ATLANTIC CITY Sergio Martinez said he would have a plan to counter the right of Kelly Pavlik and he would use his speed in the ring to take the middleweight title away from the champion. But it was also a nasty cut sustained by Pavlik above the right eye that contributed to Martinez getting a 12-round unanimous decision at Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall Saturday evening.
Now the 35-year old Martinez (45-2-2,23KO’s), a native of Buenos Aires Argentina, and residing now in Madrid Spain can call himself the WBC/WBO middleweight champion. There certainly were no cries for Argentina especially after the way Martinez fought his way to the title from the seventh round on
Pavlik (36-2, 30Ko’s) of Youngstown Ohio entered the ring once again at Convention Hall to a thunderous ovation, opposing Martinez the mandatory challenger, a heavy favorite to retain the title he won from Jermaine Taylor at the same venue almost two years ago. It was a pro Pavlik crowd as about 3,000 or more of the 6,700 in attendance once again traveled by car and bus from Youngstown to see their fighter defend against Martinez.
Martinez was expecting a 12-round fight, “A 12-round plan,” he said afterwards in the ring with a translator by his side. The cut from a Martinez punch appeared severe at first but Pavlik was able to get by. He briefly sent Martinez to the canvas in the seventh with a short right, appearing to be a slip, but Martinez quickly got up.
Then with Martinez clearly behind on points, he went to work in the ninth round and all three judges at ringside gave Martinez the last four rounds of the fight. The new champion was able to counter the right of Pavlik, and the cut got worse. Pavlik obviously was hindered and could do nothing, and at times it appeared the ringside doctors were going to stop the fight as the cut got worse.
“In the last third of the fight, in the eighth or ninth round he began touching me a lot,” commented Pavlik who required 12 stitches to close the wound. It was obvious that the complexion of the fight changed as Martinez made the comeback and landed solid punches to the face of Pavlik. Martinez would have a 112-51 edge of connecting punches in the final four rounds.
“I tried but it was very hard to come back after him,” said the dethroned champion who may or may not get a rematch with Martinez. “I couldn’t see out of my right eye after he cut it in the eighth or ninth round. I could not see his left,” added Pavlik.
And in the corner, Pavlik’s handlers did their best. But, they too also realized that the championship was suddenly slipping away. “After the eighth round, he just seemed like he gave it away,” said Pavlik trainer Jack Lowe. “We could not turn it around and I don’t know why,” he commented.
The anticipated fight for Pavlik against Paul Williams, previously scheduled and postponed, because of a staph infection on his left hand is now history. He will go back home and weigh his options. For Martinez, who has had bad success over the past few years because of decisions that went against him, there is more to come.
Martinez, who ironically is promoted by Lou Dibella could get Williams who he lost to back in December in what was a controversial unanimous decision. Taylor, who lost the title to Pavlik was once promoted by Dibella, so in a way Dibella has another champion and gets his redemption.
For now though Martinez will savor the victory and celebrate his championship in Spain and of course in Argentina. “There is a lot of pride and emotion for me,” said Martinez who was wrought with emotion when the decision was announced.
“When the last bell rang I knew I was the new world champion,’ he said. Martinez could have been a successful soccer player but chose boxing because hr thought he would be more successful in the ring. “Boxing gives you a chance to dream. You never stop to dream to be a world champion,” he said.
Indeed there will be no crying in Argentina when their new champion comes home to celebrate the victory.
ON THE UNDER CARD: Vincent Arroyo (10-1, 7 KO’s) a promising super lightweight from New York stopped the previously undefeated Jeremy Bryan (13-1, 6KO’s) of Paterson New Jersey. Referee Benjy Esteves put an end to the fight at 1:43 of the eighth round,
Mike Jones (21-0, 17 KO’s) the promising welterweight from Philadelphia stopped Hector Munoz (18-3-1,11KO’s) of Albuquerque New Mexico at 2:03 of round five and won the NABA and NABO Welterweight titles.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]