August 30 is almost upon us, and that date was supposed to be one to circle for the Bronx-based boxer Steven Martinez. The 15-1 (12 KOs) hitter was supposed to be showing off his stuff, that pop in both hands, that finishing instinct, against arguably the best opponent he's stepped in with as a pro, one Chris Pearson.
Camp was good, weight was on target, his body and mind were firming up, and the kid was ready to rock. Win, maybe, lose, perhaps, but Aug. 30 at the Palms in Vegas, and on "ShoBox," was going to be a challenge the 24-year-old was geared up for.
Then came the news, the sort of news Martinez has heard before, the sort of news that isn't a rarity in the sport, but is one of those not infrequent occurrences which test a fighter's resolve. Pearson put out word that he couldn't go on Aug. 30. Put out word on Aug. 22 that he was pulling out of the junior middleweight tangle, because of a bum ankle.
Not again, Martinez said to himself, swearing and feeling like he wanted to punch a wall or something.
No foe, no fight. No fight, no payday.
He'd done this dance with disappointment just last month, when his foe for a scheduled July 25 bout on ShoBox, one John Thompson, had to pull out of his scheduled scrap, because he was in a car accident. That came about a week before that tussle.
I reached out to Martinez, who is promoted by Dmitriy Salita and has been building his record and experience on Salita's club shows.
"Chris Pearson is a very talented young prospect, that's why I took the fight," Martinez said. "I took this fight to prove to the fans that I am the best in the division. I don't talk, and I make a lot of sacrifices… I work hard and I fight. Pearson said he pulled out with an ankle injury. Just a few days after that he is posting photos of himself training and running six miles. The date of the fight didn't even happen yet ! He just wanted to get out of the fight! This is not fair to the boxing fans."
Pearson (11-0 with 9 KOs) is a 23-year-old lefty out of Ohio, who fights under the Mayweather Promotions umbrella. I can't say if he indeed wanted to get out of the fight for some reason other than an ankle, but indeed, by Aug. 23, Pearson took to Twitter to say that he just ran six miles, and his ankle was "guud."
I guess it does beg the question, why not take the fight then? I asked him, on Aug. 26, about the cancellation. "Ain't nothing to ask," Pearson said. "Twisted my ankle, took a week off, back in the gym, new date TBA."
And Team Martinez believes he should have pushed on…his response? "I owe it to myself to be one hundred percent when I step in the ring. What's a couple weeks to recover? He still gon' be next, that's my word."
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV