Ex-World Middleweight Champ Sergio Martinez Fights For Glory Tonight on IBO Card
By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
Madrid, Spain (January 27th, 2022)– Former World Middleweight champion Sergio “La Maravilla” Martinez will fight the fourth bout of a significant comeback attempt tonight, Thursday, January 27, 2022, after a six year absence from the ring due to knee injuries, after losing his title to Miguel Cotto.
Martinez, age 46, 54-3-2 with 30 knockouts, Madrid, Spain, by way of Quilmes, Argentina, is a southpaw on the warpath. After knocking out Jose Miguel Fandino at super middleweight and stopping Jussi Koivula at middleweight in 2020, then winning a 10 round decision over Brian Rose at super middleweight in September 2021, Martinez will attempt yet a fourth comeback win, his sixtieth professional bout, despite ongoing knee issues.
Martinez will fight the preliminary to the main event of a five bout card at Wiznink Center in Madrid against Macaulay McGowan, 14-2-1 with three knockouts, Wythenshawe, United Kingdom, in his fourth consecutive comeback scheduled 10 rounder. The main event will be a brand new title, the International Boxing Organization IberoAmerican Featherweight title, a scheduled 10 round vacant title bout between 15-0 Filipino featherweight prospect Bernard Angelo Torres, fighting out of Gran, Norway, and 13-4-1 Mauro Alex Hasan of Santa Rosa, La Pampa, Argentina. It will be the first title bout for both. The new IBO title might be an interesting title for Martinez’ next fifth comeback bout at middleweight in Spain, if he wins tonight.
The issue with Martinez has to do with the six years of layoff, and how well his surgically repaired knees have healed. His knees were supposedly surgically corrected successfully in 2012, which turned out to be a televised disaster on June 7, 2014, at Madison Square Garden, when Miguel Cotto dropped him three times in round one, and again in round nine. Martinez was down 13 points on the three scorecards 90-77 times three of the three judges, and beyond money, it remained unclear what the bum knee Martinez tried to prove against Cotto, giving up at the start of round ten after nine miserable rounds.
Against Brian Rose at Plaza de Toros in Valdermoro, Spain, on September 25, 2021, Martinez came out ahead on the scorecards 97-94, 97-94, and 96-94, winning six of ten rounds, with one judge scoring one round even. The real story was maneuverability. Clearly Martinez had issues in the later rounds in terms of leg movement against Rose, but hung on to win the bout. Such may not be a major issue against McGowan, who is 14-0 against fighters with losing records, but 0-2-1 against fighters with winning records, not winning a round in his last two consecutive losses, against Kieron Conway and Tursynbay Kulakhmet in 2020. McGowan was dropped in both bouts against these winning fighters.
What Martinez has to fear is his own vulnerability. McGowan has gone the distance 14 times, including twice at eight and 10 rounds, and has never been stopped. In the least, after going ten rounds twice in his last two bouts, the legs of McGowan are good. On the other hand, the legs of Martinez remain questionable, or he would have not have waited over nine months between the Koivula and Rose bouts to test them again. If Martinez cannot move against McGowan, a fighter whose illustrious wins include decisions over 10-198-4 Jason Nesbitt (McGowan’s pro debut), 15-221-12 Kevin McCauley, and 27-164-10 William Walburton, three fighters with a combined 583 losses, who McGowan could not stop, then Martinez should consider returning to Argentina and engaging in a new profession.
The goal of Martinez is to get a shot at Ryota Murata, GGG, or perhaps or Erislandy Lara, the two alternating regular titleholders of the ergularWorld Boxing Association Middleweight title. Murata, 16-2 with 13 knockouts, Tokyo, Japan, was supposed to unify his title against Gennady GGG Golovkin, age 39, 41-1-1 with 36 knockouts, Los Angeles, California by way of Kazakhstan, the International Boxing Federation and International Boxing Organization World Middleweight champion. GGG has been inactive since December 2020, and Murata has been inactive since December 2019.
The country of Japan shut down due to the rising Coronavirus Pandemic, marked by the spread of the Omicron Variant and Stealth Omicron Subvariant. Japan has over 2,347,000 infected as of January 27, 2022, so the odds of a Murata versus GGG reschedule remain remote at present. Famous people such as Sarah Palin, a former United States Vice-Presidential candidate and United States Governor from Alaska, and famous singer and entertainer Elton John, as well United Olympic Bobsled Team member Josh Williamson (who was supposed to be heading to China for the Beijing XXIV Winter Olympics from February 4 to February 20, 2020), have contracted the Coronavirus in last few days.
The Cuban southpaw Lara, age 38, 28-3-3 with 16 knockouts, Houston, Texas, has fought all of 80 seconds since August of 2020, the extent of his WBA Middleweight title “defense” against challenger Thomas LaManna at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, in May 2021. Martinez has to be both health and ready, meaning superbly prepared, for a final titular battle against Murata, GGG or Lara. None of these world champions are a social call for Martinez has the world challenger at age 47, nearly nine years after Martinez had to come off the canvas with his questionable knees to defeat 25-0-1 challenger Martin Murray in April 2013 at Velez Sarsfield Athletic Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina, his world last title win.
Martinez has nine bouts WBC and WBC Diamond world championship experience. The WBC Diamond world title version has been vacant since Saul Canelo Alvarez decisioned Miguel Cotto to win it at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, in November 2015. Martinez has a number of titles and options available, and this reporter has highlighted the best ones and most likely ones for Martinez, given the belts, the worthy championship opponents, and his advanced age, and their ages and abilities. It is all a question of where he is at this point of his comeback in his own mind. Martinez has to know himself, because as Miguel Cotto proved in only the first round, without trying to knock him out, if Martinez could move on his surgically repaired legs at age 40 or so, it will not be an easier road for him at age 47 if he opts to attempt one last title bout. If Martinez is not sure of the road ahead, he should watch Jon Voight as Billy Flynn in the 1979 movie “The Champ”, as facing the music has consequences.
Truth be told, hosting comeback fights in Spain works well for Martinez for the moment.
Martinez could also try former International Boxing Association World Middleweight champion Curtis Stevens, who won the IBA world middleweight belt in July 2018 with a third-round stoppage of Carlos Rafael Cruz in Santiago de los Caballeros, Argentina. Stevens, 30-7 with 22 knockouts, Brownsville, New York, announced his comeback on Boxing Scene yesterday, against 11-4 Eric Moon of Marietta, Georgia, at Melrose Ballroom in Queens, New York, on March 3, 2022.
Perhaps Martinez could try for the vacant IBA title against former champ Stevens later in 2022 if Stevens wins his comeback. Jean Christophe Courreges of France is the current IBA President. Klaus Hagemann of Germany, and International Boxing Hall of Fame referee Steve Smoger of the United States, are the officials currently in charge of the IBA bouts committee. Smoger, who never refereed any of Sergio Gabriel Martinez’ 59 pro bouts during his refereeing career, between 1984 and 2018, is certainly a name and face Martinez would recognize.