Sergio Martinez's Blueprint for Taking Down Martin Murray
Sergio Martinez erased all doubts about who the best middleweight in the world was last September when he dominated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in lopsided fashion.
For the 38-year-old Argentine, the work came all too easy for 11.5 rounds before a punch out of the blue deposited him on the mat and almost ended his night.
But a win is a win, and Martinez now moves to the task of once again defending his crown against an undefeated but little known fighter outside of Europe, Martin Murray.
Murray (25-0-1, 11 KO) is known as a boxer and not much of a puncher, but he has a tricky style that can be difficult to solve. And Martinez has struggled in the past with European-style fighters.
It will be tougher work than many probably expect, but here is Martinez's blueprint for taking down Murray.
Sergio Martinez has long dreamed of staging a major boxing event in his native Argentina, and now he has his wish.
Saturday night's contest for the WBC middleweight title will be contested in Buenos Aires at a stadium holding upwards of 50,000 people—all of whom will be there to cheer on their national hero.
The fight has taken on such importance in Argentina that when it was announced, the nation's president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, did the honors.
Boy, can you say distractions?
Martinez has been an elite fighter for several years now but has remained relatively low-key. He's never participated in an event like what we'll see on Saturday.
He needs to make sure he doesn't get lost in the moment and remains focused on the fight.
With more than 40,000 screaming fans in attendance—all there to root for him—it's important that Martinez keeps them in the fight.
It's a huge home-field advantage that he needs to exploit.
In the past against European-style fighters, Martinez has struggled a bit in the early rounds to find his rhythm. That led to surprisingly close fights against Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker before "Maravilla" was able to get through and stop both in the 11th round.
He doesn't want to struggle early and fall behind in the fight, which would allow Murray to take the crowd out of the action. That's the kind of thing that results in upsets.
Another factor that could result in an upset is Murray's status as a relatively unchallenged, unknown fighter. Nobody really knows what he'll bring to the table, and that's a risky element of the fight.
Make no mistake about it: Martinez is still elite. But he's 38 now and coming off a major knee surgery. He doesn't want this to go longer than it needs to go.
Look for him to jump on his opponent early and look to make a huge statement to his country and the world that he is still the best 160-pounder in the world.
Don't Underestimate Murray
Martin Murray is barely known outside of the United Kingdom. He has fought outside of the UK only once, a disputed 2011 draw against Felix Sturm in Germany, and he will be a long way from home.
He's not known as much of a puncher, as evidenced by his paltry 11 knockouts, but a fighter can never underestimate an opponent.
This is especially true when facing an opponent with absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. And that in a nutshell is Murray.
The 30-year-old Brit is not even going to be the most famous person in his corner, since he is promoted by Ricky Hatton. Murray will either head back to the United Kingdom as a champion or return home knowing he gave it his best shot.
If he loses, he was expected to lose. If he wins, he will immediately become an overnight sensation. This type of motivation cannot be underestimated.
Murray is aggressive, which is interesting given his apparent lack of punching power, and that can be used against him in the fight. He's never faced anyone with the power or movement of Sergio Martinez.
The Argentine employs a technically sound and slick southpaw style that utilizes movement and precision punching to break down his opponent. Save for his knockout of Paul Williams, Martinez has never shown much one-punch knockout power, but he can certainly hurt his foe when he lands.
Maravilla can use his movement and ring generalship to make his more aggressive opponent miss and then make Murray pay when he does. And we have no evidence to gauge Murray's chin, as his level of competition thus far doesn't give us any clues.
If he can take Martinez's punches, we might be in for an interesting night. But that's a big if.
Be Aggressive but Economical
While it's important for Sergio Martinez to start fast in the fight, he doesn't want to punch himself out early. He needs to be aggressive but smart and economical with his punches.
With the pressure to impress the crowd and make a statement, it's easy to see how he could be tempted to do too much.
Martinez is one of boxing's late bloomers. His rise to stardom didn't come easy or quickly. But he got here by being precise, fighting within himself and always remaining disciplined.
He will need to attack Martin Murray from the opening bell but can't get lost looking for the early ending. He's 38 now and coming off a major knee operation. This will make it more important than ever for him to conserve some energy and not leave himself short should the fight extend into the later rounds.
Don't forget: Despite dominating Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for 11.5 rounds, Martinez tired and was nearly knocked out in the final round. He'll want to avoid that type of mistake this time.