ATLANTIC CITY NJ - NOVEMBER 20: Sergio Martinez celebrates after knocking out Paul Williams in the second round of their Middleweight Championship fight on November 20 2010 at The Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Sergio Martinez, universally considered the number three-ranked pound-for-pound fighter behind Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., took on tough Irishman Matthew Macklin last night (March 17, 2012) at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. While Macklin had surprised many with his spirited effort against Felix Sturm, one which most considered enough to give him the win, few people expected him to have much to offer the champion on St. Patrick's Day.
Well, those people were wrong. Then right. Then wrong again. Then very, very right.
The slick Martinez started off the bout rather tentatively, dancing around on the outside and occasionally flicking out the jab, while Macklin pursued with heavy hooks. Aside from a short Martinez left that had Macklin reeling in the second round, the bout's early going was one of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
After six close rounds, things then turned ugly.
As the two tied up in the seventh round, awkward leg positioning caused Martinez to stumble from a Macklin right hand, and his own glove touched the canvas. The referee called it a knockdown, which made the already-close bout a dangerous one for the Argentinian superstar.
He responded in the way a proper champion should: By turning up the heat.
Martinez went on the attack, pressuring with his trademark left and doing more and more damage as time progressed. Near the end of the eleventh round, he connected with a missile of a left hand, sending Macklin tumbling down. The gritty challenger made it back to his feet, but another left hand crushed him at the bell. While he managed to get up and make it to his corner, he was deemed unfit to continue, granting Martinez his fourth consecutive stoppage victory.
Not bad, "Maravilla," Not bad at all.
In the first bout of the evening, hard-punching super middleweight prospects Edwin Rodriguez and Don George squared off in what had the potential to be a real slobberknocker.
Sadly, "potential" alone doesn't pay the bills.
Rodriguez expressed a desire before the bout to fight more technically, and he delivered. He kept his jab in George's face all night, throwing several dozen a round and keeping his hard-punching foe at bay. George just couldn't get close enough to land any of his heavy bombs and often found himself on the wrong end of slick combinations founded on those constant jabs.
While he gave it his all, especially in a tenth round that saw him throw everything and the kitchen sink at Rodriguez, the latter's defense proved too solid. Rodriguez came away with a unanimous decision and his undefeated record intact in an active, but mediocre affair.
For complete "Martinez vs. Macklin" results and play-by-play of the fight, as well as the under card action, click here.