Middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez may be low on legitimate challengers at 160 pounds these days, but one fighter that appears very unlikely to land the bout is one of the more interesting. Dmitry Pirog and his team have been barking loudly for months now about Martinez and an alleged fear of fighting Pirog, while Martinez's promoter Lou DiBella has said flatly that Pirog is worth no money and needs to get more American name value.
The two camps are at it again right now, as Pirog's team is claiming that Martinez is avoiding the fight:
"The question here is not even the millions of dollars involved. If we offer them $6 million, they would find other excuses. Why should he fight Piorg when he can face two boxers where his victory is guaranteed, for the same money [combined with both fights]. We are ready to fight with everyone, and even with Martinez if he gives us the nod."
DiBella didn't let this stand for long before he responded. From Rick Reeno:
"Pirog and his promoter are just desperate for attention. There was no counter-offer because they said the best they could do was $3 million. And we would never travel without U.S. TV to some town in Russia for any amount of money. ... [T]he more they continue to talk, the less likely it's going to happen."
DiBella suggested again that Pirog face Peter Quillin, which honestly isn't the worst idea, except, you know, Quillin isn't going to Russia, and Pirog and his team seem content to talk and then stay in Russia where they face boxers with victory guaranteed for the same money they might get to fight Quillin, but oh whoops! Jeez.
I do think Martinez vs Pirog is arguably the most interesting potential fight at 160 pounds, and it's not that I don't want to see it. It's just I think Pirog's side is quite as interested as they might seem. It's not like Team Martinez is really concerned about the American name value of opponents -- Sergio's fights this year have been against Sergiy Dzinziruk and Darren Barker, a couple of guys willing to take the risk of fighting Martinez. I don't think Sergio would truly be less than a strong favorite against Pirog (whose record is no better than Barker's was, to be perfectly honest).
Either way, I fully expect Martinez to fight Matthew Macklin in March at this point, and if not Macklin, then Andy Lee.