Martinez Defends Title in Front of Sell-Out Crowd

By Steve Marzolf

Photo Credit: Will Hart
A sold-out crowd of St. Patrick’s Day revelers packed the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, and though the Irishman of the night didn’t walk out lucky, 4,671 green-clad boxing fans got what they came for: non-stop action ending in an impressive knockout.

Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KO’s) successfully defended his World Middleweight Championship title against the Irish (by way of Birmingham, U.K.) challenger Matthew Macklin (28-4, 19 KO’s), ending the night with a TKO in the eleventh round.

Fans Weigh In: Sergio in a Rout

Sergio Martinez - Photo Credit: Ed Ed Mulholland

For as long as we've been asking you to vote for fight predictions, we've never had such a one-sided result. Sergio Martinez pulled in 1310 out of 1419 votes in our Facebook poll, or roughly 12 times as many as Matthew Macklin received. That isn't to say you think Martinez is in for a walk in the park.  "I think Sergio will win but he will have to keep his hands up and fight a smart fight and be prepared for a tough/rugged tussle from Macklin. In New York, Macklin will be the favorite with all the Irishmen and Englishmen," S. Tyrone wrote on Facebook. On HBO.com V.Varricchio weighed in with a more specific prediction, "Should be back and forth action. See the fight being even throughout the first half. At the turn of the second Martinez will go into overdrive as Macklin slowly runs out of gas. Somewhere Martinez will go down most due to being off balance as seen in his previous fights. At the end of it all, Martinez by Decision."

Here's more of what you had to say:

  • Sergio will put a whoopin on this clown. Too smart, too fast, too athletic. The closest boxer we have to Roy Jones, Jr today - Matthew D. (Facebook)
  • Sergio martinez by 8-12 tko of macklin. It will be a good fight though. - @ArmandoRodrig87 (Twitter)
  • Martinez wins by decision. Macklin isn't a cake walk PLUS it'll be st. Patrick's day. Tough fight for Sergio. #MartinezMacklin - @emmanem88 (Twitter)
  • Macklin's style is a bit tailor made for Sergio, and we know Maravilla got the KO power, so this fight might not go the distance. Mathew's a resilient fighter though, and his work output may just make a fight out of this. And if he can stand Martinez' power, Sergio's in trouble...I still favor Maravilla to pull off a KO with that left bomb of his. – e.corales (HBO.com)
  • around the seventh i reckon when matthew runs outta gas, - Richard F. (Facebook)

Do you agree with the fans above, or is Macklin an underdog who’s about to have his day? Sound off in the comments.

Sergio Martinez: Not Just Defying Conventions, Battering Them

By Kieran Mulvaney

Sergio Martinez - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

Exhibit A: Sergio Martinez

Exhibit B: The image of a classic boxer. Hands held high, one slightly forward of the other, chin tucked.

Sergio Martinez, middleweight champion, does not fit the classic boxer mold. His stance is unconventional, his movements around the ring are unorthodox, and the road that brought him to the professional prizefighting ring in the first place is short on precedent. But in many ways it is precisely the combination of these outside-the-box elements that make the man from Argentina such a formidable foe.

He frequently keeps his hands low while alternately bouncing around hyperactively on his toes and standing flat-footed, staring at his opponent and bending slightly forward at the waist like a baseball pitcher on the mound, peering for an opening and simultaneously seeming to present a target of his own. The net effect of that is that sometimes he leaves himself briefly vulnerable and off-balance, allowing, for example, Paul Williams and Kelly Pavlik to score flash knockdowns that embarrassed more than they hurt.

At the same time, his stance frequently lures his foe into making an assault, at which point Martinez counters with rapid-fire punches from sometimes unpredictable angles which catch that foe unawares and, because of the torque with which the Argentinian unleashes them, frequently rob him of his senses.

So powerfully did he hit Kermit Cintron, for example, that the American staggered backward to the ropes and slumped to the canvas, protesting that the blow had to have been a headbutt; no way, he insisted, could a punch have been so hurtful and powerful.  After Williams had knocked an off-balance Martinez to the canvas in the first round of their first encounter, Martinez responded with a much harder blow that floored Williams with greater authority. When they met again, Martinez drew his opponent into the perfect range for a crunching, unseen left hand that relieved Williams of consciousness before he hit the canvas.

"Martinez drew his opponent into the perfect range for a crunching, unseen left hand that relieved Williams of consciousness before he hit the canvas."


When he doesn’t dispense of his foes early, as he did in the Williams rematch, Martinez is able to wear them down, landing with ever greater effectiveness as the fight progresses. Witness, for example, the increasingly emphatic knockdowns he inflicted on Sergiy Dzinziruk en route to an eighth-round stoppage last March, or the way in which he overcame stubborn resistance from Darren Barker before scoring an 11th round KO in October. That he is able to do so says much of his level of physical fitness, a trait that has its roots in cycling and soccer, both of which he pursued long before he set foot in a boxing ring for the first time at age 20.

Matthew Macklin will need to find a way to diminish that unconventional effectiveness if he is to take the middleweight crown on Saturday.

