By Ivan G. Goldman
Game but aging Sergio Martinez won a questionable decision over rugged Englishman Martin Murray in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday while across the equator in Ontario, California the judges had it right when Haitian-born Bermane Sitverne won almost every round against American heavyweight hope Chris Arreola. Arreola couldn’t overcome a broken nose he suffered in the third round.
HBO carried both shows, sending crews to two locations as its rivalry with Showtime boxing seemed to reach a crescendo.
The judges had it 115-112 Martinez on all three cards. Martinez, 38, looking his age at times and frequently showboating for his hometown fans, took lots of chances against previously undefeated Murray, who turned out to be a solid middleweight who could take a punch and dish it out too. Murray scored a solid knockdown in the eighth round. It wasn’t the only time Martinez, tasted canvas in the hard-fought match, but the referee called the others slips.
Murray, working behind a peek-a-boo defense, stuck to his game plan, trying to throw shots that counted, while Martinez, the reigning WBC titlist and generally considered the Number One middleweight in the world, wasted energy trying to open him up.
Sergio, who trains out of Oxnard, California, was pushing his luck on many counts. He’s pushing forty, he’s a natural junior middleweight competing against bigger men, and he held his gloves at his waist for much of the fight even though his reaction time isn’t what it used to be. Consequently, he got tagged a lot more than he was used to. He drew about 40,000 fans into a soccer stadium, and they saw a good match, though it wasn’t a perfect night for Argentina by any means.
Murray said afterward he should have opened up more, but his bigger mistake by far appeared to be taking the fight in Argentina.
In California, Arreola, who was America’s brightest heavyweight hope up until last night, won the first two rounds fairly easily, but Stiverne showed toughness and quick hands. When he put Arreola down with a solid right in the third, Arreola came up with blood pouring out his nose. His eyes and nose began swelling up almost immediately. He stayed gamely in the fight, but very much slowed down. He was far too inactive and threw pushing, slow punches in most of the later rounds. He had his moments, but he took a savage beating, refusing to quit.
Stiverne had an excellent game plan and pursued it beautifully, peppering Arreola with a variety of shots, many of them to the body. It was a clean sweep for Stiverne on the judges’ cards with scores of 117-110 twice and 118-109. Busted-up Arreola, who didn’t dispute the scores, congratulated the winner and said he would be back. Arreola, 32, has now lost his three biggest matches, and a major heavyweight title faded even further into the distance.
Stiverne, 34, who’d never faced a world-class opponent in his prime, was evidence once again that there’s plenty of talent out there ready to step up to the world stage. He improved to 23-1-1 (20 KOs). His victory is supposed to earn him a shot at WBC title-holder Vitali Klitschko, but Vitali has been quite active lately in Ukraine politics and may retire. The victory might instead set up an eventual shot against Vitali’s brother Wladimir, who holds all three other major titles.
Ivan G. Goldman’s critically acclaimed novel Isaac: A Modern Fable came out in April 2012 from Permanent Press. Information HERE