At the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, two of the most avoided fighters in boxing created an instant classic nearly a year ago. In their first encounter Paul Williams and Sergio Martinez traded brutal punches, knockdown, and fought to a 12-round war that ended in a controversial loss for Martinez.
In the most anticipated fight of 2010, their rematch started off the same way but ended in the second round with one crushing left hook.
Williams started off the first round by pressuring and backing up Martinez with combinations and precision punching. Martinez would throw one punch at a time and in the second round landed a devastating left to Williams' jaw that dropped the fighter to the canvas.
A raucous, pro-Williams crowd that was on their feet for the first four minutes of the bout were left stunned and shocked in utter silence.
Williams attempted a lead left, but Martinez ducked underneath and threw a wide left hook that landed flush on his opponent's jaw. The challenger’s eyes rolled into the back of his head, collapsed face first onto the canvas and the referee counted to seven before waving the fight off.
Doctors immediately came into the ring as Williams lay motionless for several minutes.
Martinez ran across the ring in celebration of his victory in what HBO commentator Jim Lampley has labeled as “knockout of the year.”
“I didn’t want the judges to rob me this time,” said Martinez. “I knew I was going to knock him out.”
Several minutes later, Williams finally was able to make it to his feet and seemed to have cleared his head.
“I got caught with a punch,” Williams told HBO’s Max Kellerman while still being attended to.
Last December, Williams and Martinez engaged in a fight of the year candidate that Williams won by a razor-close decision that could’ve gone either way. One judge scored their first fight 119-110, meaning Williams won 10 of the 12 back-and-forth rounds between the fighters. That scorecard caused controversy not only between the fighters but also among the promoters and fans.
Martinez wasn’t going to allow this fight to go the distance and leave the decision in the judges' hands. His promoter Lou DiBella said, “Martinez said, 'I’m going to knock him out. This fight isn’t going to go seven rounds. I’m going to knock him out.'"
Martinez turned professional when he was 20 years old and seems to have just entered his prime. After losing to Williams the first time around, Martinez was coming off of April’s unanimous decision win against Kelly Pavlik, earning him the WBC Middleweight Title.
With the victory, Martinez now is (46-2-2) with 25 wins by the way of knockout, and Williams falls to (39-2) throughout his career. Martinez evened the score with Williams, which for now erases the memory of December 2009 when he left his opponent with severe cuts around his eyes that required stitches.
What’s next for Martinez? After destroying one of the most feared fighters in boxing, it’s hard to think Mayweather or Pacquiao would be up for the challenge. Possibly a third fight with Williams is in order to close out the trilogy.
“I want to listen to all offers and see what comes my way,” said Martinez.