Sergio Martinez Challenges Kelly Pavlik for the Middleweight Championship
On April 17th, WBO and WBC middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik will face by far the toughest test of his career since Bernard Hopkins embarrassed him in a catch-weight bout in 2008. The challenger, Sergio Martinez, is a slick boxer and counter puncher who has all of the tools to upend the potentially rusty champion. But will he be able to get the job done when he has twice come up short in bouts he should have – and perhaps did – win? Take a look at this preview and prediction for the big Kelly Pavlik vs. Sergio Martinez bout.
Pavlik vs. Martinez Preview
Challenger: Sergio Gabriel Martinez
44-2-2 with 24 KOs
5’11” with 76″ reach, southpaw, 35 years old
Current WBC Super Welterweight Champion
Martinez is one of those fighters who, if you did not know much about him, would be easy to underestimate. His first loss was way back in 2000, to none other than hard-punching Antonio Margarito. That was followed by a long winning streak fought mostly outside of his native Argentina, until he met Kermit Cintron in February 2009. Martinez beat Cintron. In fact, he should have beaten Cintron by knockout in the 7th – in another example of boxing’s sometimes stinky shenanigans, somehow Cintron’s claims that he thought he had been put down by a clash of heads rather than a punch were enough to restart the fight.
The result was a highly questionable Majority Draw, when Martinez out-boxed Cintron by a good margin, out-landing him by a 3-2 margin. Martinez then fought Paul “The Punisher Williams” in a tooth-and-nail war that ProBoxing-Fans.com scored 115-113 for Martinez. It was a close fight and Williams, the better-known and better-promoted fighter, went home with a Majority Decision.
So, when you look at Martinez, what you should see a good, all-around 154 lbs. boxer-puncher with that awkward southpaw stance who has not truly lost a fight in more than ten years.
Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik
36-1 with 32 KOs
6’2 1/2″ with 75″ reach, 27 years old
Current WBC and WBO Middleweight Champion
Kelly Pavlik was once such a hot commodity that Hillary Clinton’s run for the Presidency ran right through his gym in Youngstown, Ohio. Now “The Ghost” is somewhat less substantial than he used to be. He first came to notice for knocking out Edison Miranda, and then vaulted to fame and the championship with two back-to-back wins over Jermain Taylor. Miranda is now the division’s gatekeeper, while it is clear that Taylor’s decline from world-beater status began with his “win” over Cory Spinks.
Following his loss to ageless wonder Bernard Hopkins, Pavlik’s career seems to have entered the Phantom Zone. He fought twice in 2009 against opponents who could only charitably be described as fringe contenders, all the while looking for a way to gracefully duck out of a clash with Paul Williams.
Kelly Pavlik vs. Sergio Maritnez Prediction & Analysis
Pavlik is vulnerable. He has not fought a true contender since being whipped by Bernard Hopkins a year and a half ago, and the failure to make the Williams fight work hints at a lack of confidence on the part of Pavlik’s team. Pavlik has also never fought a skilled southpaw, unless you count a shopworn Bronco McKart. In particular, Pavlik has a problem with guys who move, and to fire his big right he needs to firmly plant his feet. If Martinez keeps moving, he will neutralize Pavlik’s best weapon against a southpaw: a hard lead right.
Martinez on the other hand is coming to his own and will be focused, determinedand in the best shape of his life. From his point of view, he won his last two fights and was robbed of both victories. He cannot let that happen a third time, not at his age. He has the tools to beat Pavlik, and the game plan for doing so is pretty clear. He may be a little undersized for a big middleweight like Pavlik, but that will not be enough to make a difference. While Pavlik does have better than a mere puncher’s chance, he is not the favorite to win this bout and keep his belts.
Pavlik vs. Martinez Prediction: Martinez UD12