Sergio Martinez continued his excellent recent run of fights with an 8th round TKO over Sergiy Dzinziruk on Saturday (March 12). It was the second consecutive KO defense of his middleweight crown, and another victory over a highly ranked opponent. Afterward, Martinez made it known he wants to be pound for pound #1 and challenged both Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao to step up to the plate. While it’s highly unlikely he’ll get either in the ring, Sergio Martinez’s run raises a significant question about Pac and Money’s recent opposition. Do both still deserve to be ranked over Martinez?
In the last year, Manny Pacquiao has faced Johsua Clottey at welterweight, and Antonio Margarito at a junior middleweight catchweight of 150 pounds. Although the Clottey fight was a bore (due to Clottey), the Ghanaian was still a Top 5 welterweight at the time. In addition, he had just lost a controversial split decision to Miguel Cotto, with some even believing Clottey did enough to win. It was Pacquiao’s first welterweight bout without a catchweight and a very good win.
The Margarito fight was different. The Tijuana Tornado had only fought one bout in early 2010 after being annihilated by Shane Mosley in January 2009. Nonetheless, he did come into the Pacquiao fight weighing the equivalent of a super-middleweight, which was probably the only reason he was able to remain upright despite the heavy beating he took. This is one of the few cases that can be argued as Pacquiao’s team cherry-picking a clearly faded opponent.
In two months, Pacquiao will face Shane Mosley in another disappointing decision. Mosley lost big to Mayweather last May, looking completely lost and outclassed after stunning Floyd early. He followed that up by looking equally bad in a listless 12 round draw with Sergio Mora at 154. Considering the way Mosley’s looked recently, Pacquiao’s timing in facing Shane is dubious.
Mayweather kicked off his 2009 comeback with a win over lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez. It’s universally panned as a sham of a fight considering Marquez moved up two weight classes to compete at welterweight. Marquez’s one potential advantage, a 142 pound catchweight, went out the window when Mayweather came in overweight at 146 pounds. He went on to easily dominate Marquez, who looked sluggish at the higher weight, over 12 rounds. The fight was obviously for Mayweather to a hype a potential Pacquiao fight by showing how easily he could defeat the Pacman’s toughest opponent (Marquez battled Pacquiao to a draw in 2004 and lost a highly disputed split decision in 2008). Still, the circumstances and weight ensured the fight did nothing for Floyd’s standing pound for pound.
After the Pacquiao fight fell through, Mayweather followed it up with a win over then welterweight champion Shane Mosley. It was a great win. Mosley had not fought in over a year, but that’s because he was avoided after slaying Margarito and only looking for big fights. It was the first legit welterweight Floyd had beat since winning the linear crown in 2006. It silenced critics who felt he couldn’t deal with a fighter his own size with comparable speed. Not only did he outbox Mosley, he did it coming forward. This win has unfortunately lost some luster because of how Shane looked in his next fight, but it’s still one of Floyd’s best scalps since leaving lightweight. Unfortunately, he’s killed his momentum by remaining idle.
In that span, Sergio Martinez has fought Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams and Sergiy Dzinziruk. He moved up to middleweight to beat Pavlik, who was the linear champion of the division. The next bout was the Williams rematch, who Martinez had dropped a close decision to. Williams was also in the Top 10 pound for pound by many observers, and flat-out avoided by all the name fighters from 147-160. Martinez flattened him in two rounds. And last Saturday he faced Dzinziruk, arguably the #1 fighter at 154 pounds as a five-year reigning titlist. Martinez took away his best weapon by outjabbing the jabber, and dropped him five times in the process. Unlike Floyd and Manny, ever single one of Martinez’s recent opponents were highly ranked, not coming off bad performances, and were not being subjected to catchweights or huge weight disparities.
Are these factors enough to make Sergio Martinez #1 pound for pound? Not yet. These mythical rankings are subjective, and it’s quite easy to get wrapped up in recent good performances while ignoring the larger body of work a fighter puts together. While I don’t think we should factor in wins from over five years ago (Pacquiao-Barrera I, Mayweather-Corrales etc), we shouldn’t ignore victories from a 2-3 year span. In that regard, I still think Pacquiao has an edge for his wins over Marquez, Hatton and Cotto. Because Mayweather sat out ’08 and fought a bloated Marquez in ’09, I think Sergio Martinez has done enough to slide into the #2 spot and overtake Money’s 2010 win over Mosley.
Take heed, Manny Pacquiao. Another “ehhh” fight after Mosley coupled with another quality opponent by Maravilla will result in the Argentinian taking your spot.
Let’s hear it people. Am I jumping the gun with Sergio Martinez, or has he earned a higher pound for pound ranking than Mayweather and Pacquiao?