Let’s begin with the Sergio Martinez vs. Martin Murray bout.
Fighting in his home country for the first time in more than a decade, middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (51-2-2 28KO) managed to survive a stiff challenge from Englishman Martin Murray (25-1-1 11KO) to win a close, controversial unanimous decision victory.
All three judges had Martinez winning with scores of 115-112.
In the pouring rain and in front of 50,000 fans, the fight started slowly, as Murray seemed content to stay in a defensive posture while Martinez potshot the challenger with straight shots to the body and keeping his hands low to entice Murray to attack.
Beginning in the fourth round, Murray became more aggressive and landed several eye-catching combinations on the Argentine. Martinez battled back to make the round close but Murray became more confident.
The challenger continued to find success in the fifth and sixth rounds as he connected with excellent combinations and put pressure on the champion. Martinez responded aggressively but continued to fight with his hands down.
This mistake would make itself clear as Murray dropped Martinez with a jab and straight right on the chin while Martinez was backing up straight. If it wasn’t already obvious, Martinez now knew that his championship was in severe risk and was likely behind on the scorecards.
Martinez adjusted by going back to his jab and simply trying to outwork Murray. However, a slip in the tenth round that could have been ruled another knockdown against Martinez provided more controversy.
In the last two rounds, Martinez did what champions must do to win by taking control of the fight with one-two combos and making Murray miss. A solid combination by the champion had Murray backing up as if he was hurt and would ultimately cost him the fight as Martinez finished much stronger.
The wide world of the internet screamed “robbery” as soon as the scorecards were read but I wouldn’t quite call it that. It was a very close fight with several rounds able to go to either guy. The supposed second knockdown in the tenth round was ruled a slip because Murray’s foot was on Martinez’ foot when the punch landed. In other words, it was debatable whether the punch put Martinez on the canvas or whether it was their feet getting tangled.
I scored the fight 114-113 for Martinez. But, keep in mind I have no objections with people saying that Murray deserved the win. I thought he didn’t fight hard enough in the last three rounds.
It was reported later that Martinez broke his left hand in the fight and will likely be out of action for the remainder of the year at least. He’s 38 and not getting any younger. He definitely didn’t look like the slick, powerful fighter that knocked out the likes of Paul Williams, Sergi Dzinziruk, and Matthew Macklin.
Murray deserves another title shot based on his performance and the fact one can argue he actually should be undefeated and should have beaten former titleholder Felix Sturm to win his first belt last year. He’ll be a tough challenge for anybody.