ATLANTIC CITY — With a single punch, a devastating left hook, Sergio Gabriel Martinez retained his world middleweight title, separated arch-rival Paul Williams from his senses, and may well have ended Manny Pacquiao’s stranglehold on Fighter of the Year honors.
A year after dropping a majority decision to Williams in a fight many thought he won, Martinez left no doubt about the rematch, knocking the taller man stone cold just 1:10 into the second round of Saturday night’s card at Boardwalk Hall.
Many had expected the rematch to unfold as cautiously as had its predecessor, but after a frenetic first round (we gave Martinez a slight edge) the two picked up the pace in the second – for as long as it lasted. A minute into the round they threw simultaneous lefts, and suddenly only one man was standing.
“The difference was that I attacked in the second, said Martinez. “I thought if I applied the pressure he might make a mistake.
Mistake? A southpaw, Williams carelessly threw a long, looping, roundhouse punch – one that never arrived. Before it got within six inches of its intended target, Martinez had stepped inside it and turning his head to the side, driven home a left of his own that had his full weight behind it.
Referee Earl Morton counted, although he needn’t have bothered. Before Williams even woke up, Martinez was being paraded around the ring in a gold crown that looked as if it had been appropriated from the local Burger King franchise.
“I knew it was going to be a tough fight, said a rueful Williams. “I got caught with a punch.
Even happier than Martinez may have been promoter Lou DiBella, whose fortunes may also have turned with the punch. Forced by HBO into a rematch neither he or Martinez particularly wanted, both promoter and boxer will now likely find themselves in the drivers seat.
“Pacquiao, Mayweather, and Martinez are the three best fighters in the world, said DiBella, who was probably also correct in noting that the ferocity of Saturday night’s kayo isn’t exactly going to bring prospective opponents swarming to his door.
On the other hand, the emphatic nature of his victory is likely to put Martinez at the head table at the 2011 Boxing Writers Dinner. Pacquiao hasn’t had a bad 2010, but in Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito, he beat a couple of guys he was supposed to beat. Martinez, on the other hand, was a big underdog when he beat Kelly Pavlik to win the 160-pound title, and then topped that here Saturday night by punishing the Punisher. If he’s not the Fighter of the Year right now, he’s the leader in the clubhouse. (EDITOR MIKE NOTE: He has my vote.)
* * *
Multiple choice: Fot is:
(a) What Zsolt Erdei and Samson Onyango ostensibly did in the ring for eight rounds in their off-TV co-feature.
(b) A verb used in certain parts of New England to describe the act of passing wind.
(c) Zsolt’s hometown in Hungary.
(d) All of the above.
With a substantial contingent of his countrymen happily chanting (or so our translators inform us, “Let’s go, Firebird! and “We are Hungary from the peanut gallery in the upper regions of Boardwalk Hall, Erdei, the 35 year-old former WBC light-heavyweight and WBO cruiserweight champion, cruised to a one-sided decision over Onyango, his overmatched opponent from Kenya.
Fighting for the first time in a year, the Pride of Fot was initiating what he hopes will be a sustained American campaign, and received mixed reviews on his first outing under DiBella’s promotional colors. Though quick for a light-heavyweight – particularly a Eastern European light-heavyweight — Erdei seemed to disdain defense altogether, relying only on his rapid-fire jab to keep his opponent at bay. The logical extension of this is that when Zsolt stops jabbing, Zsolt gets hit. It happened more than a few times in Saturday’s tuneup against Onyango, and while the Kenyan simply doesn’t pack enough wallop to make Erdei pay a price for his periodic lapses, it is reasonable to suppose that a more accomplished foe probably will.
“I worked out the rust, Zsolt assessed his own performance. “I controlled the fight with my jab, but I was a bit hesitant with the right.
The win, in any case, was Erdei’s 32nd in as many pro fights. The Hungarian won every round (80-72) on the scorecards of Ron McNair and Joseph Pasquale, while John McKaie gave Erdei a round at 79-73. Onyango, who has lost all six of his fights contested outside Africa, is now 20-7 overall.
What was easily the most competitive – and most entertaining – bout on the six-fight undercard saw Philadelphia’s Steve Upsher-Chambers and Bayan Jargal, a Mongolian now domiciled in Virginia, trade leather nonstop for eight furious rounds, with Upsher-Chambers squeaking out a split decision. It was a battle of two talented young welterweights, and there wasn’t a great deal to separate the two. Pasquale favored Jargal 77-75, but was overruled by McNair (78-74) and McKaie (77-75). Upsher-Chambers is now 23-1-1, while Jargal, who absorbed his first professional defeat, is 15-1-3. Both will be heard from again, and if ever a fight cried out for a rematch, it was this one. We’d pay to watch these two go at it again.
Dominican-born Maryland middleweight Fernando Guerrero impressively stopped Mexican veteran Saul Duran four rounds into their scheduled 10-rounder. Guerrrero (20-0) was in complete command throughout, and had Duran on the floor in the second. Guerrero whiffed with a right hook, then came back to nail the Mexican with a roundhouse left to the neck. Guerrero had wobbled his foe with several hard right hooks in the third round, and then in the fourth lashed out to land a four-punch combination with blinding speed. Every punch of the barrage found its target, and Duran (36-18-3) slowly sank to his knees and, clutching the second strand of ring rope, took referee Ricardo Vera’s 10-count at 1:06 of the round. The loss was Duran’s fifth in six fights since 2005, during which time his only win was a decision over 48 year-old Hector Camacho.
The waistband of Tony (The Tiger) Thompson’s trunks bore the legend “WE R ONE. Unfortunately (for the audience, anyway), Paul Marinaccio wer one too, and the matchup of ungainly (and possibly dyslexic) southpaw heavyweights was predictably ugly for the 11 minutes it lasted. Referee David Fields finally rescued the 43 year-old Marinaccio at 2:02 of the fourth, after Thompson had landed a series of unanswered rights to the head of his unresponsive Washington opponent. Thompson (35-2) won his fifth in a row since his 2008 TKO loss to Wladimir Klitschko. The loss was the third on the trot for Marinaccio (24-6-3).
In earlier bouts, Louis del Valle, the reigning New York state featherweight champion, ran his pro mark to 11-0 by stopping Mexican Noe Lopez (6-7) at 1:48 of the third, while in the evening’s opening act, Cleveland’s Willie Nelson (16-0-1) disposed of San Antonio’s Quinton Whitaker (6-8) in less than a round, with Vera stopping it after 2:22.
* * *
AT BOARDWALK HALL
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.
November 20, 2010
MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Sergio Martinez, 157 ½, Argentina KO’d Paul Williams, 156, Augusta, Ga. (2) (Retains WBC title)
Fernando Guerrero, 159, Salisbury, Md. Dec. Saul Duran, 161 ½, Juarez, Mexico (4)
HEAVYWEIGHTS: Tony Thompson, 250 ½, Washington, D.C. TKO’d Paul Marinaccio, 228, Cary, N.C. (4)
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS: Zsolt Erdei, 175, Fot, Hungary dec. Samson Onyango, 173 ½, Nairobi, Kenya (8)
JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Willie Nelson, 149 ½, Cleveland, Ohio TKO’d Quinton Whitaker, 149 ½, San Antonio, Tex. (1)
WELTERWEIGHTS: Steve Upsher-Chambers, 143 ½, Philadelphia, Penn. Dec. Bayan Jargal, 142 ½, Ulan Bator, Mongolia. (8)
JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHTS: Luis del Valle, 127 ½, Newburgh, N.Y. TKO’d Noe Lopez Jr., 127, Nogales, Mexico (3)