Valentine’s Day Violence

By Francis Walker
Updated: February 1, 2009

NEW YORK — Valentine’s Day will be a little more violent this year.

One night after “Friday The 13th” hits movie theaters nationwide, Sergio Martinez (43-1-1, 23 KOs) defends his WBC interim junior middleweight championship against former welterweight champion Kermit Cintron (30-2, 27 KOs) in the main event of HBO Boxing After Dark card on Saturday, February 14, at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida.

In addition to Martinez-Cintron, Alfredo Angulo battles former two-division champion Ricardo Mayorga in a junior middleweight contest. Also, IBF/WBC and WBO lightweight champion Nate Campbell takes on mandatory challenger Ali Funika.

“Sergio Martinez has been anxious for the opportunity to build on his spectacular knockout win over Alex Bunema on HBO this past October,” DBE President Lou DiBella said in a statement. “Kermit Cintron is riding high again following his recent victory over [Lovermore] N’dou. It says a lot about the character of two great professional fighters when Sergio and Kermit are willing to put it all on the line against each other. Both guys want to be the best and neither one will pass up an opportunity to prove it!”

People talk about WBO interim 154-pound champion Paul Williams being the most avoided fighter in boxing. Martinez, however, can be mentioned in that same category.

Martinez has only one loss during his eleven-year professional career. It was a TKO loss to Antonio Margarito and it was also Martinez’ first fight in the United States – nine years ago.

Since then, Martinez, at 33 year-old southpaw, has achieved levels of success fighting exclusively in his native Argentina, Spain, and the U.K. Upon returning to the United States, Martinez defeated Saul Roman in April 2007 to become the WBC No. 1 contender.

Martinez has been ducked ever since.

Floyd Mayweather vacated the WBC junior welterweight title not long after he won it from Oscar De La Hoya the following month. Vernon Forrest defeated Carlos Baldomir to win the vacant belt and defeated Michelle Piccirillo in 2007, before he shockingly lost it to Sergio Mora June 2008 and regaining it in a dismal rematch in September.

Martinez, meanwhile, has stopped four of his last five opponents, including a decisive drumming of Alex Bunema to claim the interim tag.

Martinez was supposed to have fought “Mean” Joe Greene, but that fight was scrapped when Greene was diagnosed with having kidney stones after he was reportedly urinating blood.

Cintron, 29, Carolina, Puerto Rico, is more than a suitable substitute. He’s a former IBF welterweight champion. Cintron is a terrific puncher with power in both hands. Cintron, in his recent outing on November 15, won a 12-round unanimous decision against Lovermore N’dou to earn the IBF No. 2 spot.

But Cintron is mostly remembered for his two knockout losses to Antonio Margarito. Cintron has been criticized for not having the mental makeup of fighting hard through the face of adversity.

What keeps Cintron going is the fact that although he lost twice to Margarito, his conqueror was also successful against former WBA welterweight champion Miguel Cotto last summer.

However, with the ongoing investigation of the padded gloves and illegal hand wraps that Margarito was discovered for having prior to getting knocked out by Sugar Shane Mosley, the question is did Cintron or any other opponent of the Mexican fall victim to Margarito’s antics?

Is that a relevant debate?

What is relevant is whether Cintron can piece together his shambled image. He was once recognized as one of the top fighters in the welterweight division.

Campbell warns Funeka

Nate Campbell (32-5-1, 25 KOs) defends his versions of the world 135-pound championship against No. 1-ranked Ali Funeka (30-1-2, 25 KOs). Campbell was once regarded as one of the best fighters to have never won a world title until he beat Juan Diaz, a Mexican-American boxer/slugger, in Mexico City. Diaz was considered too young, to fast, and too explosive for the older, slower Campbell. But at age 36, Campbell took Diaz to school behind beautiful combinations and a pressing body attack at had Diaz gasping for air through twelve rounds.

The same boxing lesson that Campbell gave to Diaz, the champion is planning a perfect replica that he hopes would shut Funeka’s mouth.

“This was a basic training camp for me until I heard his mouth,” Campbell said at a press conference. “Now it’s personal. He’s got to pay the retail American price for his words, not the South African price. I’m going to hit this 6-foot-1-inch Funeka everywhere it’s legal and maybe where it ain’t if the referee turns his back. If he truly wants to win, he better be ready to fight, kill or die.”

Eying a potential fight with the Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz winner, Campbell had to vacant the WBA title.

Miguel Cotto & Kelly Pavlik look to rebound from losses

When Miguel Cotto was TKO’d by Antonio Margarito and Kelly Pavlik was beaten handedly by Kelly Pavlik, some said would spell the end of Top Rank, Inc.

