By Sean Crose
Former lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez announced his retirement on Saturday night during International Boxing Hall Of Fame festivities in Canastota, New York. Martinez, who suffered from injuries and a crushing defeat at Madison Square Garden last year to Miguel Cotto, seemed to have been trying to make up his mind for quite some time as to whether he wanted to continue fighting or not.
At forty years of age, however, the popular Argentinian decided to pack it in. Thanking his mother and father, as well as his team and fan base, Martinez didn’t so much surprise the fight world with his announcement as he did surprise it with the timing of the occasion.
It was arguably fitting, though, that the man called Maravilla chose to announce his retirement at the International Hall of Fame. Having lived until the age of 20 before stepping into a boxing ring, Martinez travelled all the way to Spain to ply his trade.
He was not, however, initially successful, at least not in an economic or public awareness sense. When American promoter Lou DiBella watched footage of the man, however, Martinez found himself with a new promoter and was arguably on his way.
Indeed, Martinez’ record was – and remains – most impressive. With 51 wins, 28 by knockout, he was indeed a feared competitor. The fact that his three loses were all to enormous names in the fight world: Maragrito, Williams, and Cotto, only serves to enrich his legacy.
In the end, however, it may have been physical injury (or injuries), rather than a deterioration of his formidable skill set, that forced Martinez to retire. For Martinez’ knee was an issue in his homecoming fight against rugged Englishman Martin Murray in 2013.
After several operations, Martinez felt he was once again healthy enough to fight when he battled Cotto last June in a pay per view superbout. Unfortunately for Martinez, he proved to be sadly mistaken. For the fight was a complete and total blowout, with an outclassed and hobbled Martinez eventually stopping on his stool in the tenth.
Still, Martinez will most likely be remembered for much more than his last outing. An extraordinary winning streak that lasted close to thirty straight fights comes to mind, as do victories over Julio Caesar Chavez Jr and Kelly Pavlick. Martinez will most likely be remembered, however, for his single punch knockout of Williams in 2010.
Few would argue that wasn’t a shot for the ages, just as few wouldn’t argue that this most unlikely of champions (he didn’t turn pro until he was over twenty-one) didn’t leave his mark on the fight world. Interestingly enough, Martinez, unlike many fighters, excelled at other sports besides boxing. A cyclist and soccer player, the man has very much been an all-around athlete.
He found his greatest success in the boxing ring, however, as a unique fighter with an awkward style. True enough, many, if not most, analysts believe the man would have given Cotto fits a year ago, had he been healthy.