Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez
Sergio Martinez, a dashing and highly talented boxer, turned professional in December 1997, in his homeland of Argentina. Martinez proceeded to go undefeated in 17 fights while building a record of 16-0-1. During this time period, Sergio faced opponents of all styles and caliber, helping him to develop and work on slick combinations, superior hand speed, excellent footwork, punching power, and most importantly; his winner’s mentality, all now highly developed skills he brings to the table as a seasoned fighter.
In February 2000, Martinez received the opportunity to fight outside of Argentina for the first time, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, in Las Vegas. Despite his inexperience, the opportunity was too great to pass up. There he suffered his first defeat as a professional at the hands of Tijuana's rugged Antonio Margarito, a highly decorated former three-time world amateur champion. Martinez then returned to his native Argentina for a fresh start.
With an injured hand and abandoned by his promoter, "Maravilla" refused to let the Margarito loss taint his intrinsic “fighter’s” will. The warrior proved his spirit was still strong and returned a mere two months later, in April 2000, to reel off eight straight victories in his homeland over a two-year period, including knockout victories over Adrian Walter Daneff and Javier Alejandro Blanco, respectively, to capture the WBO Latino and Argentine (FAB) welterweight titles.
Now a titlist, Martinez matured tremendously as an elite athlete and skilled technician. He took the time to hone his craft, make the necessary technical adjustments, and advance toward perfecting his style.
On October 27, 2001, in defense of the Argentine (FAB) belt, Martinez TKO’d Sergio Ernesto Acuna in seven rounds in Buenos Aires. It was an impressive victory for Martinez because the experienced Acuna was the ex-FAB champion, having been stripped of the belt a year earlier.
Following one more victory in Argentina, Sergio left home with not much more than a plane ticket to Europe and a handful of telephone numbers. After four days of train travel, he arrived in Madrid, Spain, minus his suitcases and his phone book that were lost along the way. A desperate Martinez managed to contact countryman Pablo Sarmiento, who at the time was an IBO 140lb. world champion.
Martinez settled in the city of Guadalajara training under Gabriel Eduardo Sarmiento, the brother of Pablo. Sergio became part of the stable of Ricardo Sanchez Atocha. Under Sarmiento’s tutalage, Martinez went on to win four fights in Spain. He now successfully proved that he could win on the road.
On June 21, 2003, at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester England, an esctatic Martinez captured the IBO 154-pound world title via unanimous decision over 17-1-1 Richard Williams. “Maravilla” impressed everyone present as he showcased his outstanding technical abilities, fast hands, quick feet, excellent reflexes, and an obvious will to win.
His next two defenses were in enemy territory (the United Kingdom) where he faced Adrian Stone (33-4-2) and fought a rematch against Williams. Martinez, now riding high, earned two impressive IBO title defenses, both via stoppage; Stone in 12, and Williams in nine.
In January 2005, after Sergio had vacated the IBO title, he fought for the WBC Latino 154lb. belt against Albert Airapetian in Castilla y Leon, Spain. Martinez scored a knockout win in 11 rounds, after he knocked Airapetian down three times in the deciding round. This win was highlighted by a very unusual event in boxing. The brother of Airapetian (also a pro middleweight boxer) entered the ring and attacked Martinez. As a result of injuries from this attack, Martinez received 10 stitches in the back of his head.
Following this bout, rumors began to fly of an imminent world title opportunity. Determined to stay sharp and hopeful for this chance, Martinez remained busy with five victories over the likes of Alvaro Moreno Gamboa, Tomaz Tskrialashvili, Presente Brito, Vasile Surcica, and Oliver Tchinda, including two successful defences of the WBC Latino title.
After numerous postponements the WBC finally granted Martinez an elimination bout for their 154lb. world crown. Sergio faced Mexican Saul Roman at the Grand Plaza Hotel in Houston, Texas, on April 27, 2007. In his first return to the United States since his lone defeat to Margarito in Las Vagas, a determined Martinez destroyed Roman in four one-sided rounds. A vicious body shot ended the fight, and Martinez became more of a known commodity.
