Thursday, December 01, 2022  |


Head to head: Pavlik-Martinez


Sergio Martinez made big statements in controversial losses to Kermit Cintron and Paul Williams. A victory over Kelly Pavlik on Saturday would be a major breakthrough for the Argentine fighter. Photo / Chris Farina-Top Rank


When: Saturday, April 17

Where: Atlantic City, N.J.

TV: HBO, 7 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET

Weight: Middleweight (160-pound limit)

Title(s) at stake: Pavlik’s RING championship; Pavlik’s WBC and WBO belts


The essentials

Age: 28

Height / Reach: 6-2¾ (189cm) / 75 (191cm)

Stance: Orthodox

Hometown: Youngstown, Ohio

Nickname: The Ghost

Turned pro: 2000

Record: 36-1 (32 knockouts)

Trainer: Jack Loew


The Ring rating: Middleweight champion

Titles: WBC and WBO middleweight (2007-present).

Biggest victories: Edison Miranda, May 19, 2007, TKO 7; Jermain Taylor, Sept. 29, 2007, TKO 7 (won titles); Taylor, Feb. 16, 2008, UD 12.

Loss: Bernard Hopkins, Oct. 18, 2008, UD 12 (at light heavyweight).


The essentials

Age: 35

Height / reach: 5-11 (180cm) / 76 (193cm)

Stance: Southpaw

Hometown: Madrid, Spain (from Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Nickname: Maravilla

Turned pro: 1997

Record: 44-2-2 (24 knockouts)

Trainer: Gabriel Sarmiento


The Ring rating: No. 1 junior middleweight

Titles: WBC junior middle (2009-present)

Biggest victories: Saul Roman, April 27, 2007, KO 4 (title eliminator); Alex Bunema, Oct. 4, 2008, TKO 8 (interim title).

Losses and key draw: Antonio Margarito, Feb. 19, 2000, TKO by 7; Kermit Cintron, Feb. 14, 2009, majority draw; Paul Williams, Dec. 5, 2009, MD 12


Skills: Pavlik is a strong-willed, powerful technician with underrated combination- and counter-punching ability. The middleweight champ makes use of a solid jab to set up his power shots, but his sneaky body punching is a key component in his ability to physically overwhelm most opponents. Martinez is a stick-and-move specialist who can stand and slug it out when he needs to. The Argentine southpaw mixes sharp, accurate punching with world-class speed and reflexes to befuddle, outmaneuver and gradually beat up his opponents. His excellent timing gives him an edge over most opponents, and his versatility will likely give Pavlik problems.
Edge: Martinez

Power: Pavlik’s heavy hands have stopped 32 of his 36 opponents. Many of the top fighters and fringe contenders Pavlik has KO’d were known for their solid chins. Taylor, Miranda, Fulgencio Zuniga, Bronco McKart, Jose Luis Zertuche, Miguel Espino, and Gary Lockett had never been halted in the pro ranks before stepping into the ring with Pavlik. Martinez has respectable power, which was evident during his 12-round war with Williams, and his speed enables him to deliver KO or knockdown shots that his opponents often don’t see coming, but he lacks the brute physical strength and blunt power of the middleweight champ.
Edge: Pavlik

Speed and athletic ability: While Pavlik is a strong and durable athlete with better reflexes than most give him credit for, he possesses average speed and has limited mobility. Martinez, on the other hand, is one of the sport’s quickest and most agile boxers. The southpaw’s hands and feet are not only fast, but fluid. His timing is aided by excellent balance, superb reflexes and sharp hand-eye coordination. Martinez, a world-class cyclist who turned to boxing in his late teens, is the definition of the boxer-athlete.
Edge: Martinez

Defense: Pavlik is better at keeping his hands up and at least trying to block or parry incoming shots than Martinez, but the elusive southpaw does a better job of slipping and maneuvering his head and body away from punches.
Edge: Martinez

Experience: Martinez has more fights and has gone more rounds during his pro career but Pavlik has been in with a slightly higher level of competition thanks to his 12-rounder with Hopkins and his two bouts former middleweight champ Taylor.
Edge: Even

Chin: Both Pavlik and Martinez have solid, but not iron-clad jaws. Pavlik has been down three times in his pro career (versus Taylor, Bronco McKart, and Zuniga). Martinez was down in the first round of his only two losses, to Williams and Margarito. The fourth-round knockdown Pavlik suffered against McKart was of the flash variety. He wasn’t hurt. Pavlik was buzzed a little by a left hook from Zuniga, which dropped him in the first round of their 2005 bout, and he was legitimately rocked by right crosses and left hooks from Taylor before he fell to the canvas in the second round of their first bout. However, Pavlik has impressive recuperative ability and he quickly recovered (as soon as the very next round) to eventually score stoppages in those bouts. Martinez also recuperates well. He got up from his first-round knockdowns (both of which were questionable) to box and fight effectively, even though he lost those bouts. The Margarito stoppage (TKO by 7) was more the result of the Mexican’s pressure and body punching, not direct shots to Martinez’s chin.
Edge: Even

Conditioning: Both fighters put their bodies through excruciating camps to able to fight hard for 12 rounds. Pavlik’s routines are geared more to strength and durability, while Martinez’s is more endurance oriented, but both fighters have a history of being in tip-top shape for their fights.
Edge: Even

Wear and tear: Despite his age (35) and number of fights (48), Martinez is well preserved in part due to his ring style but also because of his late start to the pro ranks. Pavlik, who at 28 is still in his prime, had an extensive amateur career and has a rough-and-tumble style but his punching power has limited the rounds and punishment he’s had to endure in the pro ranks. Although both have been in tough fights (Martinez vs. Williams, Pavlik vs. Hopkins) neither fighter has taken an extended beating.
Edge: Even

Corner: Although Jack Loew and Gabriel Sarmiento train other fighters (mainly young prospects) both coaches are known primarily for their work with Pavlik and Martinez, respectively. Both trainers recognize what makes their fighter special in terms of style, physical tools and temperament, and both have helped maximize those attributes.
Edge: Even

Outcome: Martinez's hand speed and movement will trouble Pavlik throughout the fight. The athletic southpaw will land flush lefts and right hooks that may rock and bloody the champ but Pavlik's long jab and high guard will limit Martinez's contact in the early rounds as the challenger looks to establish range and get into his rhythm. As quick as Martinez’s feet and reflexes are his habit of keeping his hands down will enable Pavlik to land single jabs and the occasional long-range right, punches that will have more effect than the challenger’s. The two will exchange with even success in the middle rounds, but Pavlik's gradual pressure will eventually force Martinez to the ropes where the Ohioan's body attack will rob the challenger of his conditioning and eventually his will to win.

Prediction: Pavlik by late stoppage.

Michael Rosenthal contributed to this report