s ruling Forrest is entitled to a shot at his old belt if and when he deems himself healthy enough for active competition.
Team Martinez is not only prepared to finally step into the ring with Forrest, but is welcoming the opportunity to get their long awaited showdown.
“Sergio is looking to defend his title anytime, anywhere,” said Martinez manager Sampson Lewkowicz. “If Vernon Forrest decides to step to the plate, Sergio will be waiting for him.”