One way or another, it looks like the long-simmering non-battle between WBC junior middleweight titlist Vernon Forrest and interim titleholder and mandatory challenger Sergio Martinez will soon be finished.
Rick Reeno of BoxingScene.com reports that the WBC has sided with the Martinez camp, holding Forrest to an agreement he made in March, which stipulates that the two must meet no later than August of this year. If Forrest fails to comply, he will be stripped, and the "full" title awarded to the Argentinian.
Martinez has been waiting two years for his rightful shot, which is just absurd. He knocked out Saul Roman on a fourth round body shot on April 27, 2007, the bout being an eliminator for the full title shot. Forrest won the then-vacant strap on July 28 of the same year, routing former welterweight champ Carlos Baldomir over 12 rounds.
Since then, Forrest has defended against Michele Piccirillo, then lost the title to Sergio Mora before regaining it in a rematch last September, which was Forrest's last fight. He and Gary Shaw attempted to make a fight with Charles Whittaker (33-12-2, 21 KO), but the WBC said no. He had a recently-planned tune-up fight with Jason LeHoullier (21-1-1, 8 KO with zero credible wins and coming off of a loss) scrapped due to a rib injury.
There had also been talk of Forrest going up to middleweight to challenge either world champion Kelly Pavlik or IBF titlist Arthur Abraham, but nothing came of either rumor.
Forrest (41-3, 29 KO) still wants a tune-up bout, but given that he has three months, he's not going to get it. Martinez (44-1-2, 24 KO) last fought in February, when Kermit Cintron was gifted a terribly-scored draw against him in Florida. He hasn't lost a fight since 2000, when he was stopped in seven by Antonio Margarito.
I've said before that I genuinely don't think Vernon Forrest wants anything to do with Martinez, and many others have said the same thing. It's not a genius statement or hard to pull from the situation, but I do hesitate to say anyone is flat-out "ducking" anybody else. Martinez is a "cutie," a crafty southpaw that figures to give the 38-year old Forrest all kinds of stylstic trouble. There also isn't a ton of money in a fight with Martinez, who has made a lot of fans out of the hardcores that have watched him fight the last few times, but has no marquee name whatsoever outside of Argentina.
The good news is this'll all be over soon. The bad news is that it won't shock or even surprise me if Forrest decides to simply give up his title and not fight Martinez. I hope he fights, but I'm not convinced he will, even with the WBC ordering it to be done.