Sergio Martinez is fighting Darren Barker on October 1st. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. takes on Ronald Hearns September 17th. Unless Martinez has rapidly deteriorated overnight, Barker has little chance of pulling the upset.
Chavez should get the job done against Hearns, a slightly lower class of opponent than Sebastian Zbik, his previous foe. Hearns certainly has a better chance than Barker at upsetting the odds, but for the sake of argument, let's assume both men prevail.
Chavez will again have a wealth of options, one of the emerging big names in the sport with a legitimate following and guaranteed HBO dates. Martinez will again have a dearth of them, a fighter perceived as too big of a risk with not enough name recognition to make it financially viable for a big-name fighter to take him on.
Some quick back story: Martinez is the legitimate middleweight champion of the world. He beat Kelly Pavlik who beat Jermain Taylor who beat Bernard Hopkins and so on. He has not lost since beating Pavlik, knocking out Paul Williams and Sergei Dzinzurik over the past year. He is still active and fighting in the division.
There is no question, he is the rightful middleweight champion of the world and the only man with that claim. However, he does not currently hold any of the four alphabet belts. In beating Pavlik, he took the WBC middleweight championship as well. He defended that belt against Williams. When it came time for his next fight, Zbik was the WBC mandatory challenger. But HBO refused to accept Zbik as an opponent.
If he fought Zbik, they would not air the fight. Instead, they bizarrely insisted on Dzinzurik. The WBC could have allowed that as an acceptable defense. Let's face it, these are the alphabet bodies, they can basically do whatever they want.
Instead, they wouldn't budge on Zbik and threatened to strip Martinez if he didn't take the fight. In a bit of a bind, Martinez chose the HBO payday, and Dzinzurik and the WBC stripped Martinez, the one true champion, of his belt. To sugarcoat matters, they preposterously "elevated" him to "super diamond champion," whatever that means.
The belt was awarded to Zbik. Chavez was installed as the No. 1 contender. Then, some other things happened.
HBO lost Manny Pacquiao's pay-per-view extravaganza against Shane Mosley to rival network Showtime. Manny Pacquiao is promoted by Top Rank and Bob Arum. So is Chavez. HBO was not pleased about the Pacquiao fiasco, and perhaps, in an effort to appease Arum and company, offered to air Chavez' attempt at his first title against, in a cruel twist of irony, Zbik, the same man they refused to air against Martinez.
The rest is history. Chavez beat Zbik (by the skin of his teeth, no less). He now wears that same belt that Martinez won by beating the then-best middleweight in the world, Pavlik.
In an effort to perhaps quell some of the outrage about all of this, the WBC did issue a statement that Chavez would be required to allow Martinez a chance to get his belt back, after two mandatory defenses which will be done by the end of this year.
By the spring of 2012, all indications are that Chavez will have to fight Martinez or give him the belt back. So will it happen? Probably not. Arum is not going to risk one of his rising young money makers against a fighter who is as good as Martinez. I would be shocked if this fight actually happens, and honestly, I don't blame the Chavez side for not wanting it.
He's not ready for that yet. He may never be, but he's certainly not now. Let him fight a Marco Antonio Rubio first. Take advantage of the Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Chavez intrigue while both guys are still undefeated. Sergio Martinez is in another class than Chavez, and there's better fights for him to take anyway.
Here's five guys I would prefer to see Martinez in with next spring.