Manny Pacquiao

Sergio Martinez Knocks Out Williams: Manny Pacquiao Next?

| by Ian Palmer

If a lot of people were surprised last year when an impressive Sergio Martinez lost a majority decision to Paul Williams last year, they must be in total shock today after the Argentinean knocked him into next week in their rematch.

The 35-year-old southpaw connected with one of the most devastating punches in boxing history at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Nov. 20. The crushing blow sent the 29-year-old Williams crashing face-first to the mat.

The crowd in the arena and millions watching on TV knew it was all over as soon as the typically iron-jaw Williams kissed the canvas because there was no way he was getting up from such a brutal left hand. He seemed to be knocked cold immediately after the punch connected, long before he even started falling downward.

It shocked most fans because Martinez (46-2-2, 25 KOs) and Williams (39-2, 27 KOs) went 12 exciting rounds last December in one of the best fights of 2009. They were hoping for the same this time around. They got it, but it lasted just 4 minutes and 10 seconds.

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Since their first fight, Martinez won the WBC and WBO Middleweight Championships with a unanimous decision over Kelly Pavlik in April and Williams won a four-round technical decision over Kermit Cintron in May after Cintron fell out of the ring and couldn’t continue.

Martinez entered the ring as WBO and WBC champ while Williams is a former welterweight and Jr. Middleweight title holder. However, the WBC title was the only one on the line in this bout because it was fought at a catch weight of 158 lbs., two below the middleweight limit.

The win, and the way he went about it, could propel Martinez into the top four or five when it comes to the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world. This "punch of the year" has immediately set off talk about him taking on the top two in that category, Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather. While Mayweather could possibly meet Martinez in the future because of his naturally bigger build, it’d be hard to see Pacquiao taking him on for the middleweight title because of his smaller stature. But it’s still a possibility.

Martinez said after the fight that he’d be willing to fight at a catch weight of 156 lbs., which is five pounds heavier than the weight for the recent Pacquiao vs Margarito fight. Pacquiao, of course, could weigh in at whatever weight he’s comfortable with as long as he doesn’t go over 156. Martinez would likely weigh in at the limit, but he’s not a big middleweight. He weighed in at 157 ¼ lbs. for last night’s bout and rehydrated 10 ¼ lbs. If he did the same against Pacquiao he’d come in at 166 ¼.  

This means even if Pacquiao entered the ring at the same weight as last week (148 lbs.), Martinez would have a weight advantage of 18 ¼ lbs. Margarito came in at 165 and had a 17 lb. advantage over Pacquiao when the fight started. It’s not too much of a difference and Pacquiao could make it up by coming in the ring at 150.

Martinez stands 5-foot-10 with a 76-inch reach. Margarito is taller at 5-11 with a 73-inch reach. The 5-foot-7 Pacquiao would be used to the height and reach advantage Martinez would have. A fight against Martinez would also give Pacquiao the chance to win his ninth title in nine weight divisions, a record that could stand forever.

The only problem with catch-weight fights is some boxing purists don’t count them as true championship bouts because fighters aren’t able to weigh the division’s maximum. But I don’t see the problem if the champions agree to it. They can come in at any weight they want as long as they don’t go over the limit. Therefore, a Pacquiao vs Martinez fight not be so farfetched after all.

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