In front of thousands of singing countrymen, Sergio Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs) outlasted UK’s Martin Murray (25-1-1, 11 KOs) to win a hotly contested unanimous decision. All three judges at ringside scored the bout 115-112 for the champion.
Martinez retained his TBRB lineal middleweight championship of the world, as well as his RING and WBC title belts.
Martinez started carefully in the first. The quick southpaw used his feet to move in and out of the larger Murray’s range, content to focus on establishing an opening. Martinez moved in slowly with his hands down, trying to lure Murray into lowering his high guard. Murray responded by landing a solid right hand that did no real damage and a few light one-twos. Murray’s cautious and sound approach won him the round.
The champion was more aggressive in the second. Carrying his guard very low and circling to his left, Martinez outlanded the careful Murray. The third round was more of the same, except Murray was able to land at least one clean right hand upstairs. Martinez continued to circle and potshot. His quick jabs, lead left hands and uppercuts from long range were too quick for the plodding Murray.
A good left hook landed for Murray at the beginning of the fourth as the rain started falling even more heavily. The two began engaging each other more, perhaps because of it. Murray landed a low blow on the champion which caused a momentary break in the action. Martinez turned up the offense a bit after as retaliation. Murray obliged with his own hard right hands and outpunched the Argentinean for the first time in the fight.
In the fifth, Martinez bounced on his toes more, and moved athletic leaps to put himself in position to hook and up jab. Murray responded with classic boxing, covering up high and throwing straight shots in return. It was a battle of styles, Martinez landing the flashier shots but getting outpunched again.
Murray came out more aggressively in the sixth. This time, his high guard served as an aggressive battering ram. Unlike previous rounds, Murray threw hard, aggressive punches that may have bloodied Martinez’s left eye (it also could have been a head butt). The champ was being hit more than ever now, but still had his wits about him.
Martinez was back to being effective in the seventh. His hard jab stung Murray’s nose early in the round and often. Augmented with clever hooks, Martinez was having his way until Murray hit him with a shoulder to the left eye, following it up with a short right hook while the referee was trying to break them. Again, Martinez was given a rest because of the foul. Again, he responded with his best work.
Murray nailed Martinez with a hard straight right hand in the eight. The champ made it to his feet quickly but looked visibly tired. The larger Murray was showing his stuff now. He had the momentum.
Martinez rallied in the ninth by simply outworking Murray. By the end of the round, Murray’s nose was visibly bloody by the straight left hands Martinez repeatedly threw and landed.
In the tenth, Murray went to the rough stuff again, this time barreling in with his head as the round began. Murray went back to being busy afterward and may have knocked the champion down with hard combinations on the ropes, though the referee ruled it a slip.
Murray was making Martinez look old now. The champ was forced to hold on towards the end of the round when again Murray let loose a wicked combination up and down his aging torso.
Trouble was a brewing in the eleventh for the proud Martinez. The tide was turned now, but Martinez seemed to put Murray on the retreat for a spell after catching him to the body unprepared. Murray was aggressive but missing more now, while Martinez fed him a steady diet of jabs and left hands. It was the champion’s round once again.
Murray came out in the final round determined to become champion. His hard one-twos during the opening seconds were blocked mostly but still moved Martinez back when they landed. The Argentinean was digging deep now. The two traded clean power shots in the middle of the ring. Martinez was moving, then opened up on Murray when he had him against the ropes.
The crowd cheered wildly for their man, singing loudly as the final bell approached. Both men were convinced they’d done enough.
HBO’s Harold Lederman agreed with Martinez, who ran to the ropes to celebrate before the decision was announced. His unofficial scorecard read 114-113 for the 38-year-old champion. It was revealed after the fight by HBO’s Max Kellerman that Martinez suffered a hand injury during the bout. No matter, the champion was proud of his effort.
HBO’s planned Saturday tripleheader was supposed to be rounded out by a battle between once-beaten welterweights Luis Carlos Abregu and Montreal's Antonin Decarie, as well as a heavyweights Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne. However, HBO’s lead boxing anchor Jim Lampley opened the telecast by reporting heavy rain at the open aired Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield soccer stadium in Buenos Aires. Because of it, HBO was forced to make substantial changes to their television lineup on the fly Saturday night. Opening the telecast instead of Abregu-Decaire, was the scheduled main event, Martinez vs. Murray. The Abregu-Decarie bout was scratched all together from television, and heavyweight battle between Arreola and Stiverne (broadcast from Ontario, California) was moved after.
HBO clips showed Luis Carlos Abregu (35-1, 28 KOs) defeating Antonin Decaire (27-2, 8 KOs) by ten-round decision. Abregu knocked his opponent down twice in the eighth and won going away.
In the evening’s final bout, heavyweight contender Bermane Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 KOs) shocked former world title challenger Chris Arreloa (35-3, 30 KOs) by unanimous decision. Stiverne knocked Arreola down to the canvas with a huge right hand bomb in the third, but the proud Mexican-American was able to rise to his feet and go the distance. The fight may have put an end to Arreola’s title hopes for good, and it put the one loss Stiverne on the map. Judges scored the bout 118-109, 117-110 and 117-110 for the winner Stiverne, making him the WBC mandatory challenger for Vitali Klitschko.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV