Matthew Macklin put up quite a fight for about seven rounds tonight, including a debatable knockdown call, but all that knockdown call -- which appeared to be at least partly a trip -- really did was wake up world middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, who then spent the next four rounds beating the hell out of the challenger en route to a late stoppage.
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Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KO) started ripping Macklin (28-4, 19 KO) with left hands, hard jabs, and the occasional body shot, and while the English-Irishman faded, Martinez zeroed in and took over the fight, flat-out dominating Macklin down the stretch.
Late in the 11th round, with Macklin starting to realize he had to get more active, Martinez floored him hard on a left hand. Macklin sailed to the canvas, really, but did get up. Still on bad feet, Macklin was vulnerable, and Sergio knew it. He went for the kill with seven seconds to go, and with Macklin having no choice but to throw punches, Martinez bombed him again, putting him down a second time just before the bell.
Again, Macklin made it up, and he was sent to his corner. But trainer Buddy McGirt pretty quickly made the gutsy and smart call to pull his fighter out, giving Martinez a TKO in the 11th round. Had Macklin been sent out for the 12th, he likely would have tried, and almost certainly would have been laid out by the suddenly vicious Sergio Martinez.
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What it came down to, ultimately, was class. Macklin has had his gas tank betray him before, and it happened again tonight. Martinez had plenty in reserve, and just smoked him when he felt like he needed to turn it up.
Early in the fight, Martinez showed great respect for Macklin, who did push Sergio back with some good right hands. This was not the forward-charging Macklin of the Felix Sturm fight. Macklin, also with respect to Sergio, knew getting that open defensively couldn't be good for his health. So he adopted some of Darren Barker's strategy, making Sergio come to him more than the champion really wanted to.
But even when Macklin was doing well in the fight, it felt like if Martinez wanted to open up offensively, he was going to take Macklin apart. When he did, that's exactly what happened.
It wasn't Sergio's greatest performance, but I think an honest assessment reveals that really, this wasn't too far off of par for the course. When it came time to reveal what all he had in his toolbox, he did so, as he did last year with Darren Barker. He outgutted Kelly Pavlik, too, making adjustments and winning the fight at crunch time.
Martinez now marches on, still the middleweight champion of the world, still clearly the world's best 160-pound fighter. Andre Ward spent the night on Twitter saying he's ready for Martinez, but we'll get into what's next for Sergio tomorrow.
Thank you for joining us for all of today's action.