"You always say 'I'll quit when I start to slide,' then one morning you wake up and realize you've done slid."
Sugar Ray Robinson said that.
It's been well-documented that Martinez is getting hit more often in his recent fights. On Saturday, he was hit seemingly every time Murray threw a punch. It was clear that something was wrong with the champ from the beginning, and it was alarming to watch him struggle against the English challenger.
Clearly, Murray is a good fighter, but one couldn't help but watch the fight and wonder what Martinez would have done against Murray just a year or two ago. Martinez's quickness and agility were blunted, his punches showed little snap and his reflexes and instincts seemed off. Instead of slipping away from punches, he slipped directly into them.
It's a testament to his unlimited will and heart that he climbed off the mat and won the last couple of rounds. But he had the look of a desperate fighter who thought to himself: "It's not supposed to be this hard."
Incredibly, but maybe inevitably, he showed flashes of the old Martinez in the last two rounds. He danced, slapped Murray with jabs and straight lefts and managed to hurt the Englishman in the 12th round.
Great champions never lose their determination, but sometimes they lose everything else. Is this the beginning of the end for the Argentinian?