(The middleweight champion remains just that; photo by friend of the site nazarioz)
MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — The (accurate) thinking was that Serhiy Dzinziruk was a boxer who was hard to look good against, but then, he hadn’t fought anyone like Sergio Martinez, because there’s hardly anybody — if anyone — as good as Martinez. Martinez proved it with a five-knockdown domination, three of them in the 8th and final stanza to force the referee to halt the bout.
It was a better fight than I might have expected. Dzinziruk did keep it interesting with periodic flush left hands, enough to maintain an air of competitiveness. But Martinez would steal rounds back that it looked like Dzinziruk was winning, often with those knockdowns. What’s more, in a flipping of the script, Martinez outjabbed Dzinziruk, who has one of the most beautiful jabs in the sport. Martinez’ reflexes were superior, his speed superior, and his ability to dodge Dzinziruk’s jab — often, curiously, by moving his head up and down, rather than side to side — then counter it were too much for the mostly one-dimensional Dzinziruk.
Gary Shaw, Dzinziruk’s promoter, said it would take a great fighter to beat his man, and he wasn’t convinced that Martinez was great. There shouldn’t be any remaining doubt now.
On the televised HBO undercard Saturday, super middleweights Andy Lee and Craig McEwan waged a less skillful, but more dramatic, war. McEwan was winning on most everyone’s scorecard ringside throughout the fight, with Lee only gtting the 1st round on my card until the 7th. There was no head movement — just two men hauling off on each other with sharp, flush shots abetted by said lack of head movement. But it was McEwan whose punches were shorter, and he was busier. Lee didn’t look at all comfortable; everything seemed unnatural, like he was laboring to think of what to do.
But, slowly, he turned things around. McEwan suffered a cut. Lee began to move his head, and realize that he had a jab he could use if he wanted. Then, shockingly, in the 9th, Lee scored a 1-2 combo that put McEwan down as he hurtled backward into the ringpost. You knew the 10th would be interesting — now things were very, very close. Lee came out hard in the 10th, gunning for the KO, and he got it, and not just any KO — a KO of the Year candidate. The left hand that connected on the side of McEwan’s head crumpled him immediately. Lee isn’t terribly good, but you have to want to see him more after that.
Off to the news conference; report on it later.