By Jake Donovan
There’s no place like home for Sergio Martinez. The defending middleweight king has spent more than a decade fighting outside of his native Argentina, but returns to his roots for a massive homecoming this weekend in Buenos Aires.
Looking to unseat the 38-year old is unbeaten challenger Martin Murray (25-0-1, 11KO), who flies all the way in from England for his second shot at a major title. The Brit came up short in a controversial draw with then-alphabet titlist Felix Sturm in Dec. 2011, on the road in Germany.
Martinez (50-2-2, 28KO) attempts the sixth defense of the lineal middleweight championship he won in a 12-round thriller against Kelly Pavlik just over two years ago. The southpaw jumped from high-risk talent to high profile boxing superstar after his dominant points win over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Martinez won nearly every round but was nearly knocked out in the final minute of the fight before regrouping to preserve the victory.
The championship homecoming proved right on time, as more than 40,000 fans will pack a Buenos Aires soccer stadium on Saturday for HBO-televised main event.
What will come of the next installment in the rich history of world middleweight championship bouts? Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes the action will go down.
B-SCENE PREDICTIONS – SERGIO MARTINEZ v. MARTIN MURRAY
“Sergio Martinez by knockout in the 10th”
- Damien Acevedo (Martinez)
“To me the only question in the Sergio Martinez versus Martin Murray fight is will we see the same Martinez we saw prior to the knee surgery he underwent after his victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Murray has a lot of hear but appears to be severely outclassed here. Martinez TKO10”
- Ryan Burton (Martinez)
“Fight carries the same feel as Martinez’ title defense against Matthew Macklin a year ago. I expect the same anxious moments for the hometown hero to endure in the first half of the fight before taking over and stopping Murray late in the fight.”
- Jake Donovan (Martinez)
“He will have to shake off some rust but the hometown crowd will not be disappointed as he gives them what they want, a dominant performance. Murray will be a game participant but Martinez' skill set will be the deciding factor in an 8-4 9-3 affair.”
- Ernie Gabion (Martinez)
“Martinez is getting older and Murray is hungry with a chip on his shoulder. What many feel is going to be an easy night work for Martinez may be tougher than expected. Martinez will need to find his rhythm earlier and start to break down the younger man. I expect Martinez to notch a bunch of close rounds while dropping Murray once or twice in the process. Martinez UD”
- Tim Kudgis (Martinez)
“Sergio Martinez TKO10 Martin Murray. Sergio Martinez is coming off knee surgery, but I think he will still have the power and speed advantage against Martin Murray. While the British fighter isn't short on guts, I just see him walking into one too many Martinez traps for him to be effective.”
- Ryan Maquinana (Martinez)
“Martinez, coming off surgery, and wanting an interm fight in his home country before facing Chavez Jr a 2nd time, didn't take an easy fight, on paper. On paper, Murray is the 2nd best British fighter at middleweight, sandwiched in between Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker, two fighters that had some success against Martinez, before each was eventually stopped in the 11th round. If Murray had Macklin's power to go along with his own boxing skill set, this would be an incredible fight, and not just on paper. He does not. And even at 38, few would be likely to outbox Martinez, especially in front of his adoring Argentinian fans. Martinez KO Murray Rd 10”
- Richard Najdowski (Martinez)
“Murray is tough and showed quality against Sturm, but he's not a big puncher and he's got a serious, serious homefield disadvantage. Hard to pick a KO for a guy who has never had one, but it's possible. Martinez by decision”
- Cliff Rold (Martinez)
“This is an intriguing match up between a pure boxer and an aggressive brawler. We'll see how Martinez will be effective at boxing and controlling the pace of the action. Although he is 38, I think Martinez does enough to box around Murray. Martinez might get caught by an occasional punch, but he may avoid quite a bit as Murray has a tendency of telegraphing his punches. I predict Martinez scores a 12 round decision (117-111) or stop Murray late in the fight.”
- Francisco Salazar (Martinez)
“Normally I'd pick Martinez by stoppage but I see this going the distance. Murray is tough but he'll be outclassed in this one. Martinez will start slow but take over the fight eventually and I'm also curious to see how that knee holds up. I see a lopsided decision for the Argentinian”
- Luis Sandoval (Martinez)
“Martinez is in the league of his own in terms of boxing ability, flexibility and footwork amongst modern middleweights. However, he got hit too often in his latest fights, and he struggled to show a knockout power in his latest battle versus JCC Jr, On the other side, Murray showed good skills and reasonable quality against Felix Sturm in what indeed was a close loss rather than a draw. He is also durable. I expect Murray to last the distance against the Argentinean but to lose it convincingly with scores like 117-111 or 118-110.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Martinez)
Totals: Sergio Martinez 11, Martin Murray 0
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox