Sergio Martinez and his handlers didn’t want to fight Sergei Dzinziruk, an excellent technician who could potentially make any fighter look bad. Martinez isn’t any fighter, though.
The gifted Argentine outjabbed the jabber. He outboxed the boxer. And, no surprise, he outslugged and then stopped another inferior opponent in the eighth round to retain the middleweight championship and maintain his remarkable momentum Saturday in Mashantucket, Conn.
The end came at 1:43 of the eighth after Martinez put Dzinziruk down three times in the round, apparently hurting him worse each time. Dzinziruk went down two other times in the one-sided fight.
The victory wasn’t as dramatic as his one-punch second-round knockout of Paul Williams in his previous fight. However, this one might’ve been more impressive.
First, you have to consider the opponent. Dzinziruk (37-1-, 23 knockouts) wasn’t well known in the United States but he was undefeated and insiders knew him to be a superb boxer, particularly his machine-like right jab.
And then consider what happened: Martinez made the Ukrainian look as if he was in way over head, beating him with his own signature punch to do it.
Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs) pumped his quick right hand into Dzinziruk’s face from beginning to end, thus nullifying Dzinziruk’s jab and setting up power punches as the frustrated Ukrainian struggled to cope.
The quicker, more-athletic champ beat Dzinziruk to the punch at almost every turn and threw many more punches (593-413, according to CompuBox). Add to that the fact Martinez also is the much harder puncher and you get a rout.
Martinez put Dzinziruk down in the fourth round, reportedly the first time Dzinziruk has ever been down in any fight at any level. The same thing happened in the sixth. And although a desperate Dzinziruk rallied a bit in Rounds 6 and 7, he got to know the canvas well in Round 8.
A left to the chin. Down! A combination. Down! A right hand that grazed the head. Down and out! Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. mercifully ended the fight there, leaving Martinez a spectacular winner once again and an excellent opponent utterly beaten.
“I was able to press the accelerator, change up the pace and put him down,” Martinez said of the knockout, speaking through a translator.
The sensational victory is Martinez’s third in a row against an elite opponent.
THE RING’s No. 4 fighter pound for pound outpointed Kelly Pavlik to win the RING middleweight championship last April and then stopped Williams in their much-anticipated rematch in November. That followed fights against Kermit Cintron (draw) and Williams (majority-decision loss) that many believe he won.
Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. – and possibly Nonito Donaire – rank above him in pound-for-pound rankings. However, no fighter has accomplished more than Martinez over the past two years when you consider his opponents.
And he has done it all in his mid-30s. Martinez, a late come to boxing, is 36.
“It’s a dream of mine,” he said, “it obsesses me. I want to be the No. 1 fighter pound for pound. And I will attain it.”
No one will be surprised if he does.
The co-feature also ended in dramatic fashion.
Craig McEwan of Scotland outboxed Irishman Andy Lee for the first half of a scheduled 10-round super middleweight fight and appeared to be on his way to an upset victory. However, Lee rallied late and stopped McEwan 56 seconds into the 10th and final round.
Lee (25-1, 19 KOs) put McEwan (19-1, 10 KOs) down late in the ninth round, hurting him in the process. In the 10th, with McEwan wobbled and tired, Lee continued to fire until finally ending the fight with a perfect left that left McEwan prone on the canvas.
Photo / Emily Harney