Almost 104 years ago three young men took shelter in the foyer of a dilapidated urban railway station in the Argentine province of Buenos Aires. An unexpected downpour condemned their game of football to a premature conclusion. As they stood gazing at the heavy raindrops dancing on the cast iron window sill they romanced at the notion of constructing a sports stadium nearby.
On April 27th an estimated 55,000 spectators will converge upon the Club Atletico Velez Sarsfield to witness the return of the province’s most popular sports icon. Sergio Martinez, the current WBC middleweight champion, has not enjoyed the luxury of home comforts since winning a 10 round contest over Francisco Antonio Mora way back in 2002.
On fight night a huge number of fight fans will disembark at Floresta train station. The excited mob need not stop to shelter in the foyer. The 101 year old venue is conveniently located only a short stroll from the train platform.
The stock of ‘Maravilla’ has not suffered despite his absenteeism. The decision to uproot his training base over a decade ago in search of boxing superstardom has paid dividends. His overseas achievements have not gone unnoticed in his homeland where he was deservedly awarded the accolade of Argentina’s Best Sport Star of 2012.
The 38 year old Oxnard resident is widely recognised as pound for pound material, with the highly regarded Ring Magazine placing him in 4th position. However the boxing forums are a knotted chain of conflicting opinions concerning the southpaw fighter. His unorthodox style is his trademark. The lack of amateur refinement has afforded him the freedom to invent his own version of the craft.
In less than two weeks time Martinez will climb through the ropes to meet St. Helen’s contender Martin Murray. The undefeated UK fighter will be eager to succeed where Barker and Macklin have fallen short.
Martin is a tidy boxer with a wealth of determination. He is being tipped to dethrone the kingpin by knowledgeable names within the sport, especially those based in the UK. Promoter Ricky Hatton has made comparisons to his own victory over Kostya Tszyu.
The general consensus stateside is that Sergio will delight his Argentine supporters with a convincing stoppage win. Admittedly rumblings to the contrary have been uttered by recognisable American accents since the fight was announced.
And so the middleweight contest is open to debate. Can Martinez pick up where he left off against Chavez Jr.? Will the expectations of the home crowd, the passing of father time and the accumulation of injuries from his last encounter all weigh heavy on the champion?
Or, can Murray make Argentina cry for him?