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:
Paul 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.
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: 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: 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.