Saturday, April 17, 2010

Martinez tops Pavlik for middleweight crown

By John McMullen

Atlantic City, NJ (The Phanatic Magazine) - Sergio Martinez added to his collection of gold Saturday night in Atlantic City.  The reigning WBC super welterweight champion stepped up and dominated Kelly Pavlik to win the WBC and WBO versions of the middleweight title in front of 6,179 at historic Boardwalk Hall.

The 35-year-old Martinez (45-2-2, 24 KOs) dominated the early portion of the fight before Pavlik's size advantage started taking over in the middle rounds.

Pavlik did score a somewhat controversial knockdown in the seventh round when he grazed Martinez, who seemed to trip and stumble to the canvas. The Argentine responded by controlling the fight for the rest of the way with more accurate combinations that bloodied Pavlik’s (36-2) face.

A nasty cut opened up under Pavlik's right eye in the eighth proved to be the difference as the Youngstown, Ohio native struggled to keep Martinez's counter punches from landing from that point forward.

"In the eighth or ninth round he cut me and I couldn't see out of my right eye," Pavlik said. "I couldn't see his left hand. I wasn't hurting - he just hit me with a high volume of punches."

The judges scored it 115-111, 116-111 and 115-112, all for Martinez. The Phanatic Magazine scored it 115-112 for Martinez after reviewing the knockdown.

"Every boxer dreams of being a world champion," Martinez said. "I never stopped dreaming of being a champion, but I always knew that I would be a world champion. Today was a dream come true for me. "

Tonight's bout marked the first fight in Boardwalk Hall's main arena since Oct. 18, 2008, when a near sellout crowd of over 11,000 saw Pavlik suffer his other loss, a lopsided 12-round, unanimous decision to Philadelphia legend Bernard Hopkins in a non-title bout staged at a catch-weight of 170 pounds.

Pavlik was supposed to fight twice in Atlantic City last year, against both Sergio Mora and Paul Williams, but both bouts were postponed as Pavlik suffered through a staph infection in his hand.

Many criticized Pavlik for avoiding the dynamic Williams, billed as one of the most feared fighters in the world, but the tables were turned on Williams back in December in the Ballroom here at Boardwalk Hall when he and Martinez dueled in a classic 12-round slugfest that had Fight of the Year written all over it,

Williams, who was in attendance at tonight's fight, scored a majority decision over Martinez thanks in large part to judge Pierre Benoist, who inexplicably scored the razor-close fight 119-110 in favor of Williams.

Lynne Carter had it 115-113 for Williams and Julie Lederman scored the bout 114-114. The Phanatic Magazine also scored it 114-114 from ringside.

Benoist's strange scorecard especially upset Martinez's promoter, Lou DiBella, who exploded after the announcement.

It all worked out in the end for Martinez, who got the title shot tonight despite the loss and delivered. Now, a rematch with Williams will generate a lot more interest.

In other action Saturday night, undefeated NABA welterweight champ Mike Jones of Philadelphia
kept his crown and added the NABO title in the process by dominating Hector Munoz.

Jones (21-0, 17 KOs) used a significant height advantage to dominate Munoz (18-3-1) from the outset. He staggered the Albuquerque native with a solid left hook in the first round and kept pressing the action from there before the fight was waived off at 2:03 of Round 5.

Veteran heavyweight Dominick Guinn (33-6-1, 22 KOs) kicked off the undercard with a TKO win over journeyman Terrell Nelson (8-10) of Plainfield, NJ. Nelson couldn't answer the bell for the eighth and final round after getting tagged with a straight right at the end of Round 7.

Highly-regarded super lightweight Jeremy Bryan of Paterson, NJ suffered his first loss as a professional when he was knocked cold by New York's Vincent Arroyo (10-1, 7 KOs) at 1:43 of Round 8. Bryan (13-1) had been dominating and would have won an easy decision but couldn't get through the final round. In fact, the scorecards read 70-63, 69-64 and 70-63 for Bryan before the stoppage.

Super welterweight Ronald Hearns (25-1, 19 KOs), the son of boxing icon Thomas "Hitman" Hearns, provided the most fireworks on the undercard, disposing of Delray Raines (17-8-1) at just 1:47 of Round 1.

Meanwhile, super lightweight Ramon Ellis might want to look for another line of work. The Philadelphia native fell to 0-5 in his young career and wasn't even competitive against Chris Hazimihalis (2-0, 2 KOs), losing by TKO at 1:28 of Round 1.

Middleweight Josh Snyder came to the ring to "Eye of the Tiger" but didn't really resemble Rocky Balboa or Hulk Hogan, at least early. The Berlin, MD. native struggled against hard-hitting Russian Olympian Matt Korobov until his superior conditioning gave him an advantage in the later rounds. Korobov (11-0, 8 KOs), however, did enough in the early stages to get the unanimous
decision over Snyder (8-5-1), 79-73, 78-74 and 78-74. The Phanatic Magazine also scored it 78-74.

Another local fighter took to the squared circle in a swing fight before the main event. Passaic's  Glen Tapia (6-0, 4 KOs), who brought along a huge following, stayed undefeated by battering James Winchester (10-4) of Reidsville, NC for four rounds in a super welterweight bout. Tapia almost cost
himself when he swung at the game Winchester after the bell to end the third round but was awarded the shutout, winning 40-35 on all three scorecards.

NOTES: Legendary referee Arthur Mercante, who passed away at 90 earlier this week, was honored with a 10-bell salute before the main event.

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