Still Waiting: Sandor Martin is ready to take Devin Haney’s belt

WHILE we all discuss the degree to which Devin Haney, Bill Haney and everyone else was shocked by the performance delivered by Ryan Garcia on Saturday night (April 20) in Brooklyn, try sparing a thought for Sandor Martin when you get a chance.

Second only to Devin Haney in terms of the impact generated by Saturday’s shock, Martin, ranked number one at super-lightweight with the WBC, had, like us all, fully expected Haney to do his job on Saturday and retain his belt ahead of fighting him, Martin, in the summer. This belief was then only solidified by what the Spaniard saw and heard from Garcia in the days and weeks leading up to the fight, making the possibility of an upset something he had not even considered. In fact, as far as Martin was concerned, it was a done deal; both the Haney vs. Garcia result and the identity of his next opponent. All he needed on Saturday was confirmation of what he already knew.

“I think the whole world expected Haney to win,” Martin said to Boxing News. “It was an 80/20 fight for Haney, on paper, and Garcia wasn’t on his level. But in the ring Ryan Garcia smashed Devin Haney.”


That’s certainly one word for it. Dropped three times (in rounds seven, 10 and 11), Haney was indeed smashed repeatedly by Garcia’s left hook, particularly when throwing his own jab, and, as a consequence, carried on his face the expression of a man utterly shocked by what he discovered; an expression worn by many watching both at Barclays Center and at home.

“It was an incredible fight and incredible performance from Ryan Garcia,” said Martin. “I think two things: one, if all of that was real (before the fight), he has a very serious problem in his mind. But if it was all fake, Ryan Garcia is a very good actor. My coach said, ‘Wait on Garcia, because maybe he is in better form than people think.’ And that’s really important to remember. He had all the cards and he made a very good plan.

“Garcia put on an impressive show, but I am really disappointed with Haney. Nobody expected Ryan Garcia to be in this form and Devin Haney was the favourite. But boxing is so difficult and unpredictable. Garcia played his cards so good. He played with Haney’s mind and then did some very good work in the ring. I respect him for this.”

Ryan Garcia wobbles Devin Haney (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Much of the disappointment Martin feels regarding Haney surely owes to how Haney has managed to complicate what was once a seemingly straightforward situation. Now, after all, because Haney lost to Garcia, but retains his belt on account of Garcia’s failure to make weight, a contender like Martin presently has no idea where he stands in the pecking order. On the one hand, he still considers himself next in line, and assumes Devin Haney, despite the defeat, will honours this and become his next opponent. But this hope is weighed down by a far greater belief that Haney will want to fight Garcia again and that this rematch, if it happens immediately, is unlikely to take place at 140 pounds. This, for obvious reasons, leaves Martin out in the cold, once again watching from the sidelines.

“Now I don’t know (what happens). It’s so strange now,” he said. “Devin Haney lost the fight but continues with the belt. Okay. But now will Devin Haney fight me for the WBC belt? I don’t know. If he doesn’t continue with his belt, the WBC and (WBC President) Mauricio Sulaiman need to say something about this situation.

“Ryan Garcia has said he won’t fight at 140 pounds, so I need another official challenger to fight for the title. Ryan Garcia told everyone he can’t make 140 pounds, but maybe that’s just another crazy idea of his and he is playing tricks again. Maybe he can make that weight. For me, the most important thing now are the conversations between my managers, Salvatore Cherchi and Christian Cherchi, and Mauricio Sulaiman. They need to come up with a solution in this case. I am waiting for my opportunity and ready to take the belt.

“It’s only fair that I fight for the title and that’s what I want. Winning the belt and becoming world champion is my goal in boxing. For me, and my team, and my country, and my family, that is so important. Becoming world champion helps the boxer get a better future. To achieve this, I will fight the best at 140 pounds. I will fight Subriel Matias, I will fight Devin Haney, I will fight Ryan Garcia, I will fight Isaac Cruz, and I will fight Teofimo Lopez again. It’s one of the best divisions in the world and I want to prove I am the best fighter in this division. I only need the opportunity to shock the world again. I shocked the world against Mikey Garcia and I shocked Teofimo as well. Now I just need another opportunity for the belt. Then I will do the rest.”

Martin, 42-3 (15) as a pro, returned to the ring in December with a third-round stoppage of Mohamed El Marcouchi in Torino, Italy, and felt all the better for it, he says. He has also remained in the gym ever since that fight, knowing his chance to challenge for the WBC title, this opportunity he has wanted for so long, should, in an ideal world, be just around the corner.

“After my last fight I continued training because I know the situation and my status in boxing,” he said. “I am waiting for the world title.

“For me, it’s a mistake if you need a fight to train. You need to stay focused at all times, so that is what I am doing. I spend all the days of my life at the gym. I put myself in the gym to become a better fighter and increase my boxing skills.

“I was so happy (with my last fight) because I recovered sensations and some momentum. When I fought previously, I didn’t have the good vibes. I like to be in better form in the ring and I felt that in December. I was so motivated and ready to fight the world champion next.”

Sandor Martin seemingly outboxes Teofimo Lopez (Al Bello/Getty Images)

At 30, Martin finds himself in a tricky position. He is, to all intents and purposes, entering his physical and fighting prime and will therefore no doubt be conscious of wasting so much of a day waiting around for decisions to be made by other people. Yet, equally, when so close, he knows that taking another fight in the interim will run the risk of blowing everything he has worked so hard to gain.

“I don’t contemplate another type of fight at this moment,” Martin admitted. “I want to fight for the world title next and the WBC needs to give me that chance. I don’t have a problem fighting anyone in any part of the world, but I need to make the first step. This first step is getting the opportunity and becoming champion with the WBC.

“In four or five years, maybe I am a different type of boxer. The most important thing is accomplishing my dreams, which started here in Spain. That is so difficult. People don’t understand how difficult it is having that dream in Spain. Maybe if I was born in a different country, I would have had an easier route to a world title. If you are born in the USA, you have more contacts and more of a chance to become world champion and have a good career. Here in Spain, it is much more difficult. That is why I am so proud. I am proud of my work in the sport of boxing. A lot of these world champions, if they had been born in Spain and lived here, they wouldn’t be a world champion.”

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