Sergio Martinez keeps on doing it – not just winning – but looking more exciting with each outstanding performance. Once known as more of a quick and clever operator, Martinez is getting the job done these days in quite a different manner.
The Argentinean southpaw is not your typical modern day prizefighter. The way he holds his hands down low and sticks his chin out, inviting, almost goading incoming fire, Martinez has the swagger of a different era. He would still be a lot of fun if he rode that style to the scorecards, but Maravilla doesn’t seem all that interested in simple results – not when the opportunity to go for the throat is in reach.
The victim this time, a fellow southpaw, came highly regarded. As a tall, durable, technically sound fighter, able to push forward behind a busy jab – Sergiy Dzinziruk wasn’t billed as an easy man to look good against.
Martinez, still very much a craftsman, used a sharp jab, doubling and tripling up with it, to take the first session, before bringing the straight left into play in the second round. Sometimes leading with the left, but more often coming in behind the jab, Martinez, 47-2-2 (26), continuously beat Dzinziruk to the punch over the first few rounds, as he opened up a nice little early cushion.
As the Ukrainian born German started falling behind, his urgency increased – and while he started touching up Martinez a little more as the rounds went by, he also became increasingly open to the champion’s left hand. Knockdowns followed, a couple of them, one early in the fourth and another late in the fifth – and while Dzinziruk, 37-1 (23), did fairly well in between and responded with his best work in the sixth and seventh rounds, playing catch-up was a dangerous game against the accurate power Martinez was firing back with.
The beginning of the end came early in the eighth, as a left hand landing flush against Dzinziruk’s jaw, sent the challenger tumbling down. While the previous knockdowns were more of the flash variety, it was clear by the way Dzinziruk, 158 3/4, fell forward in his initial attempt to rise, that he was badly hurt. Martinez , also 158 3/4, stormed forward for the finish, with the challenger dropped a couple more times in quick succession before Arthur Mercante Jr. called a halt to the battle at the 1:43 mark.
Not surprisingly, the winner called out Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather in the post-fight interview – can’t blame Martinez for trying – though for various reasons, it’s hard to imagine either fighter stepping in with him. Later on, Martinez indicated he’d invite a match-up with Miguel Cotto – which would be an easy sell, though hard to picture as a competitive clash. According to Max Kellerman, James Kirkland is very much willing – but the bruising Texan is likely not ready for Martinez just yet.
We’ll have to wait and see who gets the call – but let’s hope Martinez is back in action very soon.
The undercard featured another battle of southpaw middleweights, with Andy Lee scoring an exciting come from behind knockout victory over Craig McEwan. It was arguably a career saving victory for the one-time prized prospect, whose name had faded from the spotlight since a surprising loss to unheralded Brian Vera three years ago.
Lee, 25-1 (19), was looking an unlikely winner until late in the ninth round when a 1-2 combination fired over the guard dropped McEwan in a neutral corner. The Scotsman managed to see out the round, but was on unsteady legs and easy prey for Lee in the tenth, when a series of lefts and rights forced Referee Steve Smoger to step in a fraction of a second after a final blast sent McEwan, now 19-1 (10), to the canvas again.
It was a painful defeat for the underdog, who appeared in control heading into the final few sessions after having much the better of the earlier action. With Lee forgoing his jab and looking to land one big shot, McEwan was able to push forward round after round, drilling the Kronk fighter repeatedly with an assortment of shots to the noggin, while mixing in a healthy dose of body work for good measure.
Though not known as a puncher, McEwan, 162 1/2, was putting his shots together nicely, landing flush, stinging volleys, and it was no surprise when a hurtful right hook sent Lee, also 162 1/2, skating along the ropes late in the fifth session. There was little time for McEwan to follow-up, though Lee’s chances looked to be teetering on the brink as the first half came to a close.
McEwan maintained an edge in the sixth, though was starting to show slight signs of wear as his punches seemed to lack their earlier bite. Though also tiring, Lee was standing his ground more and managed to rally over the final minute of the round.
The momentum continued to slightly shift in the seventh and eighth rounds as the action became increasingly ragged. The sharpness that marked McEwan’s earlier work had gone, while Lee was now winning his share of exchanges, though it was still a bit of a shocker when the knockdown came in the ninth.
Though Lee pulled out the victory in entertaining fashion, his performance was far from convincing. Looking to load up with counter hooks while blocking punches with his face is not going to take the Irishman very far – and Lee can count himself a little lucky that McEwan isn’t much of a puncher.