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Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez (47-2-2, 26 Kos), the reigning WBC middleweight champion, has cemented his mark as an elite pound-for-pound fighter when he trashed former welterweight titlist Paul Williams almost a year ago with a 2nd -round stoppage in their rematch. Since then, Martinez has been having a hard time scoring big bouts worthy of his skills and fame, fighting only once against then undefeated WBO light middleweight titlist Sergei Dzinziruk, which Martinez took out in the 8th round last March 2011.

This weekend, October 1st, 2011, Martinez will take on undefeated Darren “Dazzling” Barker (23-0, 14 KOs) for Martinez’ WBC silver middlweight belt. Barker holds a string of European middlweight titles and is quite famous in his native homeland in the United Kingdom. But Barker, as impressive as he may seem on paper, is not some pugilist that Martinez may want for his career right now.

Sergio Martinez needs to cash in before Father Time catches up. The question is against whom?

Seriously, who is Barker?

At 36 years old, Martinez is running out of years as a prizefighter and is understandably looking for fights that could define his career as well as bring substantial cash into his bank account. Looking back, Martinez has shared the ring with some of the best and highly-touted fighters of his generation. Apart from Williams and Dzinziruk, Martinez traded leather with Antonio Margarito, Kelly Pavlik, and Saul Roman. While the fighters mentioned are not held in a high regard now as they were before, they were still legitimate opponents when Martinez got to them.

With time running out, Martinez is on the lookout for someone who can add more feathers to his cap. Unfortunately for him, the two best fighters active today are nowhere near his division – Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. Pacquiao, in particular, has been on Martinez sights for a while now. And in a recent statement, Martinez announced he is willing to drop to 150 pounds to face the Filipino superstar sometime next year.

While it is a tempting offer, Martinez knows the challenge carries a lot of pontential risk to himself. Losing as much as 20 pounds to get to 150 pounds is one thing; fighting someone who is comfortable at 150 is a whole new universe. From Martinez’ perspective, it is basically an ultra high risk-high reward scenario.

The same can’t be said for Pacquiao, who is scheduled to face Juan Manuel Marquez on November 12th, 2011.

The Filipino boxer has been dogged with multitudes of “catchweight” criticisms and accepting Martinez’ challenge won’t help the former’s case. Sure, the boxer from Argentina stands at 5’11 and possesses considerable amount of skill and power, one that can be a tough assignment for just about anyone. But a greatly drained Martinez will surely not be able to compete with Pacquiao. He will definitely be not at his best and certainly in no position to even give Pacquiao a hard time.

Will Pacquiao’s legacy be tarnished should he opt to fight Martinez after Marquez? It might or might not. But the one sure thing here is that there will be no glitters should Pacquiao sign that dotted line.

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Kenneth P. Ragpala is an award-winning sports blogger who has been covering the sport of boxing since 2008. His works have appeared in local newspapers in his home city in Cagayan de Oro and in several online publications abroad. Ragpala has written for several boxing websites, namely Fight Hype, 8 Count News, and Bleacher Report.