Sergio Martinez escaped with a unanimous decision victory over Martin Murray on Saturday night in Buenos Aires, Argentina. But it wasn't easy.
Martinez defended his WBC middleweight title for the first time and moved to 51-2. All three judges scored the fight, 115-112, for the champion.
Murray made the night very tense for Martinez and his camp. The movement and elusiveness, that has been a major key for Martinez in previous fights, wasn't as effective as it has been in the past.
The challenger even dropped him in the eighth round with a left hook.
Though Murray's pressure and hard straight right hands found their mark with good regularity in the middle rounds, Martinez did enough to eek out a decision.
Thanks to open scoring, ESPN Boxing's official Twitter account gave fans on social media a clue of what to expect.
Martinez was noticeably fresher late and he out-boxed Murray in the 11th and 12th round. I had the champion winning, but he needed the final two rounds to pull out the win in my eyes.
I scored the fight 114-113.
Though Martinez got the unanimous decision, the night did not end without controversy. He seemed to lose his balance after a punch in the 10th round, and he went to the canvas.
It looked like it should have been a knockdown, but it was called a slip. That of course denied Murray another automatic 10-8 round.
On the official scorecards, it wouldn't have changed the outcome. On my scorecard, it would have made the fight a draw.
This was the first time Martinez had fought in front of his hometown fans in 11 years. I'm sure he would have liked to put on a more dazzling performance.
After Saturday night, I'm not sure how many more impressive showings Martinez has left in him. The difficulty in this fight was as much about Martinez's decline as it was Murray's performance.
Because he's 38 years old, Maravilla fans better appreciate him while they can. Though victorious, it appears the end is near for him.
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