Middleweight lineal champion Sergio Martinez has undoubtedly become one of the breakout success stories of the last couple of years, rising from relative mainstream obscurity to become the best fighter in the world at 154lbs and 160lbs.
More recently, his achievements have also caused his name to be mentioned in the pound for pound stakes, and since his win last weekend over Serhiy Dzinziruk several reports have now surfaced naming him as the number one fighter in the sport, ousting widely regarded number one Manny Pacquiao and bumping down his rival Floyd Mayweather.
But does Martinez’s latest win over Serhiy Dzinziruk really mean that much in terms of the pound for pound picture?
After all wasn’t Dzinziruk supposed to be an awkward but beatable opponent for Martinez?
An opponent it would be difficult to look good against, and Martinez certainly outdid himself in that regard, but ultimately a fighter untested at world level who’s best win was a decision over Daniel Santos five years ago.
Not to mention the fact that Dzinzurik was also stepping up in weight at the relatively advanced age of 35.
Undoubtedly, Martinez had a much tougher run last year than either pound for pound stalwarts Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather.
Firstly he beat lineal middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, who many had pegged to remain champion for many years to come, and who was a sizable favorite to beat Martinez on the night as well.
Martinez calls out Cotto, Pacquiao, Mayweather, unlikely to face any of them
Then he knocked out Paul Williams in two rounds, a fighter many considered to be the number three pound for pound and who had narrowly outpointed Martinez the previous year.
By comparison in 2010 Floyd Mayweather took on Shane Mosley, declared himself to be on a vacation and embarked on a series of altercations leading to legal problems that look set to continue for much of this year, and he seemingly hasn’t entertained any serious notion of fighting again since.
(A brief aside, it will be interesting to see whether or not Mayweather will be removed from most of the more well respected ranking lists having been inactive for a year in May. Should that happen Martinez is a lock for second place.)
For pound for pound champ Manny Pacquiao, last year was also a lot less difficult in terms of opponents than his 2009 run was. In March Pacquiao took on Joshua Clottey, admittedly due in large part to the failed negotiations between himself and Mayweather, and in November Antonio Margarito, neither of which were regarded as elite opposition.
Clottey was a solid top ten welterweight, but a safety first style and losses to Miguel Cotto and Margarito put him firmly outside the best in the division.
Margarito was one fight back from his one year suspension for attempting to use loaded hand wraps against Shane Mosley, and until he gets another big win in the bag many fans will continue to question all of his prior achievements.
So Martinez fought the better competition in 2010, but looking further back than last year, what did he achieve to rival what Pacquiao and Mayweather did to claw their way to the zenith of the sport?
Martinez’s resume isn’t packed with big names prior to 2009, and aside from a loss to Antonio Margarito ten years ago, few names prior to Martinez’s controvercial draw with Kermit Cintron would exactly jump off the page to the average fan.
Both Mayweather and Pacquiao by contrast have resume’s packed with the best of the best. Fans of either fighter tend to deride the achievements and resume of the other but in this case even the most fanatic supporter would have to admit that the achievements of both men are a clear step above any other fighters in the sport today, Martinez included.
James Quentin, Pitt: “Last week it was Donaire everyone was saying was on top, now it’s Martinez because he beat some obscure European champ noone had ever heard of. Still a long way from Floyd or Pac”
Ally Smythe, Philly: “Martinez would beat anyone from welter to middle, but if he wants to outdo Manny and Floyd he needs to dominate his division then move up”