By Cliff Rold
With a face that may never have seen a razor, 17-year old Welterweight Saul Alvarez (13-1-1, 11 KO) of Jalisco, Mexico showed little respect for the three years elder Gabriel Martinez (17-1-1, 9 KO) of Sonora, Mexico. Over eleven punishing rounds on Friday night at the Salon Marbet Plus in Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico, Alvarez would introduce Martinez to defeat for the first time with a stream of smashing rights and lefts. The bout was telecast live by Spanish language Telemundo.
The first round played out with measured intensity. The red-headed Alvarez, looking like an angry and ripped Opie Cunningham, came forward behind his jab while Martinez moved largely to his left, jabbing and shooting his right to measure distance. With fifteen seconds to go, Alvarez landed a right hook to the body and a left upstairs to close a fairly even round.
The style of the bout remained in the second but the action escalated. Martinez did his best to polish his combinations with the left hook, but found only the gloves of Alvarez in that endeavor. Conversely, Alvarez would have great success in the round with the left hand, landing a flush hook with a minute to go in the round and a three punch, right-left-right combination off the ropes in the closing seconds to steal the round.
Alvarez’s right hand would be the most effective punch of the third. Martinez began effectively enough, landing some solid flurries in the first half of the round as he continued to play off the back foot, but just past the halfway mark, Alvarez would land a rattling right along the ropes that shook Martinez’s legs and left him defensive. Alvarez gave chase to the ropes in the final minute and seized the momentum of the bout.
Momentum remained with the senior prom eligible Alvarez in the fourth and fifth as he punished his more experienced foe in each frame. Martinez was not without his moments, landing the occasional hard right hand, but Alvarez’s shots were more frequently clean and hard. Numerous left hooks and short right hands, along with the occasional classic left handed Mexican liver shot, were having a toll on the rangy Martinez.
Or perhaps just having the affect of a good wake up call, as in the sixth Martinez would come to life with his best round since the first. The spring back in his step, Martinez jabbed and countered the onrushing Alvarez off the ropes for the first two minutes, spinning out of harms way more often than had been the case in previous rounds. The last minute would bring the crowd to its feet as Alvarez landed a left hook that demanded return fire from Martinez. The two would trade bombs on the way to the bell.
Martinez maintained the advantage in the seventh against a possibly resting Alvarez. Following his man around the ring with his mouth open and hands near his waist, Alvarez would offer only one punch at a time as Martinez danced and pecked away. It reads possibly resting because in the eighth, Alvarez would return to sharp thudding offense. While his volume of shots was less than it had been earlier in the fight, Alvarez landed the best of what he intended, timing hard right hands off of Martinez’s attempted retreats. One such right, along the ropes, would send sweat exploding from Alvarez’s head and into the front row.
The advantage stayed with Alvarez in the ninth and tenth, as he alternated between pot shotting right and lefts and the occasional flurry along the ropes. Martinez continued to fire the jab and would answer with the occasional stinging right.
Drama ensued at the beginning of the eleventh. Martinez would land his best shot of the fight, a slashing right hand that shook Alvarez and sent him a stutter step backwards. Cutting his man towards the ropes, Martinez would let loose with more right hands, hoping to seize the initiative. Alvarez covered up and then reversed the tide with a snapping left hook. Martinez backpedaled and Alvarez pursued, unleashing an assault that would halt only for a deep breath here and there in the ensuing two minutes. Martinez was fading fast; Alvarez sought the acceleration of his end.
In the final fifteen seconds, Alvarez would score with a hurting left hook-right hand combination. Alvarez collapsed into the ropes and ate another flush right hand, and then another, and then another at the bell with the referee leaping in to insure Martinez safe passage to what would turn out be a merciful corner.
As the bell sounded for the final round, Martinez’s seconds were already in the process of clipping the tape and laces away from the gloves of their charge. Alvarez walked across the ring to confirm the conclusion and then turned back to his corner, arms raised in well earned victory.
Alvarez exited the ring with a regional WBA title belt.
Also televised, Jr. Bantamweight Jorge Aviles (2-1-1, 1 KO) spoiled the pro debut of Pablo Coutino, coming off the floor twice in the first round to sweep the remainder of the bout behind a long right hand to earn the decision victory.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]