In spite of the Roman fight being an official eliminator, the title opportunity continued to be elusive. At this point Martinez decided it was time to make a smart career move. He signed with well-known promoter Lou DiBella of DiBella Entertainment, based in New York City. The move was designed to help Sergio become a more well-known name in the U.S. and win a world championship.
“Being a part of DiBella Entertainment (DBE), Sergio will have a wealth of opportunities and will finally be recognized by the whole boxing world,” said DiBella, at the time. “I’m happy to be working with Sergio, his manager Ricardo Sanchez Atocha, and the rest of Team Martinez. He will become a legitimate world champion!”
“I’m also proud to be working with world-renowned international matchmaker Sampson Lewkowicz, who assisted us in making the deal to sign Sergio,” said the DBE president. “Sampson is one of the true stand-up individuals in the sport and one of the best minds in the world of boxing.”
With DiBella’s guidence, Martinez had started to become a crossover star under the DBE banner. After one more fight in Spain, stopping Pavel Florin Madalin in four, on October 6, Martinez fought four fights in the United States, in the Bronx, New York, Las Vegas, Connecticut and California. Impressed American fans began to get enamored by the Argentinian/Spanish sensation. Within 10 months, Sergio has earned victories over Russell Jordan (TKO4), David Toribio (UD4), Archak TerMeliksetian (TKO7) and Alex Buema (TKO8).
Martinez’s triumph over the #1 world-rated Bunema, on October 4, 2008, at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, CA, was a masterpiece. Sergio flawlessly outboxed and outclassed Bunema with his signature quick southpaw style, and proceeded to beat Bumema all around the ring. The ringside doctor eventually stopped the fight before the beginning of the ninth round. Martinez picked up the interim WBC 154lb. title with victory, seen on HBO.
The newly-crowned titilist was back in action on February 14, 2009, but there was hardly any love in the air when he stepped in with former welterweight world chamion Kermit Cintron. It had appeared Martinez was a knockout winner in the seventh round when he dropped Cintron, who was then counted out by referee Frank Santore. However, after lengthy commotion, it was ruled that Cintron had risen before Santore had counted to 10, and Santore only waved his arms to signify the end of the round. Still, after 12 stanzas had concluded, most observers felt Martinez had won the majority of rounds. Still, the judges saw it another way, ruling the bout a draw but allowing Martinez keep his title. While one judge deemed that Sergio had dominated the bout with a score of 116-110, that tally was overruled by two scorecards reading 113-113.
In May 2009, the WBC elevated Martinez’s status from interim to full chamion at 154lb. due to the inactivity of titleholder Vernon Forrest. Tragically, the two never got the chance to determine the deserving champion in the ring because on July 25, 2009 Vernon Forrest was murdered in a senseless act of gun violence in his home city of Atlanta, GA. The impact of Forrest’s death hit the boxing community, including Martinez, hard.
"Vernon Forrest was a great fighter," Martinez said. "I always dreamed of fighting Vernon because it has always been my goal to prove myself against the very best. This tragic news puts both my life and boxing career in perspective. Vernon and I both shared a love for children and helping those who had become disadvantaged. This is why I did not just look up to him as a boxer, but as a human being. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, and I promise to dedicate my next fight to the memory of Vernon Forrest."
While maintaining his status as WBC champion, Martinez moved up in weight on December 5, 2009, for the biggest fight of his career to that point, a showdown with one of boxing’s pound-for-pound best, Paul Williams, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In a bout that saw both men hit the deck in round one, Martinez and Williams gave fans a nip-and-tuck battle widely revered as the “Fight of the Year.” In the end, Martinez lost a razor-thin, if not debatable, decision, but his brilliant effort put the boxing world on notice. Scores were 115-113 Williams, 114-114, and a totally ridiculous scorecard of 119-110 also in favor of Williams.
On April 17, 2010, Martinez returned to the ring, again as a middleweight, to challenge WBC/WBO/Ring Magazine unified champion Kelly Pavlik at Boardwalk Hall. In the same venue where he battled Williams, Martinez and Pavlik put on an equally memorable contest. In the early rounds, Martinez’s boxing skill held sway. However, in the middle rounds, Pavlik began establishing himself, and in round seven dropped Martinez. Martinez arose with renewed vigor and continued to use his speed and superior boxing skills to control the last four rounds and win a clear-cut unanimous decision.
