Four Bone-Crunching Knockouts from Sergio Martinez

by Kieran Mulvaney

Since defeating Kelly Pavlik via blood-soaked unanimous decision in April 2010, Sergio Martinez has made four defenses of his middleweight crown. None of them has gone the distance, but each of them has unfolded and ended in a new way. Here’s a rundown of the Argentine’s recent roll of knockout honor:

 

Sergio Martinez, Paul Williams - Photo Credit: Will HartPaul Williams: November 20, 2010

Martinez knocked Williams down in the opening round of their first encounter, eleven months earlier. Had the knockdown not come at the very end of that frame, it might have opened up Williams to a potentially decisive follow-up flurry. As it was, the American survived and eked out a close and controversial points win.

Second time around, Martinez left no doubt. After a fast-paced first round that appeared to presage another compelling contest, Martinez landed a crunching left hand in round two that dropped Williams to the canvas face-first. It was a decisive knockout of the normally iron-chinned ‘Punisher’ and vaulted Martinez high up pound-for-pound lists.

 

Sergio Martinez, Sergiy Dzinziruk - Photo Credit: Will Hart Sergiy Dzinziruk: March 12, 2011

Dzinziruk had never been beaten, or even dropped, as a professional prior to challenging Martinez. The champion ended both those records emphatically. The first two knockdowns, one each in rounds 4 and 5, were relatively flash affairs, the Ukrainian rising to re-engage in battle on both occasions, but in round 8, Martinez dropped his opponent three times in rapid succession, a sequence that was initiated by a left hand to the temple not dissimilar to the one that flattened Williams. A final flurry, punctuated by a right hand, sent the challenger into the ropes and onto the seat of his pants, prompting the referee to call a halt to the contest.

 

Darren Barker, Sergio Martinez - Photo Credit: Will HartDarren Barker: October 1, 2011

For the first two-thirds or so of the scheduled 12 rounds, Barker frustrated Martinez with a tight defense without offering much in the way of offense. Finally, perhaps cognizant that he was far behind on the scorecards, the challenger began to open up. Big mistake: The new strategy allowed him to land some shots but left him open for the Argentine’s fast hands.

A right hook in the tenth wobbled Barker and sent him staggering sideways; although he survived that round, the Englishman couldn’t make it through the following one. Another right hook, this one landing behind the ear, dropped him to his hands and knees and rendered him unable to beat the count. For Barker, as for Dzinziruk, it was his first defeat.

 

Matthew Macklin, Sergio Martinez - Photo Credit: Will Hart Matthew Macklin: March 17, 2012

Unlike Barker, Anglo-Irishman Macklin came to brawl, and for the first half of this contest gave as good as he got. After a seventh-round knockdown (which Martinez claimed was really a push), the challenger was actually ahead on the scorecards. But that seemed to serve only to kick the champion into high gear.

Over the next three rounds, Martinez began to land with greater ease and authority, and in the eleventh, a straight left hand sent Macklin down and into the ropes. Clearly hurt, Macklin rose for more, but as the bell rang to end the round, another Martinez left dropped his foe hard. Macklin made it back to his corner, but his team had seen enough and elected to save him from further punishment.

Gennady Golovkin Adds Heat to Simmering Middleweight Division

by Eric Raskin
Gennady Golovkin, Grezgorz Proksa - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

With his speedy, shifty, hands-below-the-waist southpaw style, Grezgorz Proksa prompted HBO analyst Max Kellerman to declare during the first round of his fight with Gennady Golovkin that he was “doing a pretty fair Sergio Martinez impersonation.” So Golovkin went out and did a pretty fair impersonation of a guy Martinez might want to steer clear of.

Making his American debut and his HBO debut amid passionate hype from the YouTube-scouring hardcore boxing community, the Kazakhstan-born, Germany-based Golovkin did not disappoint. He knocked down the brave but overmatched Proksa three times in five rounds at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, prompting a perfectly timed stoppage at the 1:11 mark of the fifth from referee Charlie Fitch.

 A few hours earlier in Germany, Daniel Geale upset Felix Sturm to unify a couple of alphabet belts at 160 pounds. In two weeks, Martinez will defend the lineal title against another beltholder, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. The best are fighting the best right now at middleweight. And Golovkin now must be considered among the best and a viable option for the Martinez-Chavez victor.

