The Ring All-Star Report Cards: Sergio Martinez
Note: This feature originally appeared in the October edition of THE RING magazine. The November issue, with Floyd Mayweather Jr. on the cover, is on newsstands now. The cover story is titled: “10 Guys Who Would Have Kicked Mayweather's Butt.”
It was out with the old and in with the new as THE RING composed this year’s All-Star Report Cards. Gone from last year’s survey are such old warhorses as Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Chris John and Israel Vazquez. In place of those fighters were newer, fresher names like Yuriorkis Gamboa and Timothy Bradley, a sign that new blood is being pumped into the sport. Meanwhile, names like Sergio Martinez and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam show that our All-Star list always has room for veterans, provided they’re still producing in the ring.
Aside from the youth movement, other trends have emerged this year. For instance, there is a noticeable dip in Mexican or Mexican-American fighters among our 20 All-Stars. When THE RING first compiled this roster in 2003, there were five such fighters listed; this year, there is one. Also, the number of fighters born in the United States shrunk from 13 in 2003 to a measly four this year. Lopez and Miguel Cotto are U.S. citizens by way of Puerto Rico, but they didn’t learn their stuff in the American amateur system, so they can’t be counted. Brits are on the rise, though. There was only one Brit All-Star in 2003, but three made the list this year, sans Hatton.
Perhaps you’re wondering why some of your favorite fighters didn’t make the list, but rest assured that many other fighters were given close consideration. It’s just that some fighters seem to lose fights as we’re creating our list, and others just fall a bit short in terms of box office and general excitement value.
The 20 fighters who made it weren't chosen solely on their ability to sell tickets and attract cable customers but the ability to fill seats definitely plays a big part in our selection process. Some fighters, Nonito Donaire for example, might not yet be a legitimate star on the level of Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao, but we felt he can compete with the best in terms of talent, and is certainly on his way to stardom.
Those who were removed from last year’s list are gone because they simply didn’t do enough to merit inclusion this year. The one exception is the late Edwin Valero. He made it last time, and there was every reason to believe he’d repeat.
With that in mind, here are the 2010 All-Star Report Cards. The fighters are judged on talent, achievement, marketability, support system, and growth potential. They are presented in order of weight class, starting with the heavyweights.
Today: Sergio Martinez. Tomorrow: Paul Williams.
RING middleweight champion
TALENT: Martinez may possess the whitest teeth in boxing today, along with the most suspicious suntan this side of George Hamilton But he’s a dervish of a boxer, circling opponents with his hands low, and then luring them in to land his wicked counter punches. Quick, smart, and unpredictable, Martinez possesses only modest power, partly because he rarely plants with both feet on the canvas, preferring to hit while moving. Still, he’s a tenacious battler who outworks opponents. His nickname is “Maravilla,” which translates to “Marvelous,” which he has certainly been in recent fights. Grade: A-
ACHIEVEMENT: Martinez, 35, honed his skills fighting across Argentina and Spain, with occasional visits to America. In 2000, only his third year of fighting for pay, he suffered a TKO loss to Antonio Margarito. After that loss, though, Martinez went undefeated in his next 28 bouts, including a 2008 TKO of Alex Bunema for the WBC 154-pound title. More-recent fights include a controversial draw against Kermit Cintron, which most felt Martinez deserved to win. Many also felt Martinez deserved the nod in his next bout, a majority decision loss to Paul Williams. Martinez finally hit all the right notes in April 2010, earning an impressive unanimous decision over Kelly Pavlik to win THE RING’s middleweight world championship, along with the WBC and WBO belts. Grade: A-
MARKETABILITY: A recent appearance at the International Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canastota, N.Y., was met with great fanfare, which means that at least Martinez is the fighter of the minute. He could become a hit on HBO. Moreover, he’s a charming, likeable character. Grade: A-
SUPPORT SYSTEM: Various promoters and managers have had a hand in Martinez’s long career, but most recently he’s been handled by DiBella Entertainment and advised by Sampson Lyakowicz. Juan Leon Diaz is handling the training chores, having replaced Gabriel Sarmiento. Grade: B+
GROWTH POTENTIAL: We’d like to think he’ll go farther than Argentina’s last champion, Carlos Baldomir, but with his age creeping up, we aren’t sure what to predict. Martinez is finished fighting at a 154 pounds, which means he can continue to emulate his hero Carlos Monzon at middleweight full time. He faces Williams in a much-anticipated rematch on Nov. 20 in Atlantic City, N.J. If Martinez wins, we’ll reserve this spot for him next year. Grade: B+
Previous All-Star Report Cards