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Martinez raises profile with KO of Williams

Sergio Martinez appeared transfixed as the video loop kept showing his sensational second-round knockout of Paul Williams on Nov. 20.

Martinez smiled every time he saw himself leveling Williams with a devastating left hook. The WBC and WBO middleweight champion was in Las Vegas on Saturday to attend the fight card at the MGM Grand Garden and, as one of boxing’s hottest competitors, he wants to capitalize on his rising popularity.

“In a professional way, that fight changed my life,” said Martinez (46-2-2, 25 knockouts). “But outside the ring, I’m still the same person.

“In the past, some people looked past me. I don’t believe anyone underestimates me anymore.”

Martinez’s promoter, Lou DiBella, is planning on having him fight next in April, perhaps in Las Vegas. DiBella said he hopes the fight will air on HBO.

“His next fight is a big fight, no matter who he fights,” DiBella said. “People are going to tune in to watch the guy who delivered the big knockout of Paul Williams. Sergio wants to fight where the noise is; that’s either Vegas, Los Angeles or New York.”

And who will Williams fight? DiBella said Miguel Cotto was a possibility at 155 pounds but stressed that he isn’t calling out any opponent.

“We’re simply going to campaign for the best fights and showcase Sergio as a star in his own right,” DiBella said. “He’s refreshing. He’s good for boxing. He’s handsome, and now he’s going to be paid handsomely.”

■ TITLE SHOT LOOMING? — A big-money fight looms for Nonito Donaire against bantamweight champion Fernando Montiel in February in Las Vegas, probably at Mandalay Bay. But Donaire (24-1, 16 KOs) first must beat Volodymyr Sydorenko (22-2-2, seven KOs) on Saturday in Anaheim, Calif.

“There is a lot of pressure on this fight, and I don’t want to look past Sydorenko,” Donaire said. “That has been my motivation. I have to be at my best, or else I will never get past him and get to Montiel.”

Montiel (43-2-2, 33 KOs) is the WBC and WBO champion. Donaire, who fought as a bantamweight early in his career before winning world titles at flyweight and super flyweight, said he feels comfortable moving back up.

“I walk around at 118, so it’s no problem,” Donaire said. “Ultimately, I think I can fight at 122 and try to get some big fights there.”

■ MAGDALENO PREPS — Las Vegas featherweight Jesse Magdaleno has increased the intensity of his training for his second pro bout Saturday when he faces Manuel Ortega (1-3) in a four-round featherweight bout in Anaheim.

Magdaleno (1-0, one KO) has been working out at Barry’s Boxing with Sakhib Usarov, the WBO European bantamweight champion who is 15-0.

■ AUTISM WALK — Local fight manager Sonja Ewell is co-chairperson for the Autism Speaks 2010 Walk on Saturday at UNLV. Several local boxers, including heavyweight Roy McCrary, Billy Wright and former world champion Mike McCallum, are expected to participate.

The 2- and 3-mile walk will raise money for Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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