After Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez's stunning second-round knockout of the vaunted Paul "The Punisher" Williams, boxing fans worldwide are wondering what the next move is for Martinez. He has certainly looked like fighter of the year, beating Kelly Pavlik and then knocking out Paul Williams (one of the top five pound-for-pound fighters prior to their bout) in such dominant fashion.
To me, the next move is clear: a matchup with Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Martinez is the most charismatic man in boxing and has been one of the most popular over the past year. He has style, flair, excellent technical skills, and apparently the power to knock out one of the world's top fighters.
I have long insisted that the winner of Williams-Martinez would supplant Juan Manuel Marquez as the No. 3 fighter on the pound-for-pound lists, and I think Martinez has confirmed this, and then some. He is one of the greatest fighters in the world right now, no doubt. Superior to Marquez and Nonito Donaire in terms of his recent accomplishments.
So where does he go? He's a fighter who can clearly make weight in at least three divisions, and he has exhausted the competition at light middleweight/super welterweight, and now at middleweight. He is 35 now, and clearly seems deserving of a world-class television date. More deserving than Mosley, Margarito, Clottey, Cotto, or anyone else not named Pacquiao or Mayweather.
The most natural matchup for Martinez—a fight with the world's No. 1 fighter, Manny Pacquiao.
It seems to work well for all parties, but especially for boxing fans. Pacquiao hasn't fought anyone with slick defense and clear technical gifts since at least Cotto, and many would say since he last won over Marquez with a controversial split decision.
Martinez is a treat to watch in the ring. He has style, charisma, flair, exceptional hand speed, he fights as a southpaw, and he makes me want to watch boxing. That can't be said for many other fighters in the world right now.
Pacquiao, on the other hand, has totally outdone his recent opponents with his overwhelming speed and ability to slip punches and deliver powerful blows from many different angles. But could he do that against a guy like Martinez, who has some size on Manny and has a resume that has been far greater than any of the Filipino's recent opponents.
I've skipped out on a lot of recent pay per view fights because they just didn't seem engaging. This is one that I'd be glad to bring friends to come watch with me at my house or a sports bar. It's what boxing needs. A marquee bout between two likable, top-tier fighters who are not afraid to step into the ring and put it all on the line in the name of boxing supremacy.
Who wants to see Manny Pacquiao fight Shane Mosley? Nobody.
Mosley has long been one of my favorite fighters, and I think he has been one of our sport's best assets for years. I like the guy, I think he's a future hall of famer, and I want to see him find more success.
But he doesn't deserve to fight Pacquiao. Mosley hasn't won since beating Margarito in January 2009. By the time he steps into the ring with his next opponent, it will have been two years since he won. His last two fights haven't been impressive: a decisive loss to a dominant Floyd Mayweather, Jr and a draw (admittedly one Shane deserved to have won) with Sergio Mora.
Mosley is now in his late 30s and hasn't proven that he's worthy to step into the ring with a guy like Pacquiao anymore. Pacquiao said his next fight could be his last, and do we want to risk that on a guy like Mosley? What would it prove? What would it do for boxing?
A matchup with Martinez would be an absolute winner: two speedy, powerful, talented southpaws who are among the world's top three fighters.
They could fight at 156 or a catchweight, and now that Martinez is the reigning middleweight champion for two different divisions, it isn't unforeseeable that it could even be for a middleweight title, which must be enticing to someone like Pacquiao who already holds the record for winning titles in 8 divisions, and could very possibly win a ninth, since he would still arguably be a favorite against Martinez.
So to Bob Arum and whoever are the other powers-that-be who have been depriving us of quality matchups at the top of the pound-for-pound lists, let's do right by boxing fans, and book a fight that would be a clear winner. I know I'll take out my pocketbook for that.