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19 DECEMBER 2014

 

Like Tarver, Martinez Arrives Late To The Party


Sergio Martinez
Sergio Martinez

By Mike Coppinger:

 

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Two fighters waged a war in the first bout. Give and take action from start to finish, the favorite, a boxer close to the top of most pound-for-pound lists, pushed to the brink by a pugilist considered a late bloomer. In the rematch, the man deemed the underdog heading into the first encounter, erased all doubt, knocking out his opponent with a picture-perfect over hand left in the second round.

 

On May 15, 2004 a man in his mid-30s finally realized stardom. More than six-and-a-half years later, another boxer followed the same path Antonio Tarver blazed before him -- Sergio Martinez.

 

Striking similarities abound between the first pair of fights between Antonio-Tarver-Roy Jones Jr. and Sergio Martinez-Paul Williams. Besides those already mentioned, both pair of fights included a bout or bouts contested for a lineal championship -- Tarver-Jones Jr. for the strap at 175, Martinez-Williams for middleweight supremacy.

 

Furthermore, Tarver’s spectacular knockout was named the 2004 KO of the year. Surely, Martinez’s knockout will garner honors for 2010.


We know that Tarver went on to have a successful career following the first two fights, making the kind of money that eluded him prior, while Jones never went on to win another meaningful match. What we don’t know, of course, is where Martinez and Williams go from here.

 

Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez happens to reign over one of the worst weight classes in the sport, in terms of talent. He has little options. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess.

 

“HBO knows what a star is,” said Lou DiBella, who promotes Martinez. “He’s a star now. We’re going to look at all our options.  It’s a matter of the money. Williams gave us the rematch, if down the line (a third fight) makes sense, we would give him the opportunity. I have to say, why the (expletive) would he want the rematch?”

 

Of course, boxers are a persistent bunch, if not stubborn. Jones later got his rubber match with Tarver, a bout in which he fought to go the distance, as if not getting stopped was a victory in itself. Smart money says that we will see Martinez and Williams do it again at some point, if for no other reason then there are no better options.

 

From here, if Martinez wants to defend his middleweight title without catchweights, the two leading options are undefeated Russian Dmitry Pirog and German Felix Sturm.

 

Pirog, 30, authored what was likely the knockout of the year prior to Saturday, a crashing right hand that shocked top prospect Danny Jacobs in July.

 

Sturm has competed outside Europe just once, a 2004 loss to Oscar De La Hoya in Vegas, in what was an absolute robbery. That fight would likely do big business in Germany and would brighten Martinez’s star worldwide. But if Martinez wants to truly be world renowned, he’ll likely have to move north to 168 or back down to 154.

 

Super middleweight is one of the very best weight classes in the sport, so it is not inconceivable that in a year or two Martinez could campaign at 168, where there would be plenty of exciting matchups. Lucian Bute, Andre Ward, Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham and Andre Dirrell to name a few. Of course, there is always the possibly that one or more of those fighters moves up to 175 by the time Martinez would want to move up in weight.

 

At 154, there’s Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito (who owns a victory over Martinez), Yuri Foreman, Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland (fresh out of prison). But how many of those fighters would really give Martinez a good fight? They all have a name fans know, but wouldn’t have more than a puncher’s chance, none in Foreman’s case.

 

For Paul “The Punisher” Williams, who has displayed an iron chin in the past, doubt will surround just how much this fight took out of him. A devastating knockout the likes of which he suffered is hard to bounce back from. Ask Jones. Jones followed up his victimization at the hands of Tarver with a far more brutal KO to Glen Johnson.

 

There was again much talk from Williams’ promoter Dan Goosen of him moving back down to welterweight. Might be a good idea. Now that he has been knocked out, maybe fighters will be more willing to compete against him at 147 this time around.

 

For now, the boxing world belongs to Martinez. This past Saturday, a man seized his moment at age 35. So while “Maravilla” is unlikely to be starring in any “Rocky” films, as he doesn’t speak English, he could become an athlete people fondly recall for years.

 

30 truly is the new 20 for this Argentine.




Copp Log:

 

Good to see referee Earl Morton administer the full 10 count to Paul Williams. Too many times in the past, refs have waved off the fight without a count, only to have the fallen boxer jump up and contest the stoppage, a la Danny Jacobs against Dmitry Pirog earlier this year. No sense in not counting to 10.

 

Hungarian Zsolt Erdei, who returned to light heavyweight on the undercard, had a large contingent of fans at Boardwalk Hall, more than Williams and Martinez fans combined. DiBella said that he is looking to follow the model Kathy Duva and Main Events have used in building up Polish heavyweight Tomasz Adamek in Newark, New Jersey. Smart thinking by Lou.

 

Andre Berto has another soft touch this Saturday, fighting welterweight fringe-contender Freddy Hernandez. Let’s hope that once and for all, Berto moves on to some bigger fights following this weekend.

 

Count me among those who doesn’t see Juan Manuel Marquez-Michael Katsidis as a mismatch. It seems that JMM has slowed down a tad, enough to make a fight with a young, determined brawler a tough matchup. There should be some dramatic moments.

 

Follow Mike Coppinger on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger. Write to him: mike.coppinger@gmail.com.

 

November 23, 2010



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