Matthew Macklin fought bravely but Sergio Martinez showed he is top class, says Wayne McCullough.
Last Updated: 19/03/12 9:46am
In my opinion, Sergio Gabriel Martinez is one of the top three pound for pound fighters in the world with the other two being Floyd Mayweather Jnr and Manny Pacquiao. He could arguably take the number one spot because neither of these two will step up and face him.
With two losses out of 52 fights, Martinez could easily be undefeated. His first loss was in February 2000 to Antonio Margarito but there is a question mark hanging over that one because of Margarito's hand wrap issue. His other loss was to Paul Williams in December 2009. He lost a split decision in a fight he really should have been awarded. In their rematch he scored a quick knockout but he never fought Margarito again.
Martinez fights anyone his team put in front if him. In October 2011 he defeated Britain's Darren Barker in a good fight. This past weekend he was set to face Birmingham's Matthew Macklin in Madison Square Garden in New York.
Macklin, whose parents are Irish, should have had most of the support in New York with the massive Irish population there. He was once a British and European champion and had a world title shot in Germany last June only to be robbed of a the belt against Felix Strum by split decision.
Now Macklin was getting his second chance but faced a better fighter this time around so he would have to step up his plan to win.
Martinez can box on the backfoot, go forward, hit hard and has a solid chin. Macklin can go forward which is his best style, has good energy and a sound chin but it would be interesting to see what style he had for Martinez because he was going to be hard to figure out.
As usual Martinez came out in the opening round with his hands low and held the center of the ring making Macklin work harder. Martinez got his left going early and was landing his piston-like right jabs at will. Macklin's left eye was showing the effects of that punch after two rounds which Martinez had been controlling.
Martinez was being pushed back from round three through five and even though he was still scoring, Macklin was busier and landed lefts and rights off his opponent's head. They both had success in the fifth round, landing hard shots and this round was close. On my card Macklin took these previous three rounds.
Martinez got things going in the next two, landing hard left uppercuts off Macklin's head when he committed with his rights, but Macklin caught Martinez with a grazing right as both their feet were tangled. Martinez's glove touched the canvas and referee Eddie Cotton called it a knockdown. This was significant as it was scored a 10-8 round for Macklin.
Martinez wasn't hurt. He seemed more upset that the referee had called it. The same thing happened to me when I fought Naseem Hamed. I hit him with a left hook to the head in the third round and his glove touched the canvas but unfortunately the referee didn't call it for me that night.
After six rounds I had the fight even. After seven Macklin was two points up thanks to the previous 10-8 round.
At times Martinez showed he was a level above Macklin but not through the entire fight. In rounds 8-11 he must have known he was behind because he switched things up a gear and forced the fight.
Straight left and quick right jabs were busting Macklin's face up, his left eye was cut and he had blood on the right side of his face. He showed the heart of a warrior but by the 11th Macklin was being taken apart bit by bit.
Macklin committed with punches in the 11th and got tagged by a quick straight left hand from Martinez, putting him down. Macklin rose up and showed heart but was soon down again from the same punch. He got up as the bell rang and sat on his stool looking like he didn't know where he was.
Macklin's trainer, Buddy McGirt, stopped the fight. His fighter's face was bloodied and it was a good call.
The judges had it close going into the last round before the stoppage. I had Martinez slightly up before the 11th. Martinez was pushed a little harder than most people thought but he showed his different class in the last few rounds of this fight and he got the stoppage win he said he would get all week.
Macklin will be back and I think a fight with Andy Lee or Darren Barker would be a great match-up.
At 37 years old Martinez was strong, well conditioned and looked like he could have fought all night. His poise was the major factor as he showed that while even though early in the fight he may have been trailing, he chipped away until he got the stoppage victory.