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I'm not just a speed merchant, says Martinez

By Larry Fine

"All this year I have been training for this particular fight," world super welterweight champion Martinez of Argentina told reporters through an interpreter. "This Saturday, it will be a war."

Pavlik, a natural middleweight who stands 3-1/2 inches (9 cms) taller than WBC super welter champion Martinez, sounded a little surprised at Martinez's declaration about their scheduled 12-round showdown at Boardwalk Hall.

"I'm excited," the hard-hitting Pavlik said. "If it's going to be a war, I'm definitely going to be there."

The 28-year-old Pavlik is 36-1 with 32 wins within the distance.

Martinez, 35, who competed in soccer and in cycling before turning to boxing, is 44-2-2 with 24 stoppages.

Pavlik's trainer, Jack Loew, was skeptical about Martinez going toe-to-toe with his man.

"I'm glad he knows how to ride a bike, because he's going to be on one."

NIGHTMARE YEAR

Both champions have a lot to prove.

Pavlik is coming off a nightmare year, sidelined by problems stemming from a staph infection in his right hand that forced him to withdraw from a scheduled match against fellow-American Paul Williams.

Since suffering his only career defeat in a lopsided decision in October 2008 when he moved up in weight to fight 43-year-old Bernard Hopkins, Pavlik has made two mandatory defences against lesser opponents.

"I had to take those mandatory fights," Pavlik said. "This is a tough fight and we're prepared."

Martinez has a draw and a majority decision defeat from his last two bouts, though many observers thought he won both.

In February 2009 he had appeared to knock out former welterweight champion Kermit Cintron in the seventh round when the challenger was counted out by the referee. After lengthy consultations, it was ruled Cintron had risen before the count reached ten. The bout was judged a draw.

In December, Madrid-based Martinez moved up to middleweight to fight Williams, who claimed a majority decision.

"I'm not frustrated," the square-jawed Martinez said. "I will put in more effort this time to makes sure that no one can take away my victory."

Martinez said he had put on added muscle to fight Pavlik.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)