By: William Holmes
On Saturday, HBO will broadcast a world championship bout in the middleweight division between division kingpin Sergio “Maravilla’ Martinez and challenger Matthew “Mack the Knife” Macklin. While Macklin may not be the big name that Martinez previously desired, the did choose an opponent that will likely bring in a large amount of fans to Madison Square Garden, since Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day and Macklin is a Brit of Irish extraction.
If Martinez can be impressive in victory, it should help his goal of landing a big money fight against either Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr. Martinez has also openly lobbied for a fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., but that appears highly unlikely to ever happen. If Martinez is unimpressive, or even suffers an unlikely upset, he’ll likely toil against another little-known opponent in the middleweight division.
The following is a preview of both the middleweight championship fight, and the televised bout of Edwin Rodriguez and Donovan George.
Edwin Rodriguez (20-0) vs. Donovan George (22-1-1); Super Middleweight
The opening bout of Saturday night is a bout in the Super Middleweight division between two fighters trying to make a name for themselves with the exposure that is granted by being placed on HBO. Edwin Rodriguez is a professional boxer with deep amateur experience. He had a record of 84-9 as an amateur, and was a national Golden Gloves champion in 2006. He’s a Dominican-American boxer and is just starting to enter his prime at the age of 26. He’s the same height as his opponent Donovan George, but he has a six-inch read advantage that he should be able to take advantage of. Of Rodriguez’s 20 victories, 14 have come by KO or TKO.
Rodriguez has faced some quality competition so far in his career, including Aaron Pryor Jr. and James McGirt, two fighters who come from deep boxing families. All of Rodriguez’s opponents have had a winning record since his sixth professional fight. He’s never seemed to be in any danger of losing in any of his fights, and his closest victory to date was over Pryor, which he won with scores of 96-93, 98-91, and 97-92. His last TKO or KO victory was four fights ago against McGirt in November of 2010.
Donovan George will be facing off against Edwin Rodriguez on Saturday. He hasn’t faced the quality of opposition that Rodriguez has, and doesn’t have his deep amateur background, either. He does appear to have the ability to knock Rodriguez out if the latter man is not careful, as 19 of his victories have come by KO or TKO. He lost to Francisco Sierra in July of 2010 by decision, and his biggest victory to date was to be the first person to give Cornelius White a loss on his record in February of 2011. Inactivity may be a problem for George, as he has not fought since April 1st of 2011.
Rodriguez should win this fight, and win easily. He has to be wary of the power of George, but his amateur background and technical boxing ability should help him cruise to an eventual decision. The recent Super Six tournament gave a lot of exposure to the Super Middleweight division, and a win for Rodriguez should land him a fight with a more well-known opponent.
Sergio Martinez (48-2-2) vs. Matthew Macklin (28-3); Ring Middleweight Championship
You’re not going to find any boxing writers who don’t consider Sergio Martinez to be a top five ranked pound for pound fighter. He’s a late bloomer to the sport, is the current Ring middleweight champion, and the WBC Diamond Middleweight champion. There’s also a WBC “regular” champion, Julio Caesar Chavez Jr., — allegedly you can have two champions in the same division from the same sanctioning body.
Regardless, Martinez is a monster, and is undeniably the best middleweight boxer today. He was previously a super welterweight champion, and first fought in the middleweight division against Paul Williams in December of 2009. He lost that bout on the scorecards, though many observers felt Martinez should have been given the nod. He bounced back from that defeat and took the WBC, WBO, and Ring middleweight title from Kelly Pavlik in 2010, and in a rematch, blasted Williams with a brutal 2nd round KO in November of 2010. He won his last two bouts against undefeated fighters Serhiy Dzinziruk and Darren Barker by KO, but he struggled at times against Barker and looked all too human.
Martinez is 37, and father time catches up with us all: that last bout may be a sign that Martinez is starting to decline.
Martinez has fought every big name that has become available to him. His first professional loss was against Antonio Margarito, before the hand wrap scandal came to light. Since then he’s fought Pavlik, Williams (twice), Cintron, Dzinziruk, and Barker. Nobody can claim Martinez is ducking opposition.
Macklin is an opponent that Martinez should have no problems with, and is a fighter that has been given a title shot opportunity despite the fact he lost his previous title shot against Felix Sturm. It was a close split decision, but many observers felt Macklin won–even the German television station that broadcast the fight. Macklin last loss before Sturm was in 2006 to Jamie Moore, and his first loss was in 2003. He has been on a tear since 2006, but Martinez will be by far the toughest opposition that Macklin has ever faced. Macklin has made his career by fighting in Europe, and has only fought in the United States once in 2005.
Martinez has 27 KO or TKO to his record, and Macklin has 19, so neither fighter appears to have a definitive edge in power. Martinez is clearly the boxer with the superior hand speed and technical ability, and has fought the tougher competition.
Martinez should win, and win easily. The bigger question is: will Martinez be able to stop Macklin?