SAN DIEGO – March 18, 2012 – Matthew Macklin did his Irish and Irish-American fans proud in New York City on St Patrick’s Day. But at the end, power and skill overwhelmed heart and determination as Argentinian Sergio Martinez stopped Macklin at the end of the 11th round with a pair of tremendous straight left hand shots to the head.
The two questions raised after the fight are these: Can Sergio Martinez claim to be the best southpaw fighter ever, in the same league as his fellow middleweight and nickname namesake, “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler?
And who’s next for Martinez? Will it be Julio Caesar Chavez, Jr.? Or will it be the marquee fight Martinez has long looked for and deserves against Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather?
For the first half of the fight with Macklin, 29, the answer to these questions might have all been no. Macklin started well, slowly getting a foothold by smartly pressing a cautious Martinez, 37. He landed several good punches and continued to rally to the delight of the overwhelmingly Irish crowd of 4,600-plus.
In the seventh round, Macklin combined a punch and tying up Martinez’ feet into a knockdown and a standing eight count. It was a knockdown by the slightest description. Macklin may have gained a point and won the round, but he also awakened the beast in Martinez. At the end of the round, Martinez was seen yelling at Macklin. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.
By round 10, Martinez was dominating Macklin, and ended the round with a wild flurry in which Martinez’ mouthpiece flew out and he fought the last 15 seconds without it.
Martinez knows how to bring the drama, and delivered a classic 11th round. He dropped Macklin with two similar punches, powerful, by-the-book straight lefts with perfect technique backed up by sheer force. The second was more crushing than the first, coming just before the bell. Macklin made it to his feet and back to his corner, but his trainer Buddy McGirt asked referee Eddie Cotton to stop the fight before the final 12th round.
Martinez was exultant, springing up from his corner when he learned it was all over. While Martinez is known for being a late round fighter, he clearly knew he was in danger of losing the fight if he didn’t take Macklin down. As it turned out, Martinez was leading by four points on two scorecards after 10 rounds, but judge Julie Lederman had the fight dead even, 103-103. Martinez is simply too smart and tough to allow himself to lose.
Martinez now is 48-2-2 with 28 knockouts; Macklin’s record falls to 28-4.
Macklin said he thought he had good momentum and was in the driver’s seat, but as it got to be a more intense fight, he slowed and started feeling heavier on his feet, moving his head less. Macklin said he would never ever have quit, but his trainer insisted and he said he had to trust him.
Martinez said, “It was just like cutting a tree, little by little… but eventually the tree comes down. And that is exactly what happened.” Martinez said he saw Macklin open up his guard and he went for it.
Just before 1 a.m. Eastern Time, Martinez posted to his Twitter account @maravillabox: “Estoy perfecto y orgulloso. GRACIASSS/// I am perfect and very proud. Thanks!! ”
So the big question today is who will fight Martinez next. Martinez says wherever he goes and whoever he fights next, he’ll wait, saying “I’m still a young man.” Despite being 37, he is right. Martinez is in phenomenal condition with terrific stamina, perhaps based on his foundation as a soccer player and not taking up boxing until age 20. He has 10 years less pounding on his body than most fighters the same age.
The opponent many people want to see Martinez fight is WBC champion Julio Caesar Chavez, Jr., who holds the title belt Martinez should rightfully own. But Chavez had trouble making weight at 160 in his last fight, and ballooned up 21 pounds to 181 by the time of his fight, which is ridiculous.
At the other end of the spectrum, according to a report in BoxingScene.com, word is that Martinez’ promoter Lou DiBella would agree to an 80-20 revenue split and a weight of 150 for Martinez to face off against Floyd Mayweather.
Even 20 percent of a Mayweather fight would be a big payday for Martinez. But the weight issue seems problematic. Martinez fights best at 154, the same weight for the Mayweather fight with Miguel Cotto on May 5. Why not fight Martinez at the same weight? Otherwise, if Mayweather wins there will be a big question mark in the minds of fans.
But a fight with Mayweather is so attractive to Martinez that he may be willing to agree to just about anything to raise his visibility. For all his skill in the ring, and his admirable humanitarian work against bullying and domestic violence outside the ring, Martinez is not a household name like a dozen other boxers. It’s a shame, because he is fun to watch, skilled, and a true gentleman of the sport. A Mayweather fight would put him on the map.
In the undercard fights, Edwin Rodriguez held off Donovan George with a 10-round unanimous decision. Rodriguez was the faster, smarter fighter. George, known as a brawler, tried to be more of a boxer but the style didn’t suit him well and he couldn’t make much headway against Rodriguez, who landed a third more punches than George. The crowd wasn’t pleased by the slow nature of the bout. Rodriguez is now undefeated at 21-0; George is 22-2-1.
Sean Monagham won a unanimous decision over Eric Watkins.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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