The Eastern Europeans Are Coming

by Kiearn Mulvaney

Gennady Golovkin

It wasn’t so long ago that arguably the most famous boxer to emerge from east of what used to be the Iron Curtain was the fictional Ivan Drago, who battered Apollo Creed to death and famously promised Rocky Balboa that, “I must break you.” That was 27 years and a Cold War ago, and today the situation is very different.

As on the silver screen in 1985, the most intimidating heavyweight in the world is from what was then the Soviet Union, although whether that honor should be bestowed upon Vitali Klitschko or his brother Wladimir is open for discussion. Poland’s Tomasz Adamek won world titles at light heavyweight and cruiserweight before stepping up a division and succumbing bravely to the much larger Vitali; taking his place in the 200-pound division are compatriot Krzysztof Wlodarczyk and German-based Bosniak Marco Huck. One division down, Kazakhstan’s Beibut Shumenov owns a world title belt, and at super middleweight the belt holders include Armenian Arthur Abraham and Hungarian Karoly Balszay.

The Central European presence continues at middleweight and junior middleweight, where three of the division’s best will be introduced to American audiences on HBO on Saturday night.

At least one of them may be familiar to US viewers, although Sergiy Dzinziruk’s HBO debut did not exactly go as planned when he was stopped in eight rounds by middleweight champion Sergio Martinez last March. Prior to that contest, he had not lost as a professional, nor tasted the canvas; Martinez dropped him five times and handed him his first defeat, and the Ukrainian will be looking to get back in the winning column when he drops back to his favored junior middleweight division on Saturday. The task ahead of him isn’t an easy one, however: His opponent is undefeated Puerto Rican prospect Jonathan Gonzalez, and Dzinziruk will need to combat age and inactivity as well as his youthful, powerful, body-punching foe.

That bout is Saturday’s co-main event; the main event should be a doozy. British-based Pole Grzegorz Proksa was much-hyped until he suffered a disappointing points defeat to England’s Kerry Hope last year; since then, he has won two in a row, including a stoppage win over Hope in which he regained his European title. But he, too, faces an uphill struggle on Saturday in the form of undefeated Kazakh wrecking ball Gennady Golovkin.

There’s nothing fancy about Golovkin. Nobody will ever mistake him for a Central European Pernell Whitaker. But he can fight, plowing forward steadily and relentlessly, and thumping and crumpling opponents with punches that don’t appear to have a great deal of torque but are evidently punctuated with fists of stone. Some of his foes, like veteran Kassim Ouma, last until late in the contest; most of them are summarily dispatched in the first few rounds.

Proksa will be looking to buck that trend, and the clash between his free-swinging style and Golovkin’s human tank assault should be one to savor. Hopefully, it will leave American viewers wanting to see more fighters from east of the Rhine. Which would be a good thing, because there are a lot more of them still to see.

Is Golovkin’s Power Enough to Provoke Upheaval?

by Hamilton Nolan


The middleweight division -- once you get past its two glamorous box office stars, Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. -- is blessed with a large quantity of quality, solid, powerful fighters. And it is cursed by the fact that many of them are Eastern European, making them difficult to market to the North American market. One of these men has the potential to make everyone forget their standard geographic prejudices and take notice: Gennady Golovkin.

At 30 years old, Golovkin (23-0) is too old to be labeled a prospect. He bears a greater honor: the most avoided middleweight fighter in the world. Since medaling in the 2004 Olympics for Kazakhstan, Golovkin has been unable to entice anyone with a bigger name than Kassim Ouma to take him on, despite clearly possessing world class talent and the potential to become a pound-for-pound fighter, should he ever get the chance to prove himself against the division's best. Golovkin carries his hands high, throws straight punches, and is generally fundamentally sound; he is not flashy, at first glance. But a highlight reel of his victims tells the real tale of his talent: He possesses some of the heaviest hands in boxing. Golovkin packs the sort of deceptive power that often causes his opponents to drop from unspectacular shots, as if they've been hit by a cement block. His kind of power can't be taught. He's dangerous in every moment. His deceptively straightforward style makes him all the more dangerous.

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HBO Boxing 2011 By the Numbers

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credits: Will Hart With 2012 underway, and a new season of HBO Boxing close to kicking off, here are a few facts and figures by which to remember the boxing year that has just passed.

