FRISCO, Texas – Jay Harris had plenty of heart Saturday night, but not enough firepower to fend off Julio Cesar Martinez.
The WBC flyweight champion was very active and accurate throughout his 12-round title defense against Harris. Mexico’s Martinez was the harder puncher, too, made Harris take a knee after landing a combination to the body in the 10th round and won a unanimous decision on the Mikey Garcia-Jessie Vargas undercard.
Judges Fernando Barbosa (116-111), Jesse Reyes (115-112) and Herb Santos (118-109) all scored the fight for Martinez at Ford Center at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility.
Martinez (16-1, 12 KOs, 1 NC) made the first defense of the WBC flyweight title he won in his last fight, a ninth-round stoppage of Nicaragua’s Cristofer Rosales (29-5, 20 KOs) on December 20 in Phoenix. Wales’ Harris, who works a full-time job for Amazon, lost for the first time as a pro (17-1, 9 KOs).
As a sign of respect, Martinez and Harris hugged before the final round began. Then Martinez resumed his assault on the game challenger, who was winging punches at Martinez right until the final bell.
A left-right combination to the body by Martinez made Harris take a knee 18 seconds into the 10th round. Harris caught his breath and answered Cole’s count in plenty of time.
Martinez fired away at Harris’ head and body during a just after the midway point of the ninth. The champion made Harris retreat after connecting with a left to the body and a straight right to the head.
Martinez’s hard left to Harris’ body made Harris move away from him with 1:10 to go in the eighth round.
Martinez aggressively went after Harris at the start of the seventh round. He landed a right hand that knocked Harris backward in that sequence.
Martinez nailed Harris with a right hand to the side of his head just before the midway point of the seventh. Harris mounted a rally late in the seventh, when he snapped back Martinez’s head with a left hook.
Martinez attacked Harris’ body throughout the fifth round. He landed a left-right combination downstairs that made Harris retreat at one point in that round.
Martinez hit Harris with numerous flush punches in the fourth round, including a quick, left-right combination with about 13 seconds to go in it. He also opened a cut over Harris’ left eye in that round.
A right by Martinez backed up Harris about 1:15 into the third round, but Harris fought hard off his back foot. Martinez and Harris each landed power shots toward the end of the third.
Harris hit Martinez with a left to the body late in the second round, but Martinez fired back with a right hand up top that moved Harris backward. Harris previously landed two hard right hands on Martinez in the middle minute of the second round.
Harris connected with a left hook, but Martinez quickly came back with a left hook of his own with about 45 seconds to go in the first round. Martinez knocked Harris off balance by landing two left hooks in a flurry about a minute into the fight.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.