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Sergio Martinez: Strong amateur boxing programs are needed to fix the sport of boxing

HBO Sports
(As they brace for their middleweight clash on Sept. 15, middleweight kingpin Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. give their opinions on the fight game in Q&A sessions on Yahoo! Sports.)

Wed., Aug. 29 – Sergio Martinez
If you were given the power to fix the sport, what would be the first thing you would change?

I would first make sure there is a strong amateur program that caters to younger fighters looking to get into the sport of boxing and provide them proper training. More often than not, especially in Spain and the United States a lot of the younger athletes tend to gravitate more towards [soccer] and basketball. They have better amateur programs than boxing and there could’ve been some great fighters that never stepped in the ring because the amateur programs in other sports were far superior.

The heavyweight division is diminished in America because there isn't a proper amateur program. Most of the great heavyweights now are coming from eastern Europe, and they are excellent fighters. They have the proper amateur training and schooling and support. In America, most of the large fighters that would be great heavyweights are being groomed to play American football and basketball.

Wed., Aug. 29 - Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Julio, you became a professional fighter at a relatively late age and without any amateur experience. What factors helped mold that decision? Was your father in favor of you becoming a professional fighter? And how has your father helped you since making your professional debut? Has your relationship with your father changed since becoming a professional fighter?

I was not sure I wanted to be boxer at first and started working out during late 2002 and early 2003 I lived in the United States in Riverside, California and when I went back home to Culiacan, I went to my father's gym and told my uncles I wanted to be boxer. We did not have an amateur program so I just jumped into the professional ranks. If I had to do it all over again, I would have started in the amateurs to learn more, it was hard being a professional without any experience and it really was difficult to learn to fight in the professional ranks. It a lot tougher than I expected.

My father did not want me to fight and my mother did not want me to fight. My father made a deal with my grandmother and she said she would let me have 10 professional fights and if I lost one that would be the end of it. I made the same deal with my father, so when I went undefeated after those 10 fights he had no choice but to let me continue fighting and from then on he has supported my boxing career.

Having my father with me in training is like having a master at your side. He will correct me and will give me advice, but he lets my trainers do their work. He just wants me to do the things right and is always talking the importance of good preparation. He is always saying that fights are won in training and that if are your well prepared, the fights will be easy.

We have become more like friends. I know that he is my father and I do respect him, but when we talk boxing now it is as equals and that has made our relationship much better. He has also cleaned up his act and that makes him more enjoyable to be around and keeps me more focused on my career. He deserves a lot of credit for the victory I will claim over Martínez on September 15.

Chavez Jr. vs. Martinez takes place Sat., Sept. 15 live on HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT.

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