1
The number of rounds it took for the long-anticipated meeting between junior middleweights James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo to explode into the war we all thought and hoped it would be.

177
The total number of punches thrown by both men in that dramatic first round.

2
Photo Credits: Ed Mulholland Bantamweight champ Fernando Montiel was supposed to provide, at the very least, a stiff challenge to Nonito Donaire, who was moving up from the junior bantamweight division. But two rounds was all it took for Donaire to flatten Montiel with a monstrous left hook that launched the Filipino Flash on the road to potential stardom.

5
The number of times Sergio Martinez knocked down Sergiy Dzinziruk during his middleweight title defense in March.

0
The number of times Dzinziruk had been floored previously in his professional career.

6
The sixth round was the highlight of the fast-paced clash between Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto. Each man had already officially been down once when Berto dropped Ortiz and seemed to be closing in for the kill. But then a powerful left hand sent Berto to the canvas – and prompted HBO commentator Emanuel Steward to erupt in enthusiasm.

4
The number of rounds it took for Ortiz’s star, which had risen in the wake of his Berto win, to come crashing down to Earth: An intentional headbutt of Floyd Mayweather was followed by a point deduction and then, while Ortiz was attempting to apologize to Mayweather for the headbutt (for what appeared to be the third time), Floyd’s left hook and a right hand dropped Ortiz for the count.

36
Photo Credit: Will Hart The total rounds that Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez have fought, without a clear winner emerging from their rivalry.

114-113
The average score, in favor of Pacquiao, of the nine scorecards that have been handed in over the course of the three fights he has fought with Marquez.

86
The sum of punches Miguel Cotto landed on the surgically repaired right eye of Antonio Margarito, en route to a tenth-round stoppage that avenged his controversial defeat three years earlier.

2
The points deducted by referee Joe Cooper from Amir Khan during Khan’s junior welterweight title defense against Lamont Peterson. The deductions would prove decisive in handing Khan a narrow loss, the second defeat of his career.

26
The number of cards televised in 2011 on World Championship Boxing, Boxing After Dark, and HBO PPV.

Trading Shots: Raskin & Mulvaney Play the Percentages

By Eric Raskin

CompuBox has compiled an innovative new data set for HBO.com, ranking active fighters according to a “+/-” stat derived from their offensive and defensive connect percentages over their last five fights. HBO.com’s Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney stepped away from the free media buffet long enough to huddle up in the MGM Grand press room and dissect what the numbers mean and how they might impact several upcoming bouts:

Raskin: The first thing that jumps out at me, Kieran, is that Floyd Mayweather’s score of +30 is more than double the next closest figure. Does this surprise you? And does it make a case that he’s the best boxer in the business?

Mulvaney: What’s interesting to me is that he is number one in both columns. It isn’t a surprise that opponents have a lower connect percentage against him than against anyone, but it’s very interesting that his own connect percentage is so high. It shows how precise, how selective, and how smart he is with his punches.

Raskin: I notice you avoided my question about whether these numbers suggest he might be boxing’s best, and I’m not letting you duck that one. If there’s another surprise on here, it’s that Manny Pacquiao is only a +8. What do you make of that?

Mulvaney: I do think Mayweather is the bext boxer, if not necessarily the best fighter, of this generation. I’m not terribly surprised by Pacquiao’s numbers; he’s always taken one to land one, which is one reason why fans love him.

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CompuBox Factors: A Dangerous Fight

Martinez, 35, hasn't suffered a definitive loss since 2000 (KO by 7 Antonio Margarito) while Dzinziruk, 34, is a perfect 37 for 37 in his 12-year career.  Martinez is a better than 4-1 favorite.

Both have relocated their training camps to the U.S. Argentina's Martinez had trained in Oxnard, Calif., before moving to the Miguel Cotto training camp in Florida while Ukrainian Dzinziruk's base is in Los Angeles under new trainer Buddy McGirt.

Finally, each knows what it's like to toil in obscurity. With his knockout-of-the-year performance against Paul Williams in December, Martinez's star is at its brightest while Dzinziruk wants to dim that star while creating one of his own.

Each man's CompuBox history reveals factors that could shape the outcome.

 

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Sergiy Dzinziruk: The Threat Is Real