Argentina-born Sergio Martinez has big shoes to fill. Hes a newly crowned middleweight champ from a country thats produced one the divisions greatest in Carlos Monzon. In his first title defense, Martinez is looking to build a similarly strong legacy by facing the much-avoided Paul Williams. The bout is rematch of their 2009 Fight of the Year contender, which saw both men floored and on the receiving end of vicious exchanges.
At 35 years old, Sergio Martinezs career is on the cusp of potential blockbuster fights against the likes of a Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao if he can get past Paul Williams. Will Martinezs speed and ring savvy be enough to overcome a hungry, volume-punching American fighter on foreign soil?
AllHipHop.com: I appreciate you taking time out for this interview. How have you been doing getting the weight down to make the catchweight of 158 pounds?
Martinez: Thank you so much for your time as well. The last several weeks of the training camp are the hardest. So yes, Im a little tired and fatigued; the trainers really kicked my butt out there. But things are going great. This is probably the best training camp of my career, and youll see on November 20.
AllHipHop.com: Being that you think this one is the best camp, what have you done differently to combat Paul Williams style?
Martinez: First things first, Ive matured in the last year. Im a better fighter than a year ago. Ive done a lot of weight training, and focused on speed and conditioning workouts. Its the hardest camp for those reasons. There is another secret strategy to get inside his long punches. Im ready for this fight.
AllHipHop.com: Some of the scores in the last fight were way too wide. Is that something that presses on your mind, knowing youll again be fighting Williams on American soil?
Martinez: Thats the least of my worries right now. Ive always been the opponent in my career. Ive fought all over the world. Im the champion. If he wants it, he cant just be given the belts. He has to come and get them.
AllHipHop.com: The middleweight champion historically has been the one to meet turn back the challenges of the lower weight guys at welterweight and 154 pounds. Are you ready to potentially face Mayweather and Pacquiao?
Martinez: Absolutely, those would be great fights not only for me, but the fans and history. I would love the opportunity to fight the Pacquiaos and Mayweathers of the world.
AllHipHop.com: Youve always been a fighter that keeps a carefree attitude no matter what. Most people would have been irate by the decisions in the Kermit Cintron and Paul Williams fight. How are you able to remain so calm about things like that?
Martinez: You know Im just a laid back kind of guy. Me acting like a knucklehead and being stupid wouldnt help me out there. I always conduct myself in a professional manner. I have a clear conscience, so theres no reason for me to get irate. Ill always be a professional.
AllHipHop.com: Even as a professional, youre known for doing a bit of showboating in the ring. Is that more so to get yourself amped up, or to demoralize your opponent?
Martinez: Absolutely, thats been my style my whole career. I like to get the fans involved and give them their moneys worth 100%. Theres a little mind games in there too.
AllHipHop.com: When you look at the American fighters, do you think theyre too protected by networks as opposed to boxers from other countries? Im thinking about how the Alfredo Angulo fight fell through, and how difficult it was to make the Williams rematch.
Martinez: Thats a logical way of looking at it. American fighters do have more exposure, but thats the game. Im sure it happens in Russia and other parts of the world, too.
AllHipHop.com: Youve had some issues with the titles outside of the ring. There was a lot of back and forth about whether you could keep your 154 pound belt, and even one of the middleweight organizations (WBO) stripped you. When youre going through your decision of who to fight next, do the titles even factor in?
Martinez: I see it as a positive. Whether they give me belts or vacate, theyre still talking about me. Its more of a motivation for me to work harder and execute my fight at the time.
AllHipHop.com: I think youre the only person whos fought both Paul Williams and Kelly Pavlik. Their fight got canceled, but who do you think wouldve won between those two?
Martinez: That would be a tough fight for both of them, and a fight Id like to see. Id give the edge to Paul Williams, just because of the amount and velocity of his punches. But Pavlik has the punch to end the night at any time.
AllHipHop.com: Being from Argentina, we know the biggest fighter to come out of that country is Carlos Monzon. Just to do a mythical matchup, how would you have fought him?
Martinez: Thats my great idol. Id never want to fight him. Id definitely use my speed. I dont really want to answer that one. [laughs]
AllHipHop: Great interview today, Sergio. Any closing thoughts?
Martinez: Thanks for your time; it definitely was a great interview. Its going to be a great fight for the fans. Me and Paul Williams are going to give our all.
Sergio Martinez vs. Paul Williams airs on Saturday (November 20) on HBO at 10 PM ET.
Ismael AbduSalaam is a senior staff writer for AllHipHop.com, and the creator of Beats, Boxing and Mayhem, a website specializing in boxing and Hip-Hop coverage.