Martinez-Berchelt Purse Bid Hovers Over Salido Trilogy
Roman Martinez and Orlando Salido had a working date and a willing network. However, a deadlock on nailing down a location has threatened plans for what would be a third fight between the pair of super featherweights.
Talks have been ongoing between camps for the latest entry into their thrilling rivalry, with American cable giant Showtime having expressed interest in showcasing the fight. Apparently a deadline was in place as Puerto Rico’s Martinez – who currently hold the World Boxing Organization (WBO) super featherweight title – has been ordered to make a mandatory defense versus Mexico’s Miguel Berchelt.
The fight was ordered shortly after the Christmas holidays.
“Please be advised the parties have five days to negotiate an agreement for the WBO Jr. Lightweight Championship bout between Román “Rocky” Martinez vs. Miguel Berchelt,” WBO President Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcarcel informed both camps. “If an accord is not reached within the time frame, a Purse Bid will be ordered on January 8, 2016 at the WBO Headquarters.”
The time frame has come and gone, with the fight now heading to said purse bid hearing. It’s hardly surprising as it involved the same times involved in the ultimately stalled Martinez-Salido talks. Martinez is promoted by Puerto Rico Boxing Best Promotions and was represented by the company’s vice president, Peter Rivera.
Berchelt fights for Zanfer Promotions, which has also represented Salido for most of his career.
Martinez (29-2-3, 17KOs) is currently in his third tour as a WBO super featherrweight titlist. His first reign began and ended in United Kingdom, claiming the belt in a 4th round knockout of Nicky Cook in March ’09 on the road in Manchester, England. Two successful defenses followed before dropping a 12-round decision to Ricky Burns in Sept. ’10 in front of a partisan crowd in Glasgow, Scotland.
Burns vacated the title in moving up to the lightweight division, with Martinez regaining the strap in a close, debatable points win over Miguel Beltran Jr. in Sept. ’12. A far more controversial 12-round draw with Juan Carlos Burgos just four months later made for his lone successful defense before suffering a 9th round knockout at the hands of Miguel ‘Mikey’ Garcia in Nov. ’13.
The loss to Garcia was met with thoughts of calling it quits, but opted to return in Dec. ’14. A tune-up win was enough to put him in position for yet another title shot, coming up aces in his first fight with Salido last April in Puerto Rico. The bout was a war and also a tale of two fights, with Martinez jumping out to a strong start before Salido – who’d claimed the vacant title seven months prior – rallied hard down the stretch, only to come up short in the end.
As thrilling was their first fight, the rematch proved just as entertaining – if not more so. It was among the high points of a loaded September 12th undercard that preceded a predictable 12-round shutout of Floyd Mayweather over Andre Berto.
Perhaps almost as predictable was Salido being shortchanged by the judges in a savage 12-round war most observers felt he deserved to win. The ringside officials disagreed, as Martinez retained his title via split decision draw. The sequel was both thrilling and inconclusive enough to warrant a third fight, with Showtime all the way on board to televise the bout.
Early plans called for a potential tripleheader to be staged in Puerto Rico, with the concept of pairing up the fight with fellow Boricua and super featherweight titlist Jose Pedraza and mandatory challenger Stephen Smith, along with one more title-relevant and island-centric matchup. Those plans never unfolded, but also didn’t discourage the cable outlet from wanting to still showcase the fight.
That part apparently never made it back to Rivera, who attempted to use the desired location as leverage. Salido and his team were insistent upon the fight taking place anywhere other than Puerto Rico – naming Chicago, Las Vegas, Texas or even Puerto Rico-friendly New York City as acceptable alternatives. Rivera and PRBBP refused to budge, likely due to the fact that there always existed the back-up plan of a mandatory defense.
That decision now allows Berchelt (28-1, 25KOs) to enter the title picture.
The 24-year old from Merida comes in riding a seven-fight win streak – all by knockout – following the lone loss of his career. Offsetting his TV-friendly style, however, is his lack of notable wins.
Berchelt’s lone defeat came in a 1st round knockout versus unheralded Luis Flores in March ’14. A right hand, left hook combo was enough to put him on the mat and separate the then-unbeaten 22-year old from his senses. Efforts to make it to his feet were met with enough of a drunken stumbled to where the fight was halted without another punch being thrown.
His team has since bombarded the press with what seems like daily updates of his career development. While their efforts to keep him relevant are to be applauded, the opposition he’s since faced suggests the path of least resistance in reaching a title fight.
With that, Martinez has a less desirable fight lined up, assuming there are any takers at Friday’s purse bid hearing in San Juan.
“The minimum acceptable bid for the Jr. Lightweight division is $150,000.00 (One Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars),” Valcarcel reminds both parties, in the event either or both wish to place a bid to secure rights to the fight.
It remains to be seen if the investment made into said fight justifies the power play that drove a third fight with the more deserving Salido out of the picture for the foreseeable future.