· Sergio Martinez confirmed every facet of his greatness tonight. Against the technical boxer Serhiy Dzinziruk, who was known for his excellent jab and world-class defense, Martinez, out-jabbed him, created openings and showcased the awesome power of his left hand. Martinez inspires the boxing community becuase of his willingness to take risks. He will trade with a fighter, out-jab them or out-think them on his way to winning. He has all of the tools.
· Thirty-seven fighters had previously faced Dzinziruk and nobody figured out a way to beat him over the duration of a fight. Martinez and trainer Gabriel Sarmientio (who didn’t travel to the fight) devised an excellent game plan which centered on removing Dzinziruk’s greatest attribute—his ring confidence. The game plan involved Martinez’s and Sarmiento’s belief in the Martinez's supreme talent. Only a fighter and corner with absolute confidence would pick the establishment of a superior jab to Dzinziruk as the way to dictate the terms of the action. Most normal humans would look at tape of Dzinziruk and conclude that engaging in a jabbing contest would be the definition of futility.
However, Sarmiento knows how good his fighter is. Martinez’s jab was punishing. Previously, Martinez was not particularly known for his jab. It was obvious how much work went into perfecting his stick. The repeated jabs opened up additional opportunities for straight left crosses and Martinez's looping left hooks/overhand lefts. After two early knockdowns of Dzinziruk, Martinez caught his second wind in the eighth round and transformed Dzinziruk into his personal piñata.
· Not enough is written about Martinez’s left hand. From the punch that knocked Kermit Cintron down (so fast that it was erroneously ruled a head butt) to the flooring of Paul Williams to the domination of Dzinziruk, Martinez’s straight left hand might be one of the best tools in all of boxing.
Looking at Martinez’s ledger, the man only has a knockout ratio of just over 50%. But in his last 20 fights, 15 of his opponents have failed to reach the final bell. What that tells me is that Martinez did not enter boxing with preternatural power but as he has perfected his craft, the combination of hand speed and perfect technique make him awesomely destructive.
· Lou DiBella, Martinez’s promoter, faces an interesting dilemma ahead. He must find credible opponents for Martinez yet I’m sure the established belt holders Sebastian Sylvester and Felix Sturm aren’t in any rush. They have good gigs in Germany making steady money and fighting limited opposition. The young guns that are coming up in the division will be steered away from Martinez.
Martinez is now firmly set as one of HBO’s featured fighters. Who will they approve? How many fighters could even be competitive with Martinez? Maybe, after a couple of wins Paul Williams goes for his trilogy shot. It seems that Martinez is in mid-career Roy Jones territory, whereby he needs to be on HBO but there just aren’t many fighters good enough to even stay competitive with him.
DiBella must now ensure that his undercards for Martinez’s fights are excellent so that the network will have at least one fight whose outcome may be in jeopardy. However, this problem is temporary. In boxing, someone always emerges. It may take another year or 18 months, but there will be additional great Sergio Martinez fights in the future.
· Andy Lee looked awful. The knockout was nice but I got the sense that 20 fighters could have beaten him tonight. He was lucky that his opponent had historically been plagued by poor training habits, a lack of dedication and limited experience against good opposition. Up until the 7th round, McEwan was nailing Lee with straight left hands, jabs, right hooks, the kitchen sink, you name it. McEwan fought the right fight, taking it to Lee and backing him up. Unfortunately, elite fighters fight 10 or even 12 rounds.
· It seems incomprehensible that Lee is trained by Emanuel Steward. Have you ever seen a Steward fighter have such awful defense? These mistakes, backing straight up, no head movement and poor balance after throwing shots, are serious impediments for Lee to become anything more than he is: a good TV fighter that can make a good scrap when matched appropriately. To me, Lee has regressed.
· If you read here: http://saturdaynightboxing.blogspot.com/2011/03/now-or-never-for-lee-and-mcewan.html, you will see that I mentioned that Lee has a very good left hand. That detail is often missed when discussing Lee’s offensive arsenal. Lee falls in love with his right hook and doesn’t throw his straight left hand very often. This may be because his defense and balance are so bad that when he throws his left hand bad things happen in return. Thus, you could understand the caution to some degree. However, that left hand which dropped McEwan was beautiful and Lee needs to throw that punch a lot more. That is a big league punch.
· For McEwan, he still has a future. He won’t be world-class but there are a ton of emerging young fighters that need credible opponents. McEwan fought as well as he ever had; it wasn’t enough tonight but he didn’t disgrace himself. Look for him in the future fighting someone like a Fernando Guerrero or a Daniel Jacobs. McEwan may not have excellent punching power but he can defeat good fighters if he fully dedicates himself to the sport.