Eleven months, 15 days, and a majority decision ago, Paul Williams garnered third place on most pound for pound ranking lists behind Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather subsequent to defeating Sergio Martinez. Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall before a far from capacity audience of 5,502, Martinez reconfigured the rankings with the most savage knockout of 2010 so far, sending Williams to the canvas face first at 1:10 of the second round.
However he is placed on the pound for pound list, it is certainly within the top three. In addition, Martinez likely cemented his fighter of the year honors after dismantling Kelly Pavlik earlier this year to unify the middleweight championship.
Despite Martinez being the champion, he was announced first. Despite being the challenger, Williams (39-2, 27 KOs) dictated the 158-lb catchweight. Despite the odds against him, a 6" reach disadvantage, and losing the first round, Martinez retained his belt with a straight left hand that snapped Williams head around his neck, removing him from his consciousness.
After the fight, Martinez (46-2-2, 25 KOs) said, "I was waiting for a mistake. and I was surprised that it happened so soon. I didn't want the judges to rob me this time." (While many in the press judged the first fight for Williams, one of the judges scorecards of a shutout in favor of Williams was unconscionable.) The champion appeared far more strategically prepared than many assumed, and much credit is due to his trainer Gabriel Sarmiento.
The mistake Martinez saw was likely Williams' wide and low straight left hand (and a right drooping below his chin), which in turn exposed him to Martinez's straight left. In the first round, Martinez struggled to land his straight left to work Williams in the pocket from the inside, which found mixed results. In the second, the champion landed multiple straight lefts to which Williams could not seem to adjust. Each fighter was gunning for a knockout: according to CompuBox statistics, of the fighters' first 55 combined connected blows, 51 were power shots. The 56th proved fatal.
Martinez's first defense of middleweight championship will likely remain his most memorable. He returns home 4:10 more experienced and $1,050,000 richer. While Martinez, 35, spoke of retiring soon with fights against either Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao, both men are simply too small to campaign at middleweight. Where the Argentine champion goes from here is hard to say. As his promoter Lou DiBella said in a jubilant rant after the fight about Martinez, "He's going to have problems making fights, because he's that fucking good."