By Jackie Kallen
OK, I admit it. I love Sergio Martinez. Not romantically, of course, although I do think he’s rather handsome. I mean as a fighter. He may not be a household name outside the boxing world, but he is a hell of a fighter.
I have been a fan ever since he beat Alex Bunema in 2008. A fighter I used to manage, Bronco McKart, had fought Bunema so I was curious to see what Martinez would do with him. He retired him in the 8th round. I was impressed. Bronco went 12 rounds to a split decision.
The next Martinez fight I saw was his draw with Kermit Cintron a few months later in Florida. It was a close fight and some ringsiders felt Cintron won. But it goes down as a draw and Martinez went on from there to lose a decision to Paul Williams in December 2009. Some writers were quick to write Martinez off and doubt his abilities (as well as his punching power.)
Four months later, in Atlantic City, he won a unaminous decision against Kelly Pavlik to win the WBO and WBC middleweight belts. This win seemed to infuse him with a renewed vigor and drive. He knocked Paul Williams silly seven months later and did the same to previously unbeaten Serhiy Dzinziruk in March 2011.
His only other outing last year was his face-off against another undefeated prospect–Darren Barker. He took Barker out in the 11th round and looked strong and focused. Here we are, five months later, and Martinez will oppose 28-3 Matthew Macklin from the UK at Madison Square Garden.
Not knowing much about Macklin, I feel, of course, that Martinez will beat him. But how easily is the question. Macklin is 5’10” and has a 61% KO rate. Martinez is the same height and has a 52% KO ratio. The possible advantage for Martinez, besides having faced better opposition, is the fact that Martinez is a southpaw. That could prove to be tricky for Macklin.
Macklin lost a close spilt decision to Felix Strum last June and hasn’t fought since. No telling how the loss effected him or if he is rusty at all. His list of opponents is hardly a Who’s Who of pugilism. Can he come over to the US and dominate over a man who is hot at the moment? I don’t think so.
Assuming he beats Macklin, who would I next want to see Martinez fight? Well, there is always Felix Sturm. That could be an interesting fight. And I know that Andy Lee would probably love a shot at him. Chavez, jr.? Is he ready for someone like Martinez? I’d wait a few fights if he were my boxer.
The middleweight division is not exactly what it once was, and there are not too many exciting match-ups out there. But if Sturm, Martinez, Lee, Chavez Jr. and Paul William all mixed it up, it could be fun to watch.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen