Sergio Martinez Will Fight Serhiy Dzinziruk March 12

PavlikMartinez_Bailey_7Joe Bfsptplk, the creation of the late cartoonist Al Capp, and Serhiy Dzinziruk have one thing in common, which is to say equally unpronounceable surnames.

On the other hand, more people have heard of Joe Bfstplk.

Dzinziruk’s name may be somewhat more familiar by March 12, when 2010 Fighter of the Year Sergio Martinez defends his WBC middleweight title against HBO’s favorite Ukrainian at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

Promoter Lou DiBella had hoped to showcase Martinez at the Madison Square Garden Theatre that night, but that plan was doomed by the relative anonymity of the opponent. Dzinziruk, the soon-to-be 35 year-old WBO junior middleweight champion, is undefeated in 37 pro fights, but his only US appearance came in his stoppage of Daniel Dawson on a ShoBox card in California last May. Filling even the 5,000-seat Theatre loomed a tough sell in New York, where fight fans know their Sergios from their Serhyis; ergo, the change in venue.

Once DiBella pulled the plug on the Garden Theatre, many leapt to the assumption that the Dzinziruk fight would be in Atlantic City, where Martinez’ last three fights took place, but TSS sources confirmed that it would take place at the Connecticut casino, which will be hosting its first title fight since Carl Froch-Jermain Taylor in April of 2009.

It will be the second title defense for Martinez (46-2-2), who followed his upset win over Kelly Pavlik last April with a stunning second-round knockout of Paul Williams in November.

With the fight card scheduled for the weekend before St. Patricks Day,  DiBella’s first choice in opponents had been Irish middleweight Andy Lee, but HBO turned thumbs down on both Lee and Sebastian Dzik, who as the WBC’s  “interim” champion, represented Martinez’ mandatory. Precisely why the network considers Dzinziruk more telegenic remains unlearned.

The good news for Irish boxing fans is that Lee (24-1) will box on the Foxwoods show, as will another popular 160-pounder, John Duddy (29-2). The bad news is that they won’t be fighting each other. While insisting on Dzinziruk as Martinez’ opponent, HBO will show only the main event of the live card.  In the absence of TV money, it would be impossible to satisfy what Lee and Duddy would want for fighting each other.

Having Lee on the card provides yet another benefit for the Irishman’s manager/trainer Emanuel Steward: Since he will be working the corner instead of manning an HBO microphone on March 12, Steward won’t have to spend the next two months learning how to pronounce Dzinziruk’s name.