Orlando Magic would love to be in the position that promoter Lou DiBella is in
right now, as it relates to theirstar
center, Dwight Howard. A
year from now, they’ll have no idea if Howard will remain with the franchise as
he heads into free agency. DiBella, on the other hand, doesn't have to worry
about middleweight champion Sergio Martinez taking his talents anywhere else,
as he agreed to terms with his company on a new promotional pact that covers a
minimum of six fights over three years.
At age 36, it will most likely be the last
promotional contract he ever puts his name on.
"The way the contract is drafted, it's likely
to take him through the end of his career," DiBella told Maxboxingon Thursday afternoon.
When asked if other entities were starting to
sniff around or attempting to poach “Maravilla,” DiBella stated, "The
scuttlebutt was that his contract was running out in February but his contract
was not running out till June and beyond June, he had a 60-day exclusive
negotiation period where I had a right to match. So in effect, we had over a
year on the contract but the people that were making a run on him did not
realize that and thought there was far less time. And when people are dangling
craziness and are attempting to disrupt relationships, you're better off
putting that to bed and putting it to rest as quickly as you can. I believe it
was never Sergio's intention to go elsewhere from [adviser] Sampson Lewkowicz
"So we used this opportunity to re-up with
DBE and he's very happy with the deal that was made and obviously for my
company and for me, it's a wonderful deal and a great relief, frankly."
DiBella came into the promotional side of this business
with a certain naïveté, perhaps not understanding the treacherous nature of the
industry that exists on all sides. It's a dog-eat-dog world where only the
rules of absolute survival apply. There is no room for the soft-hearted or meek
and more than once, DiBella has been jilted by those he thought were loyal to
him. Martinez, to a certain degree, reaffirms his faith in those he has worked
"Y' know what, when something like this
happens, it does reaffirm your faith in some people," he admits, "and
I've always been a pro-fighter promoter and frankly, the people that write
about the sport, generally, and follow the sport, for good reason are
pro-fighter but they don't pay attention to a lot to the level of disloyalty
that often exists. This was refreshing; this was a guy that appreciated where
his career has gone, where he was not too many years ago and certainly that
stuff being dangled in front of him, that I could not have frankly matched. But
a deal was made; that's what Sergio wanted and obviously, it works for my
company and myself. This was a breath of fresh air.
"This is an unusual guy; I mean, he's a
real gentlemen and the other thing is, he's become a very astute businessman
and has a lot of businesses inSpainthat are
doing very, very well and he wasn't going to be enticed by a signing bonus that
someone would eventually steal back from him."
So now, DiBella and Martinez look to the future and
that means anOctober
1stbout is in the making.
"It's going to be Darren Barker; it looks
like and I believe it will be on HBO," said DiBella, who says that HBO's
approval of the Brit could come by Friday. "Frankly, we made another offer
to- at HBO's request- to Daniel Geale, who frankly, was another fighter that
Sergio wanted to fight to, in effect, unify- even though he doesn't technically
have the [W]'BC belt, we don't acknowledge [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr. as
champion- and we tried to make the deal with Geale but Daniel wants to make the
first defense of his title inAustraliaagainst
somebody of less danger than Sergio before he takes on a challenge like Sergio,
which I can understand. But right now, it's looking more and more like Barker
and I hope to have that wrapped up with HBO by tomorrow."
As for the venue, with the Nokia Theater inLos Angelesnot
available, DiBella says that it will "most likely" take place in
But while Geale has possession of the IBF title
belt, he is a virtual unknown to the boxing fans of America. Barker is equally
as anonymous and holds no major title to speak of. This announcement was met
with derision by boxing fans who expected more from the recognized middleweight
champion of the world. However, according to DiBella, Barker brings an
interesting backstory to the table and hardcore following that will journey to
America for him. "At least according to Eddie and Barry Hearn, he'll
travel more people to the States than Carl Froch or Amir Khan did. That remains
to be seen but it's also going to bring over the entire British media with Andy
Lee fighting on the card, which is also of interest to the British and Irish
Lee is expected to be paired up in a rematch with
Brian Vera on this card.
When asked about the possibility of not getting
HBO's blessing for this card, DiBella stated without hesitation, "We're
fighting October 1st, period."
