Very rarely, and as time goes on it seems to become less and less, boxing fans get spoiled. For many years New Jersey boxing fans were spoiled when they made the trip to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The city, the crowd, the night life, the atmosphere and the fights were better than ever. By the time the fans heard ACDC’s “Thunderstruck” starting up, the arena was packed and most fans could already feel chills going down their spine. Fortunately, Top Rank, DiBella, and HBO are still doing business at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City and trying to put on good shows for the fans. While Atlantic City boxing will never be the
same, and the atmosphere was not the same, the fans were treated to a good fight in the main event on Saturday night highlighted by an exceptional performance, not by favorite Kelly Pavlik, but from middleweight challenger and recent surprise, Sergio Martinez.
A couple days after what would have been Gatti’s 38th birthday and four months after losing a close and controversial majority decision to Paul Williams, Martinez was inspired to win the middleweight championship of the world. While Pavlik was the bigger and stronger fighter and also fought valiantly, Martinez fought a very determined and brilliant last 4 rounds to leave no doubt in the mind of the 3 official judges.
Martinez cut Pavlik around both eyes and overcame a knockdown in the 7th round to win the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization 160-pound titles. All three judges were accurate with there scores, Roberto Ramirez (116-111), Craig Metcalfe (115-112) and Barbara Perez (115-111), awarding Martinez a unanimous decision.
Martinez, who fights out of Argentina, improved to 45-2-2. Pavlik, of Youngstown, Ohio, slipped to 36-2, and lost a second straight fight at Boardwalk Hall and suffered his first defeat as a professional at middleweight. His other loss to Bernard Hopkins was at 170 pounds, 10 pounds north of the middleweight limit.
The 35- year old Martinez was the faster and fresher looking fighter for most of the night and showed that he was in great shape. It appeared Martinez and his camp did their homework and had a great fight plan which Sergio did a great job executing. Martinez out-boxed Pavlik, and even started show boating for the first 4 rounds. However, Pavlik began to take control of the fight when he started to get his distance and timing down and started to look like he had Martinez figured out. It appeared that Martinez could not hurt Pavlik and that the stronger Pavlik was taking over. In the 7th round, referee David Fields credited Pavlik with a knockdown when Kelly connected with a right hand although it was questionable and Martinez claimed their legs got tangled.
While it appeared Pavlik was taking over in the middle rounds and Martinez was fading, the tide would turn again. . In the past Martinez has often tried to pick his spots too often and a lack of productivity and power appeared to lead to his close loss to Paul Williams. However, Martinez would not be denied this time. He opened cuts over both eyes of Pavlik and it did not appear the corner was able to get them to close as Kelly ‘s face was covered with blood in each of the last 4 rounds. It appeared the blood and desire to win fueled Sergio’s fire and he swept the final 4 rounds locking up the fight. Kelly walked though most of the punches, but the speed, angles and blood in his eyes seemed to be more than he could overcome.
Martinez will fight a rematch with Pavlik if Kelly chooses to ask for it and stay at 160 pounds. The fight Lou Di Bella and team Martinez seemed to want most was with Antonio Margarito. Both fighters will have important decisions to make in the near future.
Impressive welterweight prospect Mike Jones, 20-0, 16 KO"s scored an impressive 5th round TKO in the 5th round over Hector Munoz, 18-2-1, 11 KO's.
In a featured junior-welterweight bout, Vincent Arroyo, 10-1, 7 KO’s, of Buffalo, N.Y., scored an eighth-round knockout and big upset over over Paterson New Jersey’s Jeremy Bryan, 13-1, 6 KO’s in their junior welterweight bout. Bryan was up big on all 3 cards and halfway through the final round when disaster struck. Bryan,13-1, 6 KO's, was hurt by one of Arroyo’s left hooks to the head and attempted to take a knee just before Arroyo landed the controversial punch. The next Arroyo punch landed and knocked Paterson’s Bryan flat on his back, unable to continue 1:43 into the final round of the junior welterweight bout, but the punch when appeared to land when Bryan’s left knee was on the canvas.
According to Bryan’s handlers, they intend to file a protest Monday with the State Athletic Control Board, which regulates boxing in the state and feel the bout should be ruled a no contest. The argument is that the fighter was down and most ringside observers felt he was down when he was hit with the knock out punch the same as Andre Direll with Arthur Abraham recently and Montell Grifinn with Roy Jones the first time they fought years ago (in both of those fights fighters were hit while they were down, appeared to be knocked unconscious and received wins by disqualification).
Glenn Tapia, 6-0, 4 KO’s dropped Winchester, 10-4, 3 KO’s, of Reidsville, N.C., with a short left hook 25 seconds into the second round en route to a 4 round unanimous decision. Tapia swept all 3 rounds on all 3 judges scorecards.
Light middleweight, Ronald Hearns, 24-1, 18 KO's scored a KO at 1:47 of round number one over Delray Raines, 17-7, 12 KO's.