In response to my article last week exploring the list of possible (and impossible) opponents for Sergio Martinez’s next fight, I received an email from a particularly interested party: Mike Delware, the trainer of Contender-turned-contender Bryan Vera. Make no mistake, this is not an impartial opinion regarding whom Martinez should fight. This opinion is about as partial as it gets. But it’s worth printing and responding to:
Bryan Vera is the fight for Martinez. He has showed he can box as well as punch. Under my training he is becoming a more of a complete fighter and he has the tools to knock off a champion like Martinez. He had only been with me as his trainer for five months as he prepared to fight Pavlik, then Pavlik backed out eight days before the fight and Andy Lee’s name was brought in. Bryan began training to fight Lee and once again it fell out. Bryan had been training for six months preparing to fight two totally different styles and then got the call to fight Sergio Mora, another totally different style. We kept changing game plans for each fighter, which can take a toll on a fighter, but not Bryan. He would take all the teaching in like a sponge and adapted to all the new things he was being asked to do, and that’s why we beat Mora. And it wasn’t a split decision, one judge was either blind or asleep. Either way, Bryan showed he’s more than a pit bull. He can box when he is asked to. Bryan Vera is ready to fight anyone in the top 10, but they are not ready to fight him. Andy Lee and Peter Manfredo might be the only two that would step up to the challenge, because they are tough guys that run from no one. Last: Styles make fights and Vera has the style to beat Martinez and take his title. It would be a crowd-pleasing performance and a fan-friendly fight, at least up to the point we took his belt.
First off, congratulations on Vera’s victory over Mora. I wish I could give you a good reason for why I didn’t include Vera as a potential Martinez opponent, but he didn’t quite make the cut and it’s something that’s hard to put a finger on. He’s probably more live as an underdog than Manfredo or Nobuhiro Ishida. And with wins over Lee and Mora on his resume, plus Sebastian Demers, Vera is more deserving than those guys also. But he’s not as big a name as Manfredo and, ridiculous as this may sound, he doesn’t have the “fighting for Japan” angle that Ishida has. To the best of my knowledge, Vera’s name isn’t being mentioned at all for Martinez. I’d say it’s because, even though he’s as credible as some other names in the mix, he seems to lack a “hook.”
And that’s a shame because, in this instance where Martinez is probably going to settle for a non-superstar challenger, Vera deserves consideration. He won’t be boring, and he won’t quit no matter what. I respectfully disagree with you that he has the style to take Martinez’s title; I believe Martinez to be an extraordinarily gifted fighter and I’d expect him to win every round and eventually stop Vera. But you’re right that it would be a fan-friendly fight.
I’m not going to sit here and demand Martinez vs. Vera. I’d be lying if I said it’s the best possible fight. But it’s certainly not the worst possible fight. And Vera is trained by a TSS reader; that has to count for something. So you have my half-hearted endorsement. If Ross Greenburg calls me, I’ll tell him Martinez-Vera isn’t bad given the circumstances, and that the people would rather see that fight than see something like Paul Williams vs. Ishida.
Now, while I wait around for Greenburg to call, I’m going to pass the time with some Rants:
• I doubt I could ever get sick of Manny Pacquiao, the fighter. But Manny Pacquiao, the karaoke-singing, CD-releasing talk show guest? I could have sworn I was ready to officially be sick of that guy. Then I watched his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live last week. And damn it, even though he hardly said a thing, he somehow charmed me once again. I don’t know how he does it, but he does it.
• You know you’ve made it to the big time when you work up a sweat in mold-infested, spit-bucket-stanky boxing gyms for a living and someone wants to sell a cologne with your name attached to it.
• If I’m one of Jesse Brinkley’s handlers, this progression worries me: first, losing by ninth-round knockout to Lucian Bute; next, losing by third-round knockout to a guy with a smiley-face tattoo on his arm.
• Speaking of Peter Quillin vs. Brinkley, I thought Joe Cortez’s stoppage was well timed. Congratulations, Joe, you’ve reached the point where it’s worth commenting on when you manage to not screw something up.
• The third episode of Fight Camp 360 was a slight improvement over the previous episodes, for three reasons: the Knockout Ring Girl contest, and Shane Mosley’s new girlfriend. No, my math is not flawed; Bella Gonzalez counts as two reasons. And if you watched the show, you know exactly what two reasons I’m talking about.
• On a related note, if I never see Ken Frank with his shirt off again, I’ll mark that down as proof of a benevolent god.
• My favorite mispronunciation of the weekend: Teddy Atlas saying Glendy Hernandez came from an “improvished” situation in Cuba. No Hernandez didn’t have much money, but he was outstanding on Who’s Line Is It Anyway.
• That interview with Zab Judah on Friday Night Fights really wants to make me believe in the new, mature Judah. He’s not a kid anymore. He’s wearing V-neck sweaters and no bling. If I’m going to get burned by him one more time, shame on me, but I’m kind of buying into it. And for what it’s worth, I think Judah-Juan Manuel Marquez and Judah-Amir Khan are both intriguing fights in which it’s hard to pick a winner.
• Assuming you’re reading this on Wednesday, there should be a new episode of Ring Theory (http://ringtheory.podbean.com) going up tonight. We’ll attack Pacquiao-Mosley from a number of angles (“attack” being the operative word), and we’ll also discuss Tim Bradley possibly balking at a Khan fight. And even though we’ve bashed him mercilessly in recent weeks, Gus Johnson has agreed to join us. Oh yes, there will be fireworks. (Though I doubt you’ll be able to hear them over Gus’ constant screaming.)