COMMENTARY | Nothing lasts forever and in the world of big-time prizefighting, where everything could end with one single punch. Even the greatest of champions are fighting on borrowed time.
Whether it's from age, accumulated punishment, or out-of-ring distraction, every champion's time at the top will eventually come to an end.
Here's a look at five current world champs who are in the very last stages of their championship reign:
The 38-year-old Martinez was a late bloomer in the sport of boxing and will likely have a shorter than normal run at the top for a pound-for-pound fighter. Chronic injuries have plagued the undisputed middleweight champ recently and nearly cost him his title last April against Martin Murray. Now, in the middle of what appears to be a one-year layoff to help heal an injured knee and hand, Martinez, has plans to return to the ring at some point in 2014. The 39-year-old Martinez will then be faced with the unenviable task of facing fresh and hungry fighters such as Gennady Golovkin and Peter Quillin.
At this point, it's almost foolish to count Bernard Hopkins completely out. The 48-year-old "Executioner" has had a better career post-40 years of age, than many fighters can hope to ever have. Still, this time the end is here for real and it's just a matter of time before the first-ballot Hall of Famer walks away or is retired. Should he beat solid European contender, Karo Murat this October 26 in defense of his IBF light heavyweight title, a tough Andrzej Fonfara awaits as the mandatory contender. Beyond that, two heavy-handed killers in Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev will also be looking for their chance to end the career of Hopkins, who turns 49 in January.
The UK's Barker is a solid fighter, decent fringe contender, but hardly built to be a dominant main stage player. His split decision win over Daniel Geale in August was a complete surprise, but the magic won't last. Barker is set to make the first defense of his IBF middleweight title this December against former world champ, Felix Sturm, in Sturm's German home turf.
Puerto Rico's "Rocky" Martinez is in the tough spot of having something rising star Mikey Garcia wants. Martinez's second reign as WBO super featherweight champ may last no longer than November 9, when he's scheduled to defend his belt against Garcia. Martinez is a decent and respectable champ, but Garcia is a mega-talent and a star-in-the-making. The reasonable expectation is that Garcia will plow right through a game, but outgunned Martinez.
What happens to journeymen who manage to shock the world and become world titlists? Sadly, they usually lose in their next outing. Given that IBF junior featherweight champ, Martinez exists in the same division as Guillermo Rigondeaux, Nonito Donaire, and Leo Santa Cruz, the chances are pretty good that Kiko's Cinderella story won't last for long. Actually, it may end as soon as December 21 when the Spaniard must defend his title against former champ Jeffrey Mathebula.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and is the author of Notes from the Boxing Underground. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
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