Sergio Martinez may get his shot at the WBC middleweight title this fall. (Photo by Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE)
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr is set to defend his WBC middleweight title against Andy Lee on June 16, and now an agreement is expected to be signed shortly that will have the winner obligated to face real middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. BoxingScene.com reports that September 15 is the tentative date for the fight.
Martinez's adviser Sampson Lewkowicz says that he is in Los Angeles waiting for Martinez to sign the deal, and that all other involved parties are expected to sign as well. If Chavez or promoter Bob Arum don't sign, then the WBC title will, Lewkowicz says, be vacated and Chavez vs Lee will be a non-title fight in El Paso.
Martinez vs Chavez has been building since last summer, when Chavez won the title the WBC stripped from Martinez by defeating Sebastian Zbik. The sanctioning body, the promoters, and HBO have all had a hand in making this entire mess possible. It was HBO who turned down Martinez vs Zbik, which was Martinez's mandatory fight, leading Martinez to give up the belt and face Serhiy Dzinziruk in February 2011.
Shortly after, HBO raised eyebrows by accepting Zbik vs Chavez for the same title belt, having never featured either fighter on their network in the past, outside of Chavez's rare appearances on HBO pay-per-view undercards.
The WBC has done the hokey-pokey with the fight since then, constantly guaranteeing Martinez that he would get a shot to reclaim the belt, but instead allowing Chavez to make voluntary defenses against Peter Manfredo Jr in November and Marco Antonio Rubio in February of this year.
Lee is also a voluntary defense, but one agreed to by the promoters. Lee, like Martinez, is promoted by Lou DiBella, and this will be his first world title shot. If he wins, DiBella will obviously have no trouble making a Martinez vs Lee fight. If Chavez wins, well, let's put it this way: Signed agreement or not, anything could still happen.
September 15 falls on the weekend of Mexican Independence Day, which is always a big fight weekend. Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer recently noted that Canelo Alvarez, whether he wins or loses on May 5 against Shane Mosley, will be fighting on the same date, so that could get interesting. If HBO wants both fights (and surely they would), would Top Rank and Golden Boy agree to work around one another and let the network essentially co-promote two of their cash cows, or would someone go to PPV and split a vital audience?