August 28, 2012
With just a little more than two weeks to go before his September 15 title fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., middleweight champion and pound-for-pound superstar Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs) has been experiencing his share of distractions.
Threats and an incident of vandalism over the weekend at the Oxnard-based training camp of the two-division world champion has forced the cancellation of Martinez's Media Day Workout, set for Tuesday, August 28 in Ventura, California. Martínez is deep in training for his upcoming bout with undefeated World Boxing Council (WBC) middleweight champion Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32 KOs).
"This past weekend Sergio received threats from an unknown source and the car in front of his home was vandalized," said Lou DiBella, Martínez's promoter. "Unfortunately, until we have a security team in place, we are going to have to suspend any and all public and media appearances for Sergio, including the upcoming media day scheduled for tomorrow in Oxnard. We apologize for the inconvenience to the media and fans that have planned on attending tomorrow’s event.”
Julio César Chávez's Las Vegas media workout, scheduled for Thursday, August 30, at 2:00 p.m., will go on as scheduled.
This latest announcement can only add more whispers to the almost unspoken intrigue surrounding the fight.
For years, Chavez has been viewed as a mediocre and protected fighter who has carved out a nice living by piggybacking off his father's name and taking on nothing but the most rotten of tomato cans.
However, a recent pairing with respected trainer Freddie Roach has led to increased dedication from Chavez and an improvement in his overall skills.
When Chavez secured a win over contender Andy Lee in his last bout, it breathed new life into his career. Seizing on the opportunity, Chavez elected to fight the division's royalty -- Sergio Martinez.
That in turn has led many to the obvious question: Why would promoter Bob Arum let the lucrative Chavez gravy train come to a halt by matching him with the seemingly superior Martinez?
Some have conjectured that Chavez can only gain by displaying a willingness to fight the best. Others have speculated that another Chavez matchup with a skilled contender similar to Lee could easily produce a loss, and thus, jeopardize any hope of a Martinez fight.
Still others have thought that the matchup is simply a classic underdog storyline that makes for compelling theater.
But then there is another school of thought, from the conspiracy theory wing no less, which fresh off of viewing the recent Bradley-Pacquiao farce, believes that Arum will pull the right strings for Chavez should the fight ever get to the scorecards.
And who could blame them for thinking that way? In this sport, stranger things have happened. Not the least of which are threats to boxers.
For years, stories have swirled of Muslim sympathizers explicitly threatening Sonny Liston prior to his rematch with Muhammad Ali. Those anecdotes suddenly gained more credibility, in the eyes of some at least, when Liston went down from Ali's famous "phantom punch."
Others simply witnessed the slower Liston getting caught with a shot he never saw.
Regardless of whether one believes that the sport is clean or that it is filled with overt corruption, this particular fight certainly is beginning to enter the "odd" realm as we draw closer to the opening bell.
Let's hope we hear nothing further from the fill-in-the-blank coward who issued this gutless threat to one of boxing's true gentlemen. His actions have already brought a stench to this otherwise exciting event.
More importantly, let's hope the conspiracy theorists are wrong. A stench is bad. But another Bradley-Pacquiao permanent stank? That is something the sport just cannot handle at this point.
By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for The Daily Sports Herald