Fresh of Manny Pacquaio’s stunning beating and submission of Golden Boy Promotions’ chief Oscar De La Hoya in December, Top Rank President Bob Arum is going to carry that promotional momentum into the careers of Cotto and Pavlik.

Looking to rebound from the first losses of their highly touted careers, Cotto and Pavlik will both be the featured main event of a split-site doubleheader.

“Cotto & Pavlik: Two World Title Fights – One Night!” will commence live on HBO Pay-Per-View on Saturday, February 21, from two separate locations.

Cotto (32-1, 26 KOs) will challenge Englishman Michael Jennings (34-1, 16 KOs) for the WBO welterweight title (vacated by Paul Williams) in the main event at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Although Pavlik lost a 170-pound catch weight fight to Hopkins in October, his middleweight titles weren’t on the line. Pavlik (34-1, 30 KOs) returns to 160 to defend the WBC/WBO championships in homecoming match against mandatory challenger Marco Antonio Rubio (43-4-1, 37 KOs) at the Chevrolet Center in Youngstown, Ohio.

Cotto and Pavlik are both young and strong enough to recover from their shocking and decisive losses.

John Duddy returns on Cotto-Jennings undercard

Ireland’s John Duddy returns to the ring at last. Thank goodness because, as exciting as Duddy’s fights are, how many John Duddy marathons are MSG going to pull out of their archives without leading to any upcoming Duddy fights?

Duddy (25-0, 17 KOs) returns to the ring for the first time in one year when he battles Matt Vanda (39-8, 22 KOs) of St. Paul Minnesota in a 10-round middleweight fight.

Duddy’s career was stalled after he became engaged in a lawsuit with his company Irish Ropes Promotions ran by Tony and Eddie McLoughlin. Irish Ropes were believed to have been robbing Duddy of thousands of dollars from fight purses.

To make a long story short, as told by longtime boxing scribe Tom Hauser, the McLoughlin’s would act as both manager and promoter but negotiate separate deals to work with an outside promoter on Duddy’s fights. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Also, Duddy became suspicious after he went from being offered $1.5 million to fight Kelly Pavlik for the world middleweight championship to being offered purses of $20,000 to fight Sam Hill and only $75,000 to fight unbeaten middleweight prospect and Ronald Hearns on HBO.

In addition, Duddy was rumored to fight Verno Phillips for the IBF 154-pound title for a substantial amount of money that would have doubled the purses he would have gotten for Hill and Hearns combined.

Things simply didn’t add up because, Duddy, a major ticket-seller at Madison Square Garden and is immensely popular in Ireland, felt he was getting short changed and was right.

Pending a lawsuit against the McLoughlins, Duddy is able to resume is fight career.

The undercard

The Cotto-Jennings undercard will also feature undefeated lightweight prospect and future world title challenger Anthony Peterson (28-0, 19 KOs) of Washington, D.C. will be featured in a 10-round attraction. Russian Olympian and four-time Russian National champion Matt Korobov (3-0, 3 KOs) will compete in a four-round middleweight bout. Also, unbeaten female lightweight Maureen Shea (13-0, 7 KOs) of the Bronx, NY, will be in action.

Pacquaio vs. Hatton ticket information

Tickets for the upcoming mega fight between Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton went on sale on Friday. Pacquiao and Hatton are scheduled to meet in a 12-round bout on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV.

Tickets for the event range from $150 to $1,000 with certain restrictions.

For more information, contact Ticketmaster at (702) 745-3000. Tickets also are available for purchase at and .

Pacquiao-Hatton will also be available on HBO Pay-Per-View at a suggested retail of $54.95.

New York Commissioner a supporter of MMA

When Melvina Lathan was appointed by Governor David Paterson to replace Ron Scott Stevens as the New York State Athletic Commissioner, she became the only woman to have ever been appointed to that position.

Ms. Lathan, a highly creditable and most respected boxing judge for more than 20 years, knew that she’d have to do something groundbreaking and memorable. Thankfully, for the benefit of New York State and Sports/Entertainment, Ms. Lathan is cracking the whip and using her authority accordingly.

Ms. Lathan is pushing for Mixed Martial Arts to be legalized in New York State. It would generate millions of revenue for the state and bring New York out of the stone age of being a boxing town. New York will officially become an all-around fight town and will prove to be a big market for MMA.

Lathan and her supporters will face lot of opposition, in particularly from the boxing community. The bill to legalize MMA must be approved by the New York State Senate and Governor Paterson.