Saturday night at the Theater in Madison Square Garden, Sergio Martinez (48-2-2, 28 KOs) defended his WBC Diamond Belt against a tough opponent in Matthew Macklin (28-4, 19 KOs). In a crowd that was mainly backing Macklin—due to his Irish background—it was as if Martinez was fighting in his opponent's backyard.
It was a fight that started off slow-paced, where there wasn't that much action from either fighter in the opening rounds. Martinez would throw a couple of jabs at Macklin, back out and circle around to try and find the best position to attack. Macklin's strategy was to start the fight cautiously and slowly put the pressure on Martinez.
Martinez didn't look like the highly touted pound-for-pound fighter that sportscasters have praised him to be. Just like in his last fight against Barker, he didn't offer a lot of action early on in the fight and was more focused on counter-punching Macklin. While he did land some good shots, it wasn't as effective in stopping the challenger, who was eight years his junior.
From the third round on, Macklin seemed to take control of the fight. He started to land some hard shots on the inside while Sergio tried to dodge and counter them. It also helped that the crowd erupted in a cheer every time Macklin hit Martinez. Sergio would go on to land some pretty hard shots too, he would occasionally rattle Macklin and back him up with a left straight.
During the eighth round, Macklin was able to knock down Martinez by having him touch his glove to the canvas after being hit. It was an arguable knockdown that looked like it was a push. The ref counted it, though, because Macklin was able to hit Martinez before he touched the canvas.
This fired Martinez up and he went on the offensive to try and make it a 9-9 round by charging Macklin. Before the bell rang to end the round, it looked like it was going to be an all-out brawl.
Macklin came into the ninth round confident, but from there on out, everything was Sergio Martinez. He became more offensive-minded: he started attacking more and launching more combinations at Macklin. His left straight was beginning to land at-will and Macklin was beginning to wear down.
This continued on until the 11th round, the same round where he KO'd his last opponent Darren Barker. Martinez was beating Macklin down and was looked physically spent as the round went on. In the final minute of the round, Martinez landed a straight left onto Macklin's chin that send him to the canvas.
With a few seconds left in the round, Martinez chased Macklin and threw everything he had to go for the KO. He landed another left straight right before the bell rang to knock Macklin down again. He was able to get up again, but his face was bloodied and he was exhausted. His trainer knew better than to have his fighter carry on with this beating and called it off, giving Martinez another KO in 4 straight fights.
With another win under his belt, Martinez is now faced with the difficult decision of what to do with his next fight. Will he stay and continue to fight at middleweight, despite not being able to fight the other titleholders? Or, will he go down to the junior middleweight division where there are plenty of big money fights?
Whatever his choice may be, Martinez will come to fight and will not let his age slow him down one bit.