After a long deliberation, Martinez chose to relinquish his junior middleweight title to continue campaigning at middleweight, where his hero, and fellow Argentinean, Carlos Monzon, reigned in the 1970s.
On November 20, 2011, Sergio Martinez returned to Boardwalk Hall once more, again to do battle with Paul Williams. If their first contest was the “Fight of the Year” for 2009, their rematch easily netted Martinez “Knockout of the Year” honors for 2010. With one booming left hand in the second round, Martinez turned what had been a competitive fight into one of the most brutal knockouts in a big fight in quite some time. With the win, Martinez retained the WBC and Ring Magazine middleweight titles.
To cap off 2010, Martinez was lauded by nearly ever publication and organization—including ESPN, the Boxing Writers Association of America, Yahoo Sports, Sports Illustrated, MaxBoxing.com, Boxing Digest, BoxingScene.com, AOL Fanhouse, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, El Paso Times, San Antonio Express-News, Secondsout.com, and The Ring Magazine—as “Fighter of the Year.”
On March 12, 2011, Martinez dispatched of WBO Junior Middleweight champion Sergiy Dzinziruk in seven rounds, at the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods, in Connecticut. Dzinziruk, who entered the ring with a perfect 37-0 record, was supposed to give Martinez fits with his superb boxing ability. But as the HBO commentary crew pointed out in the early going, Sergio Martinez ended up “out jabbing the jabber.” Martinez went on to drop Dzinziruk in the fourth and fifth rounds, and then three times in the eighth round to take home the WBC Diamond Middleweight Championship.
Capping off 2011, Martinez challenged the British and European middleweight titlist, “Dazzling” Darren Barker, on October 1, back at Boardwalk Hall. After wading through a few rough patches, Martinez figured out the determined underdog’s style, and slowly dismantled the Brit over 11 rounds, defending his WBC Diamond belt. In the final frame, as Sergio was on the attack, a combination upstairs, concluding with a right hook, dropped Barker for the full count at the 1:29 mark.
More background information on Sergio Martinez:
Martinez was born on Feb. 21, 1975, in Quilmes, Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is the middle brother of three. His father, Hugo Alberto, was a metal worker, who along with his wife, Susana Griselda, saw the need to uproot the family in order to provide food on their table. The family travels took them to places such as Quilmes, the Capital District of Buenos Aires, to Mar del Plata, and back to Quilmes.
Sergio Gabriel made it through elementary school and later took English courses as well as commercial secretarial classes. Eventually, he had to forgo his studies when he saw the need to help his father feed the family by working from sunup to sundown.
From a very young age, his athletic ability was evident. He starred on his local soccer team, Claypole, where he was the leading scorer. At the age of 20, Sergio came very close to being signed by 1st division Los Andes. He played alongside players that today are still playing in the top leagues of Argentina.
Following a family tradition, Sergio began to box at the age of 20 along with his uncle Ruben Paniagua. He was so talented that, only five weeks later, he made his amateur debut and was victorious over Jose Pisani.
During this period, he was being handled by his two uncles; Raul and Carlos Paniagua. His unique crowd-pleasing style caught on, making him a hit with fans as well as the news media. Early on, Martinez was given the moniker of "Maravilla" or “Marvelous One" and it has stuck with him for the rest of his career.
During an outstanding amateur career, with a total of 41 bouts, Martinez was a two-time Argentine Champion as well as Inter Continental Champion. He was a member of the National Team where he participated in the 1997 World Amateur Championship in Hungary, along with teammates Omar Narvaez, Javier Alvarez, Fabricio Nieva, Guillermo Saputo, and Santiago Nieva.
Martinez was the winner of numerous awards in his early career, including the Firpo99 Award given to the “Rookie Boxer of the Year” in Argentina and was also recognized as “Rookie of the Year” by the newspaper, Clarin.
Record:48-2-2 (27 KOS)
DOB:21 Feb 1975
Birthplace:Buenos Aires, AR