We know that Tarver went on to have a successful career following the first two fights, making the kind of money that eluded him prior, while Jones never went on to win another meaningful match. What we don’t know, of course, is where Martinez and Williams go from here.
Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez happens to reign over one of the worst weight classes in the sport, in terms of talent. He has little options. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess.
“HBO knows what a star is,” said Lou DiBella, who promotes Martinez. “He’s a star now. We’re going to look at all our options. It’s a matter of the money. Williams gave us the rematch, if down the line (a third fight) makes sense, we would give him the opportunity. I have to say, why the (expletive) would he want the rematch?”
Of course, boxers are a persistent bunch, if not stubborn. Jones later got his rubber match with Tarver, a bout in which he fought to go the distance, as if not getting stopped was a victory in itself. Smart money says that we will see Martinez and Williams do it again at some point, if for no other reason then there are no better options.
From here, if Martinez wants to defend his middleweight title without catchweights, the two leading options are undefeated Russian Dmitry Pirog and German Felix Sturm.
Pirog, 30, authored what was likely the knockout of the year prior to Saturday, a crashing right hand that shocked top prospect Danny Jacobs in July.
Sturm has competed outside Europe just once, a 2004 loss to Oscar De La Hoya in Vegas, in what was an absolute robbery. That fight would likely do big business in Germany and would brighten Martinez’s star worldwide. But if Martinez wants to truly be world renowned, he’ll likely have to move north to 168 or back down to 154.
Super middleweight is one of the very best weight classes in the sport, so it is not inconceivable that in a year or two Martinez could campaign at 168, where there would be plenty of exciting matchups. Lucian Bute, Andre Ward, Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham and Andre Dirrell to name a few. Of course, there is always the possibly that one or more of those fighters moves up to 175 by the time Martinez would want to move up in weight.
At 154, there’s Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito (who owns a victory over Martinez), Yuri Foreman, Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland (fresh out of prison). But how many of those fighters would really give Martinez a good fight? They all have a name fans know, but wouldn’t have more than a puncher’s chance, none in Foreman’s case.
For Paul “The Punisher” Williams, who has displayed an iron chin in the past, doubt will surround just how much this fight took out of him. A devastating knockout the likes of which he suffered is hard to bounce back from. Ask Jones. Jones followed up his victimization at the hands of Tarver with a far more brutal KO to Glen Johnson.
There was again much talk from Williams’ promoter Dan Goosen of him moving back down to welterweight. Might be a good idea. Now that he has been knocked out, maybe fighters will be more willing to compete against him at 147 this time around.
For now, the boxing world belongs to Martinez. This past Saturday, a man seized his moment at age 35. So while “Maravilla” is unlikely to be starring in any “Rocky” films, as he doesn’t speak English, he could become an athlete people fondly recall for years.
30 truly is the new 20 for this Argentine.