CompuBox Analysis: Sergio Martinez vs. Matthew Macklin

By CompuBox

It's funny how life works out. Had Matthew Macklin been awarded the decision many say he deserved against WBA middleweight titlist Felix Sturm last June, he might not have gotten Saturday's fight against Sergio Martinez, regarded by most as a top three pound-for-pound entrant and the rightful WBC middleweight champion. That's because unification bouts are so difficult to arrange politically and logistically. One could say that for Macklin, a short-term setback has yielded a career-defining opportunity that could reap untold fortune should he seize it.

Will the gritty Brit score the major upset or will Martinez take another step toward Canastota?  The oddsmaker’s overwhelmingly favor Martinez, who’s a 10-1 favorite.  Their CompuBox pasts provide these informational nuggets:

> Read more CompuBox analysis of Sergio Martinez vs. Matthew Macklin on HBO.com

Matthew Macklin: ‘I perform best on the big stage.’

By Richard Fletcher

Matthew Macklin

With your Irish roots, how does it feel to be fighting Sergio Martinez for the world title on St Patrick's Day at one of the most famous boxing venues in the world?

The scene is set. It's Madison Square Garden, St Patrick's Day. You couldn't make it any better. There's a bit of an omen. My first-ever amateur boxing match at the Grand Hotel, in Birmingham [England], was on St Patrick's Day in 1994. So it will be 18 years to the day.

Do you see this as your chance to gatecrash the big time?

I think so. I've said before that I feel I'm a fighter who performs best on the big stage, against a tough opponent. That's what brings the best out in me. I've had fights where I've been a big favorite, when I've won, but I've under-performed. But when I've gone into fights where they [the media] have thought I'm up against it, or they think it's gonna be a 50-50 fight, that's when I shine.

What did you learn from the Felix Sturm fight – which was lost on a highly debatable split decision -- that could help you in this bout?

I think I probably started a bit too quick. In terms of what's going to help me from a tactical point of view, it's not so great because the styles are so different. I think it's the confidence. Going into the Sturm fight, I had a 12-month period where nothing had really happened. I hadn't felt great. But I really enjoyed training for the Sturm fight and, on the night, I performed. I didn't get the decision, but I performed, I proved myself. I always believed in myself. I believed I was gonna win the Sturm fight, but I don't think anyone else did. As much as I'm the underdog in this fight, I was a bigger underdog in the Sturm fight because of current form. As a result of the Sturm fight, I'm considered among the top three or four middleweights in the world, so it's not such a [bad thing].

Has fellow Brit Darren Barker, who lost in 11 rounds to Martinez in October, given you any advice about the fight?

No. Me and Darren are rivals. There's no grudge thing, but we wouldn't be in touch about the fight. Darren's different to me, he's got different attributes, strengths and weaknesses. I'm not necessarily gonna fight him the way Barker did, even though I thought Barker did well. Styles make fights, of course, but I do feel I'm a better fighter than Darren Barker and can give [Martinez] a lot of problems.

What sort of fight are you expecting from Martinez?

He is not the most versatile of fighters. What he does is fairly constant. You know what you're gonna get. I don't think he's gonna come out, jump on me and start going to war. That's not how he does business. He'll come out with lots of lateral movement, move both ways, paw with the right jab, try and counter-punch me and bring me on to the back hand. I know what to expect. I think the fight will be tricky early on, but as it goes on it will become my territory.

Only a handful of Brits have won world titles in America. Can you join them?

To win a world title over here in America, especially on St Patrick's Day, I really can't wait. It has been done. Lloyd Honeyghan came over here and beat a pound-for-pound great in Don Curry [in 1986]. Upsets happen in boxing. Although I'm an underdog, I think I'm a fairly live underdog.

Macklin Not Avoiding Martinez

By Eric Raskin

Sergio Martinez, Matthew MacklinWith nearly 100 different “world” title belts floating around out there in various corners of boxing’s diamond-, super-, and interim-infused universe, unofficial titles that aren’t accompanied by belts have taken on increasing significance in recent years. One such title is the designation of “Most Avoided Man in Boxing.” It’s a label that’s debated among hardcore fans like the mythical pound-for-pound throne -- and brings similar pride to the fighter who wears it.

In the mid-2000s, Antonio Margarito was the near-unanimous choice for boxing’s most avoided fighter. When Margarito lost a close decision to similarly risk/reward imbalanced Paul Williams on July 14, 2007, “The Punisher” became the new poster boy for elite fighters who can’t find elite opponents. And when Sergio Martinez iced Williams on November 20, 2010 with a second-round left hand that earned a spot on boxing’s all-time desert island highlight reel, “El Maravilla” instantly transformed into the sport’s most avoided combatant.

But here’s what makes Martinez unique: He’s a legit champion of the world. He’s THE MAN at 160 pounds, and everybody knows it; he beat Kelly Pavlik, who beat Jermain Taylor, who beat Bernard Hopkins, who beat Felix Trinidad, William Joppy, Keith Holmes, and everybody else who mattered at middleweight at the start of the current millennium. Martinez has what everybody else (theoretically) wants.

Yet, somehow, only a select few are stepping up and trying to take it.

On March 17, Irishman Matthew Macklin will become Martinez’s fourth world-title challenger. Like Darren Barker and Sergei Dzindziruk immediately before him, he’s facing long odds. But Macklin is perfectly worthy of the opportunity (ESPN.com ranks him third in the division, behind only Martinez and Felix Sturm, to whom Macklin dropped a highly controversial decision last June).

And just as important as being worthy, Macklin is willing.

Read More at HBO.com