- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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After Gennady Golovkin's sick one-punch knockout of Matthew Macklin on a left hook to the body to retain his middleweight belt for the eighth time on Saturday night, much of the postfight news conference discussion centered on who GGG might fight next.
The most significant fight in the middleweight division would pit Golovkin against Sergio Martinez, the real 160-pound world champion. That's a fight that Golovkin and his team -- not to mention executives at HBO -- would love to make.
But there have been questions about whether Martinez would be interested in the fight. He is nearing the end at age 38, beset by injuries. and he didn't look good surviving through a tight decision win against Martin Murray in April in Argentina, Martinez's homecoming fight. Martinez struggled, got knocked down and hung on to win a debatable decision.
But Martinez wanted to clear up any confusion about his willingness to face Golovkin. He said Monday that, yes, he would be happy to fight Golovkin next year, as long as he gets one fight beforehand in his return from a knee injury.
"Sergio Martinez reached out to [adviser] Sampson [Lewkowicz] and me," promoter Lou DiBella told ESPN.com. "He said that history will show that he has embraced every challenge available to him in his career. His legacy will be that he was always willing to fight the best. Right now, his concentration is on healing and rehabilitation, and he will not fight until sometime in the first half of 2014. But he wanted to make it clear that he is willing to fight Gennady Golovkin."
Against Murray, Martinez re-injured the right knee that he hurt in his September win against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Martinez later had surgery and came into the fight against Murray with the knee not fully healed.
In fact, Lewkowicz told ESPN.com that Martinez probably will require a second surgery on the knee later this month. Surgery or not, Martinez won't fight until at least the spring. But after that, Martinez said Golovkin is very much in the picture.
"Sergio is going to back Spain [where had his knee surgery last fall] and probably will have another operation in the middle of July," Lewkowicz said. "If everything works out, he will be back in March or April for a fight, and after that he can fight Golovkin. It would be a big pay-per-view in September of . By that time, Golovkin will be a bigger name and we can make it a pay-per-view and both of them will get a well-deserved payday."
DiBella doesn't love the idea of making the fight, but said he would do it if it's what Martinez wants.
"Sergio was very clear to his team, myself included, that he is willing to fight Golovkin," DiBella said. "But right now he's hurt and concentrating on rehabilitation. He fought Murray hurt the whole fight. It was a gut check and an extremely painful experience. His next fight will not be scheduled until the first half of 2014, and it wouldn't make sense to make his first fight back against Golovkin.
"I feel protective of my fighter and I'm upset by people who rip him because they say he won't fight Golovkin. What the f--- are they talking about? Sergio is a great champion, so that pisses me off. He has never avoided anyone and wanted to make it clear he wouldn't avoid Golovkin. So in typical Sergio fashion, on the first business day after Golovkin's fight, he made it clear to us that he has no issue fighting Golovkin."
Lewkowicz said that Martinez told him he would embrace the fight.
"Sergio said he would toy with him for 12 rounds," Lewkowicz said. "He said, 'I want to prove I am the best and I will fight him.' But I won't let Sergio fight him with one knee or without another fight first. I am the adviser, and I advise him not to take GGG in the next fight. He needs to be 100 percent, not 99 percent.
"This guy is really tough, but you can't compare the quality of the opposition. GGG got a washed-up fighter in Macklin, after Martinez knocked him out [in 2012]. Many reporters say Martinez is afraid of Golovkin. It gets me upset. I love Martinez like my own son and I won't put him in when he is not 100 percent, but look who he has faced -- Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams, Sergei Dzinziruk, Macklin. He beat them all, and they were never the same after. K2 Promotions say they have GGG, but Lou DiBella and me, we have a fighter who is 'Triple-A.'"