By Cliff Rold
It’s time for the latest chapter in “As the Premium Networks Turn.”
Or is it “All My Promotional Feuds?”
Whatever one calls it, it’s another night of HBO and Showtime showing quality shows at the same time. Some people don’t like it. Some people don’t like Christmas or Salma Hayek dancing with a snake in “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn.”
They’ll get over it.
Boxing can never have enough good fights and if there just isn’t enough room to have them all on different nights, then the least we can ask is for it to be kept lively. Mission accomplished this weekend in a solid Middleweight title affair and an old-fashioned grudge match at Jr. Welterweight.
Let’s go to the report cards.
Title: Lineal/TBRB/Ring World Middleweight (2010-Present, 5 Defenses); WBC Middleweight (2012-Present, 1st Attempted Defense)
Previous Titles: WBC Jr. Middleweight (2009-10); WBO Middleweight (2010); WBC Middleweight (2010, 1 Defense)
Weight: 159.4 lbs.
Hails from: Oxnard, California (Born in Argentina)
Record: 50-2-2, 28 KO, 1 KOBY
Record in Major Title Fights: 6-0, 4 KO (7-0-1, 5 KO including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 6 (Antonio Margarito TKO by 7; Kermit Cintron D12; Paul Williams L12, KO2; Kelly Pavlik UD12; Sergiy Dzinziruk TKO8; Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. UD12)
Titles/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 159.6 lbs.
Hails from: St. Helens, Merseyside, United Kingdom
Record: 25-0-1, 11 KO
Rankings: #7 (Ring, SecondsOut), #8 (TBRB), #10 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 0-0-1
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (Felix Sturm D12)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Martinez A; Murray B
Pre-Fight: Power – Martinez B+; Murray B-
Pre-Fight: Defense – Martinez B; Murray B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Martinez A; Murray B
While Murray enters, especially considering what is sure to be a rabid home field rooting against him in Martinez’s native Argentina, as a clear underdog, he isn’t without his chances. Murray has quick hands, if not the blazing speed Martinez can show off. Considering the way Martinez often plays with his hands low, Murray’s quickness could be a factor.
The fundamentally sound Brit has a good jab and straight right. His best weapon is the left hook and, if he can get the first two working, the hook could be trouble for Martinez. Murray will have a slight edge in height. If he makes Martinez think about crossing the space between the two of them, an upset isn’t impossible. Murray gave Felix Sturm all he could handle in Germany. He has shown the character to go on the road.
This will be a different trip. 50,000 wild in a soccer stadium is a hell of a scene. For a guy like Martinez, a fighter who will be getting the real star treatment for the first time, it could be a real rise to the occasion kind of moment. Martinez is quicker of hand, and hits harder. He’s hittable, but he has shown a solid beard and the ability to recuperate when winged.
The biggest question mark will be his wheels. This is Martinez’s first fight since the Chavez win, a fight where he injured a knee. If that’s an issue, and at 38 it could be, Martinez might be a more stationary target.
Could it be enough to send the Argentine faithful home in shock?
While those questions are answered on HBO (8:30 PM EST), there will be other action a hemisphere away. On Showtime (9 PM EST), the hometown edge goes to the underdog.
Titles: WBC Super Lightweight (2012-Present, 2 Defenses); Ring/WBA “Super” Light Welterweight (2012-Present, 1 Defense)
Previous Titles: None
Height: 5’8 ½
Weight: 139.8 lbs.
Hails from: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Record: 25-0, 16 KO
Rankings: #1 (TBRB, ESPN), #2 (BoxRec, SecondsOut)
Record in Major Title Fights: 3-0, 2 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 4 (Nate Campbell UD10; Kendall Holt SD12; Erik Morales UD12, KO4; TKO4)
Previous Titles: IBF Light Welterweight (2000-01, 5 Defenses); WBO Light Welterweight (2003-04, 1 Defense); Lineal/Ring/WBC/WBA/IBF Welterweight (2005-06, 1 Defense); IBF Welterweight (2006); IBF Light Welterweight (2011)
Height: 5’7 ½
Weight: 140 lbs.
Hails from: Brooklyn, New York
Record: 42-7, 29 KO, 3 KOBY
Rankings: #4 (Ring), #6 (ESPN), #7 (TBRB)
Record in Major Title Fights: 11-7, 9 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (Junior Witter UD12; Terron Millet TKO4; Kostya Tszyu TKO by 2; DeMarcus Corley SD12; Cory Spinks L12, TKO9; Rafael Pineda SD12; Carlos Baldomir L12; Floyd Mayweather L12; Miguel Cotto TKO by 11; Joshua Clottey L9; Amir Khan KO by 5)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Garcia B+; Judah A
Pre-Fight: Power – Garcia B+; Judah A
Pre-Fight: Defense – Garcia B; Judah B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Garcia A; Judah B
Usually, the edge in speed and punching power is humongous. Garcia proved last year against Amir Khan that he has an answer for the dilemma. There are things in boxing that can beat both. Timing, toughness, and technique can overcome physical edges on the other side of the ring. Even at 35, Judah still retains exceptional speed and, if he lands, he can get anyone out of there.
They should be, on paper, advantages over Garcia this weekend.
What Garcia brings is a steady calm in the ring, an ability to fight within himself. He isn’t particularly spectacular. He didn’t impress against veterans Campbell and Holt. Morales was competitive in their first fight. Khan appeared far too fast for him.
Garcia isn’t about how he looks from moment to moment. He is about looking like a winner at the end of the fight. In some ways it is like an inverse of Judah. Don’t be mistaken. The New Yorker has had an accomplished career. However, more often than not, Judah has looked good in moments only to fall short of victory against his best foes.
Part of Garcia’s winning is a thudding left hook. His record doesn’t speak to his being a lights out puncher, but he clearly can change a fight with the shot. Judah has been shaken over the years but, when motivated, he can be dangerous all night.
Judah is going to have moments against Garcia. What will the moments mean in the end?
Beginning at Jr. Welterweight, Garcia's old man is so obnoxious it makes one almost want to root for Judah. That said, the son ain't the father and the son is the one who laces them up. Garcia emerged big time last year and showed real growth against Erik Morales and Amir Khan. Now he gets the unpredictable Judah. Judah should give Garcia some tough times in the first five or six rounds, but eventually the steady attack of Garcia will take over. Youth, confidence, and heavy enough hands should carry Garcia to a decision.
At Middleweight, Murray is tough and showed quality against Sturm, but he's not a big puncher and he's got a serious, serious home field disadvantage. Hard to pick a KO for a guy who has never lost by one one, but it's possible. Martinez by decision.
Report Card Picks 2013: 10-13
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]