Andre Ward vs. Sergio Martinez is the absolute must-make, must-see fight in boxing. The two are now regarded by some as the number 2 and 3 pound for pound boxers on the planet, respectively, and each is coming off a high profile victory.
Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) dominated and stopped Chad Dawson, the reigning Light Heavyweight champion, on September 8, and Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KOs) won about 34 of 36 minutes in his fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on September 15, before being caught and needing to survive a tense final round.
Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao? That was so 2010, man.
If the two of them ever got it together to make a fight, it would still do huge business, but it won't have near the significance or profile it would have had before. As everyone warned, if they waited too long, they would miss their window of opportunity. In my mind, that has clearly happened, and today, Ward vs. Martinez is the single bout that fans should be clamoring for.
Ward vs. Martinez
The time to make the Andre "S.O.G." Ward vs. Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez fight is right now. Martinez was a late bloomer, and will turn 38 in February. Both Ward and Martinez are coming off their most high profile victories, and have more exposure than at any other point in their careers.
Ward is the undefeated Super Six champion, and he's the only U.S. boxer to win gold in the last four Olympiads. He's cleared out the Super Middleweight division with victories over Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler and Arthur Abraham, and by besting Dawson, has established himself as the de facto number 1 guy at that weight as well.
Martinez has exploded to prominence over the past several years, and in fact, has followed a very similar timeline and career path as Ward has since the end of 2009. He took the Middleweight championship from Kelly Pavlik, scored a Knockout of the Year against Paul Williams, and has gone about his business sending challengers by the wayside since.
Ward vs. Martinez would be an absolutely fantastic fight, and a hard one to project. Martinez is very unorthodox stylistically, fighting with his hands down, and launching surprising counters from all angles.
This contrasts with Ward, who is really a vintage technician and a workman, refined and taken to the absolute highest level of the craft. He doesn't have exceptional speed or power, but he has rock-solid fundamentals, soaring ring I.Q., and an innate ability to take away the best thing that his opponent has going for him. He can outbox you, rough you up on the inside, and if the opportunity is there, break you down.
The only issue here is the size discrepancy between the two men. Martinez is the Middleweight champion, but still views himself as a Junior Middleweight who has moved up not out of necessity, but because he could. Ward fights just one weight class higher than Martinez, but it's only a matter of time before he moves to Light Heavyweight, and perhaps beyond.
The two sides would need to agree to a catch-weight. Considering that neither man shies away from a challenge, and each is looking for the highest profile fights possible, that seems like a workable issue.
Let's make it happen.
Sources: HBO, Espn.com/Boxing, Yahoo! Sports, Boxrec.com
Jake Emen runs the boxing news website ProBoxing-Fans.com. You can find more of his writing, along with interviews, rankings and breaking news stories at the site, or you can follow ProBoxing-Fans.com on Twitter, @ProBoxingFans.