Sergio Martinez went into 2010 with a middleweight title shot against Kelly Pavlik. He left 2010 with the middleweight world championship, a bloody star-making victory over Pavlik and a shocking second-round knockout of an iron-chinned Paul Williams to avenge a close decision loss in 2009.
Fast-forward to 2013, a now 38-year-old Martinez barely escaped a fight in his home country of Argentina with a decision over previously undefeated Martin Murray. Martinez reinjured his right knee and left hand that required surgery in late 2012 after scoring a decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
The young and talented of the middleweight division have watched Martinez get knocked down in each of his three previous fights and they smell the blood of an aging king.
Martinez will sit out the remainder of the year due to his injuries and when he returns in 2014, he’ll want to make the biggest payday possible as his career nears its end.
Whoever proves to be the hottest star at the close of 2013 will be a top candidate for Martinez to face.
This opportunity has caused the best of the middleweight division to start calling each other out and taking tough bouts to earn their way into the ring across from the king.
The stars-in-the-making are plenty. The potential for classic fights is immense. Here’s a breakdown of who’s who, where they’re headed next and what do they stand to gain over the next half of the year.