Since taking over the reins of Martinez a few
years ago, DiBella has done an admirable job in maneuvering his career. He has
become a staple on HBO and has earned pound-for-pound status. On the flipside,
while Martinez says he's done everything HBO has asked of him- that might be
precisely the problem. For “Maravilla” to really get in the mix of the marquee
fights, he'll have to be more than just that guy who only fights twice a year
when HBO happens to have a slot open for him. In the aftermath of his
dominating victory over Sergiy Dzinziruk in March, Team Martinez saw promises
from HBO to return in the summer get continually pushed back into the fall.
While they have a point in calling out other
promoters (namely Bob Arum) who are reluctant to throw their fighters in with
Martinez, they themselves haven't done all that much to help their own cause.
Until Martinez is a more active, recognizable figure, who performs on larger
stages- not casino ballrooms that are half-empty- he'll continually be the guy
on the outside looking in.
"Well, I can tell you that he needs to stay
busy," DiBella concedes. "This is the prime of his career, so there's
no question that he's going to fight three times in the next 12 months- even if
HBO can't accommodate all three fights- he's going to fight three times in the
next 12 months. So he's going to fight more often; he has to. I also think
there are some good fights that are going to present themselves. We've talked
to Felix Sturm's people; they couldn't do the fight in the fall because of
their commitment to German TV but they can come to America in his fight after
next. Not after his fight against Matthew Macklin- which is in a few weeks- but
he has to do one more fight inGermanyand by
next year, he can come here.
"Geale is interested in the fight next and we
would be happy to go- for the right economic deal. When he gets his sh*t
together, we'd be happy to go toCancunto fight
When asked about the possibility of facing Barker
inEngland, where this event would be much more well-received,
DiBella answered, "We looked at going there; it doesn't work out because
of how late you have to go to go primetime on HBO and same-day delays suck,
anyways. So we were more than willing to go there and frankly, Sergio's fought
in England many times."
One of the quandaries that plagues Martinez is
that while he is Latin, in America, if you're not Mexican or Puerto Rican, it's
tough to establish a firm foothold in any region of the country. But boxing is
an international sport and this crew has to be creative in its approach.
DiBella doesn't disagree.
"Geale and Sergio can do a small stadium in
Australia; we're not going to Germany to face Sturm. That's because I've been
to Germany too many times," he said, chuckling. "But yes, there is a
possibility he could do sort of a European tour, particularly if there's a
third fight that can't be on U.S. TV."
Other possibilities are a rubber match with Paul
Williams, who faces Erislandy Laraon
July 9thbut DiBella makes
it clear that this time around, they have the economic leverage and there will
be no shenanigans imposed on them, such as catchweights.
Then there is the issue of one Dmitry Pirog, whose
supporters have inundated DiBella's timeline on his Twitter account. He
addresses that issue by explaining, "I mean, there's a lot of
factors; he doesn't bring one dollar to the table, none, zero. Two, there's a
certain point in time where a fighter has a right to say, 'I want to fight this
guy.' [Martinez] has fought everyone that's been put in front of him and not been
given any type of ability to select and he really doesn't want to fight for the
WBO, period. He thinks what happened with his title getting stripped, they
didn't give him a chance to make a decision to stay at '60 or '54 and they
stripped it, frankly, because they thought they were going to hand it to Danny
That first reason given to not face Pirog is
ironic on several fronts, given that it triggered a volcanic eruption from Mount
St. DiBella when Arum said something along the same line as it related to
Chavez Jr. facing Martinez. But hey, this is the boxing business; what comes
around goes around- when it's convenient.
DiBella continues, stating, "It's not anger
at Pirog, personally; it's just that he's not fighting for the WBO title.
Pirog's not Dzinziruk; he's not that level of fighter. His last defense was
absolutely dreadful, if anyone saw it. Here's the other thing and Sergio said this
succinctly the other night: if Pirog doesn't have that belt that they took off
of Sergio's waist, no one would be saying he should be fighting Pirog. Nobody.
And other than- and I've said this many times- I'm a boxing freak, myself,
so I like to satisfy the hardcore, but the hardcore with all due respect, they
may know who Dimitry Pirog is but no one else does. Here's the other thing we
said: go out and win a big fight. We were told to fight Dzinziruk; put
Dzinziruk in with Pirog. If Pirog can beat Dzinziruk, we'll fight [Pirog] down
"If he can beat a Paul Williams, if he can
beat a top-shelf guy, then he has some value when people really know who he