Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez started late, but more than made up ground, using A grade athleticism to progress from a newbie to being a pound for pound ace, and likely Hall of Famer, late in his ring-life.
On Saturday night, while in Canastota, NY, to make merry at the International Boxing Hall of Fame induction weekend, the 40-year-old Martinez made it official.
I’m hanging up the gloves, he announced.
It was not an immense surprise for those who knew the toll boxing took from his body, his legs, his arms, how it tore tendons, stretched cartilage beyond repair.
Martinez, who started boxing at age 20, after leaving his first love, soccer, made the surgeon that much busier getting his knee worked on, and despite that, he’d heal up, and show marvelous mobility and ring generalship.
Promoter Lou DiBella told TSS what the Sergio exit means to him. “Sergio Martinez was an extraordinary athlete and boxer,” his long-time promoter, through A grade wins over Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams, stated. Those Ws came in 2010, really his above and beyond year for output. Martinez held the WBC 160 crown, which he took off Pavlik, and he defended versus Williams, with a one-shot KO launch, then Sergiy Dzinziruk, Darren Barker, Matt Macklin, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Martin Murray. A compromised body betrayed him and the lefty scrapper dropped the strap to Miguel Cotto in June 2014. It was his last appearance as an active boxer.
“His remarkable accomplishments were primarily as an aging athlete with chronic pain, yet he never complained and he appreciated every opportunity he had to shine,” DiBella continued. “His career was as remarkable as a champion outside of the ring as it was within. He was a champion for those bullied and for women victimized by domestic violence; he was a champion for underdogs. I have valued his loyalty and his personal excellence. It was an honor to have been his promoter. It is an even bigger honor to remain his friend.”
HBO proudly put Martinez (51-3-2, with 28 KOs), whose model-type looks widened his fanbase to those taken by his pleasingly symmetrical visage, on their air time and again. They sent TSS a response to the Martinez adieu.
“Like millions of boxing fans around the world who have enjoyed watching his spectacular career, everybody at HBO Sports will miss Sergio’s professionalism and elite fighting skills,” said boxing boss Ken Hershman. “What we will do is celebrate a career that is full of accomplishments by one of the most determined athletes of this generation. Watching Sergio win the lineal world middleweight championship on HBO was a landmark moment in the sport’s history. More importantly, our respect and admiration for Sergio as an individual is unmeasurable. His decision to be an activist and campaign against bullying is just one example of how he has taken his celebrity and used it as a positive force to make the world a better place. We will be forever grateful to Sergio and his team for allowing HBO to chronicle his remarkable journey to the top of the sport.”
The sport is a bit worse off with Martinez gone. Simply, he was a class act, in a sphere that does feature more of them than outsiders might imagine. But he stood out. Sergio, thanks for your service, it was a pleasure to watch you, and thanks for entertaining us, thanks for your service to the sport.
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