By Ron Valderrama at ringside: May 26th Tucson-Az. Bantamweight, Hanzel "El Tornadito" Martinez (18-0, 14 KO’s) survived a scare and managed to walk away with the WBC United States (USNBC) Bantamweight Title in a win over Felipe Rivas (12-11-1, 7 KO’s) of Sonora, Mexico.
Martinez, the brother-in-law of former world champion, Antonio Margarito was originally scheduled to fight Jose German Cruz for the NABF super flyweight title but Martinez was overweight. A search for a worthy opponent was found late Thursday with Rivas.
Martinez came out in the first round moving forward against Rivas and landed some good jabs and displayed some good defense.
The second round Rivas began landing some nice head shots and a few good shots to the body as he would choose to fight Martinez inside, a move that would prove effective. In round three the inside game of Rivas was taking a toll on Martinez who appeared to have a cut on the bridge of his nose and bleeding from his mouth. It was odd seeing Martinez in a vulnerable position as Rivas was landing punches at will against the Mexican prospect. Martinez, who proved he can take a punch and still box his way out, was stunned when out of the blue, Rivas would throw a left hook that would send Martinez down for a count and into uncharted territory. As this was not enough of a shock, Rivas would get cocky and spit his mouthpiece towards Martinez. Not liking the attitude of Rivas, referee Tony Zaino deducted a point for his action as the crowd looked on in amazement. A battered Martinez would survive the count and make it through the round.
In round four it was evident that Martinez was not him self, I have been ringside at three of his fights and have never seen him struggle like this. The soon to be champion would dig deep and with courage and poise, began to use his skill and knowledge and began to turn the table.
The fifth round would be a slight improvement for Martinez but still seemed a little off key. Rivas would continue to land some hard shots, but Martinez would answer back with some powerful combinations of his own and begin to chip away at Rivas towards the middle of the round.
The old Martinez came out in round six, battered and bruised, Martinez would throw some damaging body shots on Rivas that clearly rattled him, which after the fight we learned injured Rivas. It was amazing to watch as Martinez, with determination and will, began to scratch and claw his way back into the fight.
The fight would end abruptly, and to the amazement of the Martinez corner, as well as everyone in the crowd, Rivas would refuse to come out for the seventh round. Ahead on the score cards, Rivas would say after the fight that the weight difference was to much, and that he had to come up in weight to take this bout. In pain and exhausted, Rivas went on to say that he was happy with his performance and that Martinez was a powerful puncher. Rivas can be proud of his performance, he gave it all he could for a short notice fight.
Ron Valderrama can be reached on www.facebook.com/ronatringside, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and also on Twitter-@ronatringside.
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