When Spain’s Sergio Martinez, 45-2-2 (23), entered the ring Saturday night at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall he was greeted with scattered boo’s. But when he left the ring he was greeted with cheers from his fans and respect from even the biggest Kelly Pavlik, 36-2 (32), supporters as he took the champions WBO/WBC middleweight titles. Martinez, the iterim light middleweight champion of the WBC was coming off a loss to Paul Williams in December in a non-title bout though losing what was part of possibly the fight of the year. I wrote days prior to the fight “Did Bob Arum pick the wrong opponent for Pavlik again?” I don’t get many right, but I sure nailed that one.
Pavlik has been asking to unify titles and Top Rank along with Pavlik’s manager Cameron Dunkin have not delivered! Pavlik may move up to super middleweight hoping he never see’s Martinez inside the ring again. For Martinez, promoted by Lou DiBella, though 35, has a bright future considering he fights out of Spain with the IBF and WBA champions fighting out of Germany, DiBella may make it happen.
Pavlik came right out after Martinez landing a combination to the head and I do mean one combination. Martinez was feeling out the ring of which he is a master of. In the 2nd round the smaller southpaw and Pavlik clashed heads opening a small cut along Pavlik’s left eye. This was never a factor in the fight. The southpaw Martinez showed he had no problem reaching the much taller Pavlik with a straight left hand. Unless you have seen Martinez, especially live, you may not appreciate this boxer’s command of the ring. In the 3rd round Pavlik was able to land enough to cause Martinez to go clockwise in trying to confuse Pavlik though usually into the power of a right hander against a southpaw.
Martinez dominated the 4th round with straight left hands having the cheering fans yelling “Kelly, Kelly” concerned. In the 5th round which was possibly Pavlik’s best winning on all three judge’s cards, he landed enough to cause swelling under the right eye of Martinez. At this point in the fight the challenger must have realized he would have to take his offense up a notch going out for the 6th round. This was a close round with Pavlik seemingly gaining the edge.
The 7th round was all Martinez up until pulling back avoiding a left hook only to be caught by a follow-up right uppercut dropping him. He was up immediately and complained it was a slip. Anyway you look at it Pavlik was credited with a knockdown by referee David Fields winning him the round. This writer had Pavlik ahead at this point by several points. In the 8th the fight took a turn in favor of Martinez who was landing enough straight left hands to cause a cut above the right eye of Pavlik that was bad enough it was never contained by his cut man. The blood came down freely masking half of Pavlik’s face with blood until the end. “The cut did cause me problems in seeing his left hand coming,” said Pavlik. You have to love his honesty and he has served as a good champ in and out of the ring with his humbleness.
Martinez continued to control the next two rounds. In the 11th despite Pavlik landing three straight right hands to the head at different times, he was not able to out land Martinez who seemed to have Pavlik in trouble at the bell. In the 12th and final round Martinez knowing he possibly lost the 12th round to Williams in the same city in December costing him the fight (in this writers eyes) he came out with no fear of Pavlik’s power hitting the champion almost at will.
With two of the officials being Latino’s there was no way Pavlik was getting a gift decision. The judge’s score’s were Barbara Perez 115-111, Roberto Ramirez 116-111 and Craig Metcalfe 115-112 all for Martinez. All three judges gave Martinez the last four rounds. So up until the 9th Martinez held a one point lead on two cards and even on another. The blood started flowing into the right eye of Pavlik in the 8th. Martinez simply has more energy than any boxer I’ve seen with the possible exception of Pacquiao. He has his hands to his side through the majority of the fight never standing still enough unless he is delivering at least a combination of punches. He makes it a point not to be flat footed or squared off for his opponent to get a solid punch delivered.
There is talk of Martinez dropping back to 154 to fight Margarito if he is successful in his comeback fight next month. Why in the world just because Margarito is the only other person besides Paul Williams to defeat Martinez would a person exiled out of boxing for a year be granted such a lucrative bout? Pavlik wants his title back. He didn’t say in a rematch so maybe this is the reason for Martinez dropping to 154 because only a fool would put Pavlik back in with Martinez. With a win rumors were Pavlik may move up to 168 and fight Lucian Bute the IBF super middleweight champ who was part of the HBO twin bill.
