There's a popular saying in boxing these days: Belts don't make fighters; fighters make belts. The IBF super bantamweight title might best exemplify this adage.
In July 2012, Nonito Donaire won the IBF 122-pound belt from Jeffrey Mathebula. But the IBF forced him to vacate it when he wanted to battle Toshiaki Nishioka, even though virtually every credible boxing media source at the time considered Donaire vs. Nishioka a clash between two of the division's elite fighters.
There's no legitimate reason that the IBF belt shouldn't be sitting around the waist of Guillermo Rigondeaux right now, since he beat Donaire earlier this year. But instead, the IBF decided the belt would be better represented by the winner of Romero and Alejandro Lopez, who fought for it last February.
Romero is a promising prospect, and I'm excited to see him fight this weekend, alphabet-soup silliness to the side. In addition to beating Lopez, he won a close and entertaining bout against Chris Avalos on Showtime in December 2011.
Romero could be a future player at 122 and 126.
Martinez has beaten some respectable journeymen, but he's stumbled almost every time he's fought anybody who would remotely qualify as a prospect. Last February, he lost by a ninth-round TKO to Carl Frampton.
He rebounded in April with a second-round TKO of 18-9-1 Damian David Marchiano. How that adds up to a world title shot is a just one of those mysteries that boxing fans encounter in this era of the alphabet-soup championship belts.