by Michael Gluckstadt
Sergio Martinez’s triumphant return to Argentina was nearly spoiled by the Englishman Martin Murray in a fight that raises questions about how much the 38-year-old middleweight champion has left. In front of 40,000 of his screaming, rain-soaked countrymen at Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires, “Maravilla” was stretched to his absolute limit, touching the canvas numerous times--though only one of them ruled an official knockdown--en route to a too-close-for-comfort unanimous victory.
After a rough middle patch, Martinez needed the last two rounds to secure the win. He called on his famous reserve strength and received encouragement from the crowd, ultimately taking them both and netting himself scores of 115-112 across all three judges’ scorecards.
The night had started out strong for Martinez, who came out to a frenzied crowd and explosive fireworks display. With heavy bursts of rain and the occasional flash of lightning, he remained unfazed in the ring. A day earlier with reports of a storm swirling, Martinez had remarked, “The weather won’t bother me; he has to fight in it too.”