Philly’s Mike “MJ” Jones, 21-0 (17), easily defeated an overmatched Hector Munoz, 18-3-1 (11), of Alburquerque, who was coming off a knockout loss. What his management was thinking we’ll never know. Munoz posed no threat to Jones who fought a near perfect fight with hand speed and enough power to keep Munoz at bay though not coming close to a knockdown. This being for the NABA and NABO titles in the welterweight division and the 10th straight Latino Jones has defeated may move him a step closer to a fight for the title with Andre Berto’s WBC title if Jones can be moved from #17 to the top 15 which shouldn’t be any problem for those in power. Jones has not met any of the top 25 contenders in the organization and like Berto will probably be untested before getting a title shot.
It has been this writer’s opinion that Jones should be tested prior to and not in a title bout. This was an off HBO show but management felt it would be more people coming to the fight and exposure for Jones. Jones has all the tools with the only question his whiskers being he was knocked out in his last amateur bout. Only six of his seventeen stoppages were by knockout but like they say “speed kills”. Jones is a very likeable and hard working family man with a good management team of Doc Nowicki and Jimmy Williams. Jones is ranked #10 in the IBF and isn’t going to Europe to fight Jan Zaveck knowing only a knockout could bring back the title. Though ranked #6 in the WBA I cannot see Jones taking on a Mosley-Mayweather winner at this time. Same goes for being #11 by the WBO taking on Pacquiao. Jones is only 26 and in his fifth year so there is no rush waiting for the right “champion”.
Russian Matt Korobov, 11-0 (8) looked like he was going to blow out Josh Snyder, 8-5-1 (3), of Berlin, MD, until the 5th round when Snyder started landing some return punches on the unbeaten southpaw. Snyder is a game opponent and the experience was a good one for Korobov who is a good prospect.
Former heavyweight contender Dominic Guinn, 32-7-1 (22), of Hot Springs, AR, with former Olympic and WBA welterweight champion in his corner came out to impress early against trial horse Terrell Nelson, 8-10 (5), of Plainfield, NJ, dropping him just prior to the bell in the 1st round. He then went inside and got outworked until the 7th round when he landed a straight right hand and followed up with a left hook that had Nelson hurt. Though seemingly slightly ahead with one round to go the Nelson corner would not let their fighter continue complaining of a jaw injury giving Guinn the tainted win.
Jeremy Bryan, 13-1 (6), of Paterson, took every round going into the 8th and final round between light welter’s by moving and sticking Vincent Arroyo, 10-1 (7), Buffalo, before being drawn into a slugging contest. He was driven into the ropes with a double left hook with Arroyo following him and landing three more punches sending him to the canvas with what looked like two more while down on a knee for good measure. Bryan was counted out on his back at 1:43 of the 8th round by referee Sammy Viruet.
Ronald Hearns, 25-1, (19), Detroit, dropped an overmatched Delray Raines, 17-8-1 (1), Paris, AR, before stretching him with a second knockdown at 1:47 of the 1st round.
Chris Hazimihalis, 2-0 (2), of Campbell, O, impressed in dropping Ramon Ellis, 0-5, of Philly, who was stopped after an explosive flurry of close to a dozen punches without return while having his hands up in a defensive mode before referee Viruet jumped in at 1:28 of the 1st round stopping it. Ellis was upset at the stoppage having never been stopped. The Greek kid is out of the Pavlik stable.
Glenn Tapia, 6-0 (4), of Passaic, easily won every round from James Winchester, Reidsville, NC, 10-4 (3), dropping his opponent in the 2nd round. Winchester showed no quit in him hanging to the end.
Running out of air time Delaware’s Mike Tiberi, 12-1 (5) and Randy Campbell, 3-1, of O, were scratched.
On a sad note, famed Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler, suffered a minor stroke in Atlantic City and was released from the hospital. He will be scheduled Sunday for tests at the Cleveland Clinic. Our prayers are with this future Hall of Fame matchmaker.
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