Saturday, December 03, 2022  |


Weekend Review: Big nights for Martinez and Bute


Sergio Martinez had reason to celebrate Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J.: He had just outpointed Kelly Pavlik to win THE RING middleweight championship. Photo / Chris Farina-Top Rank


Sergio Martinez: One can argue that the 35-year-old Argentine has beaten Kermit Cintron, Paul Williams and Kelly Pavlik in succession. That’s impressive. Martinez is a tremendous athlete with excellent skills and courage to rival any boxer, as he proved again by fighting off Pavlik’s middle-rounds rally to beat a man who outweighed him by 11 pounds going away. Only hardcore boxing fans knew who he was 14 months ago. Now he must be considered a pound-for-pound candidate even though he drew against Cintron and lost a disputed decision to Williams. And to think that he didn’t step into a boxing gym until he was 20. Remarkable.


Kelly Pavlik: The fall from star status, if Pavlik ever had that, is now complete. I admired the way he battled back to take control of the fight in the middle rounds but I’m disappointed that he wasn’t able to battle through his cuts in the last third of fight, although the blood undoubtedly hindered his sight. The result is his second consecutive loss to an elite, skillful boxer, the first being Bernard Hopkins’ one-sided decision in 2008. I suppose a victory over Martinez in a rematch, if that happens, would restore his image to some degree but he'll never again be perceived as the force he was after his two victories over Jermain Taylor.


Sid Brumback: I hesitate to criticize someone about something I saw on television but it sure looked as if Pavlik’s cut man could’ve done a better job. One sign of trouble: He arrived late to begin working on Pavlik’s first cut in the first round. Another sign of trouble: He seemed utterly inept in his efforts to stem the flow of blood from both of his cuts. Even the broadcasters noted that a capable cut men is normally able to send the fighter out for the beginning of the round with a clean face. I could be wrong but it seemed as if Brumback was in over his head. If he was, his handlers made a terrible mistake that might’ve cost Pavlik the fight.


Lucian Bute: I don’t want to make too much of the Romanian-born Canadian’s victories over Librado Andrade in November and Edison Miranda on Saturday because neither opponent is elite. That said, the manner in which he dominated and then knocked out two extremely tough men was eye-opening. I’ve known for some time that Bute is good – just not this good. Colleague William Dettloff said he is like “Joe Calzaghe with a punch.” I like that characterization. I’d also like to see that fight if Calzaghe comes out of retirement, which seems likely. Calzaghe-Bute. It has a nice ring to it.


SHOBOX CARD: Fernando Guerrero (18-0, 15 KOs) and Shawn Porter (14-0, 11 KOs) needed only a total of 7:28 to stop their opponents Friday night in Salisbury, Md. Guerrero, a Dominican who now calls Salisbury home, received minimal resistance from Mike Walker but looked like a serious middleweight title contender in his second-round knockout. His punches come fast, hard and very accurately. Porter faced a slow, over-the-weight opponent in Raul Pinzon so his first-round KO in another middleweight fight was no surprise. He simply overwhelmed the Colombian slugger. The fight was supposed to have taken place at 154 pounds but Pinzon, who took the fight on short notice, couldn’t even make the 160-pound limit.


Malik Waleed What was the referee for Guerrero-Walker thinking? Guerrero had Walker pinned against the ropes and delivered dozens of unanswered punches yet Waleed, apparently ready to jump in, just stood there and watched. An obviously disgusted ring doctor had to jump into the ring and call a halt to the carnage, perhaps saving Walker from serious injury. Someone needs to tell Waleed that an important part of his job is to protect defenseless fighters, which Walker was. I’m sure experienced referees around the world watched that fight and just shook their heads in astonishment. Let’s hope Waleed learned a lesson if he’s allowed to referee another fight.


W. Klitschko-Haye: Haye vs. a Klitschko brother is the only compelling heavyweight matchup, which is the main reason Wladimir Klitschko is lobbying so hard to make it happen. The fight would capture the attention of the world, which heavyweights are unable to do these days, and probably earn the big Ukrainian the biggest payday of his career. He also would have the opportunity to shut the mouth of a man he obviously doesn’t like. The fight won’t happen, though, at least not yet. Haye isn’t that stupid. He was barely able to beat Nikolai Valuev; he knows the monumental challenge a Klitschko would present. He’ll milk his title for at least a few good paydays and then consider fighting a Klitschko.


The murder of Viera Valero: Edwin Valero had all the talent in the world and the fire within to exploit his abilities to the fullest. Now, after he was alleged to have murdered his wife in a hotel room in Valencia, Venezuela, he seems to have joined the likes of Ike Ibeabuchi and Tony Ayala on the infamous list of what-might-have-beens. Much worse than that, an innocent young woman, the mother of Valero’s two young children, is dead because of an act of extreme violence that we’ll never understand. The thing that keeps running through my mind: what a horrible waste.


Carl Moretti of Top Rank, Edwin Valero’s promotional firm: “When you have someone who's dealing with demons, it keeps going until something like this eventually happens.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]