Sergio Martinez stops Matthew Macklin

boxingby Paul Strauss: Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez had his hands full Saturday night at Madison Square Garden (MSG), NYC, NY, at least temporarily. He not only had a tough opponent in front of him named Matthew “Mack the Knife” Macklin, but he also had to convince a large segment of the crowd, which was Irish, that their fellow Irishman wasn’t winning the fight. Every time Macklin would throw any kind of punch, it was enthusiastically acknowledged by his fans.

To make matters worse, Sergio came into the fight as a heavy favorite, as much as 10-1 according to HBO announcer Larry Merchant. Consequently, it wasn’t going to be enough to just win rounds. It seemed as though he needed to be doing it impressively, and that didn’t seem to be happening, at least according to both Larry Merchant and Emanuel Steward. They both felt he appeared indecisive or unsure of the situation. Jim Lampley disagreed and said he thought they both appeared that way.

The truth of the matter is Sergio Gabriel “Maravilla” Martinez is one of the best tacticians in the game. He is a giant feint. In small doses, he was driving Macklin crazy.. He was just too fast and elusive for the Irishman. No matter what Macklin would try, whether it was offensively or defensively, Sergio had an answer. That’s not to say Macklin didn’t have a few answers of his own, but those times were when Sergio kind of forgot himself for a moment or two and moved in the wrong direction, or when he was a bit nonchalant. The majority of the time, he was controlling things, and gradually setting up the trap(s) he wanted, which would enable him to fulfill his prediction.

Macklin’s post-fight comments shed some light on that. He explained that normally he would fight very aggressively, pressuring, pressuring and trying to wear down his opponent. But, he knew that wouldn’t work with Sergio, because he would end up taking too much punishment. Instead, he tried to fight with a more strategic plan in mind, a bit of a more cautious attack.

When Martinez was asked why he seemed to have more difficulty early on with Macklin, he explained that the Irishman wasn’t as aggressive as he expected him to be and that he also had a good defense. When asked how it was that he eventually figured him out, Sergio said it was like chopping down a tree. You do it little by little. Sergio’s task of chopping Macklin down was done with style. He darted in and out, side to side, and executed the snap away as well as anyone now in the game can do it. He was constantly setting Macklin for both leads and counters.

However, in the eighth round, Sergio’s steady work got a an extra nudge when Macklin was credited with a knockdown. Mack the Knife did land a punch, but the real reason Sergio momentarily touched the canvas was because his right leg got tangled with Macklin’s left leg. At the same time, Sergio was just starting to pull away. As a result, he tripped and fell. He was not hurt by a punch, but he was aggravated. His intensity level increased noticeably.

Up until that time, Sergio seemed content with jabbing, and countering with the right hook. Every so often the southpaw would time a good straight left. Macklin cautiously used his jab, but was often times short with it. He had enjoyed some success with a one-two, with the left to the head and right to the body. He also got in several good lead right hands to the chin of Sergio, but they didn’t result in any damage. The opposite was not true with Macklin, because his face was definitely showing results of Sergio’s precision punching. Macklin was swelling over and under both eyes, and he also was developing small cuts around the eyes.

Most of the time, Martinez was just too fast for Macklin, both with his feet and hands. The hometown fans wanted their guy to have more of an opportunity to slug it out with Sergio, but that wasn’t going to happen. Sergio was too much of a surgeon in his game plan, at first landing one shot at a time, and not yet really putting any combinations together. That would come later. His conservative plan allowed Macklin to stay in the fight, and during those earlier rounds..

After the knockdown, though, Sergio stepped up his attack, and got his timing in sync. From that point on he was landing a lot more right hooks, and he quit missing over the top so much with the straight left. One beautiful Martinez right hook in ninth round sent Macklin’s mouthpiece sailing. Now, the arc of his punches would follow Macklin’s head as the Irishman would duck. Sergio was also starting to get his right hook behind Macklin’s glove, or use it as a damaging counter to Macklin’s jab.

Macklin was hurt now, and his face was really showing the signs of the beating he was taking. He started getting more desperate, and as a result, his left hook became a looping punch. That was a big mistake! It enabled the much faster Sergio to step inside of it and land a straight left to the jaw. Down went Macklin. He was in deep trouble, but managed to get up before the count of ten.

Seconds later the same thing happened. Once again Macklin foolishly tried to land a looping left hook. Sergio said thank you, and once again stepped inside with a crunching straight left. It too landed right on the button. Macklin had no prayer of coming out of this deep hole. It’s amazing that he got to his feet and made it back to his corner after referee Cotton continued the eight count past the bell. Every one witnessing the slaughter was silently hoping his corner would come to his rescue and save him from himself. Thankfully, Buddy McGirt did just that, and kept Macklin from having to come out for the twelfth round and what was certain to be more punishment. Officially the end of the fight came at the end of the eleventh round. Sergio’s prediction of a knockout came true, and he remains one of the best P4P fighters in the world.

Article posted on 19.03.2012

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