Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez defended his middleweight title last Saturday night at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Conneticut against highly regarded contender, Serhiy Dzinziruk, fighting out of Germany by way of Ukraine.
Martinez (47-2) controlled the early rounds, out-jabbing Dzinziruk despite defincies in height and reach, and dropping straight left hands out of his southpaw stance. Dzinziruk, coming up from the 154 pound division, was considered a very challenging draw for the dynamic Martinez, but was never able to really get going. Usually featuring a world-class jab, tight defense and exceptional fundamentals, "Razor" became noticeably frustrated with his quicker opponent's ability to close the distance, and started getting picked apart even on the outside, where most boxing pundit's believed he would have the advantage.
Realizing that he would need to change tactics in the mid-rounds, Dzinziruk became more aggressive in the 4th stanza, having some success advancing behind his jab before getting caught and dropped in a flash knockdown by way of a Martinez straight left hand. Dzinziruk was not hurt in the exchange and continued with his attack before getting floored hard in the following round. The 6 foot Dziniziruk was noticeably shaken after this second knockdown, and looked visibly rattled between rounds.
Urged on by his corner, Dzinziruk continued to up the ante on Martinez in the 6th and 7th round, catching the champion with jabs and the occasional left hook. Martinez was far too slick to get caught clean, but the fight seemed to be tightening up.
The beginning of the end came early in the 8th round, when Martinez caught Dzinziruk on the way in, landing a flush left hand following the jab, dropping his opponent hard, and leaving Dzinziruk stumbling as he tried to get up. It only got uglier from there, as Martinez caught him again with the left hand, and when Dzinziruk rose, dropping him a 3rd and final time for the round before referee Arthur Mercante Jr. called a halt to the bout with 1:43 remaining in the 8th round.
Following such a loss, it is hard to see a clear path for Dzinziruk. Despite his lofty credentials, he had only fought three times since 2008, and there really isn't much for him at 160 pounds. He is probably still the best fighter in the junior middleweight division, so a return there will probably be in the cards.
Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez is a fighter who continues to impress, looking better every time out, and he continues to climb the mythical P4P rankings. This title means little, but what is clear is that Martinez is simply one of the best fighters in the world today. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a whole lot available for him. Predictably, Martinez called out both Manny Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather after the victory, but it is unlikely that either will sign to fight him. While Martinez has that rare combination of speed, size and power that make him a horrible matchup for just about any prize fighter, he may be too small to effectively move to super-middleweight. At 160 pounds, rematches with Paul Williams or Kelly Pavlik are available, but he clearly beat both fighters in their last time out, and it seems clear that he is looking for bigger things and bigger paydays. A showdown with fellow middleweight champion Felix Sturm is intriguing, but most believe that Sturm wouldn't touch a contract to fight Martinez with a 10-foot pole.
On the undercard, Andy Lee knocked out Craig McEwan in the 10th round after losing most of the fight. The come-from-behind KO may have saved Lee's career, but he has far too many defincies to compete at the world level. The victory may have simply preserved him long enough to get splattered on the world stage at some point in the future. What can be said about Lee is that he is a honest pugilist, a blue-collar type of fighter that always makes for entertaining scraps. That is more than can be said for most HBO or Showtime headliners, and will hopefully ensure that he earns better paydays down the road.