FOR the sport of boxing, it was not New Year’s day, it was Saturday, the night reserved for PPV events, no matter how worthy, or in some cases unworthy. In any event, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (PBC promoted) hosted a predominantly heavyweight event of mix and match fighters. There were those who scoffed at the quality of the show beforehand, but on balance it turned out to be an entertaining way to ring in the New Year.
They say that the last thing a fighter loses is his punch. In Luis Ortiz’s case that and only that is true. Until the Cuban, landed the fight-turning left hook in the sixth round of his fight against Charles Martin, he looked like only a shell of his former self.
What is indisputable is that fighters get old and Ortiz, 42 (he is rumored to be older), was looking every bit his age for the vast majority of the bout against Martin. But hey, at the end of the day we deal with results, not what led up to them. And Ortiz got the result he needed in what was billed as an IBF heavyweight eliminator that was scheduled for 12 rounds. It was a belt Martin once briefly held, before passing it on to Anthony Joshua who obviously proved more worthy to wear that particular crown.
Martin, from California, said beforehand that he had never been more ready for a fight than he was against Ortiz. Chatter like this should usually be dismissed, but credit Martin for entering in superb shape, and boxing bravely. He certainly did not fight like the big underdog he was.
A looping left behind the ear dropped Ortiz in the first round. Ortiz landed some long lefts in the second, but Martin attacked hard in the third and fourth showing no fear of Ortiz’s power. A stiff right jab, dropped fellow southpaw Ortiz again in the fourth.
Down twice, Ortiz had a points deficit to make up, but in boxing you are always one punch away from glory or disaster.
Ultimately it was the fusillade of blows that finished Martin, but it was the one big left hook that landed flush early in the sixth which was the fight-changer. Martin’s body went limp. He stood tall and froze, unable to defend himself. It would have been a perfect time for a standing eight count had there been one. A stunned Martin badly needed to regroup. Had he taken a knee maybe he would have recovered. But fighters have pride and it’s hard for them to voluntarily go down.
Ortiz teed off with power shots. The crowd at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino was in a frenzy, Ortiz is from nearby Miami, it was a home game for him. Referee Frank Santore Jnr came under criticism for not stopping it, but the turn of events happened so quickly that the hesitation on the third man’s part can at least be understood if not condoned.
Martin slumped against the ropes face first, his left arm caught in between the strands of them. Santore sent Ortiz to a neutral corner and started to count, but stopped to help Martin free himself when he noticed the fighter frantically gesturing he needed help.
Ortiz pounced when the action resumed. A barrage of punches dropped Martin again. He regained his feet but it was stopped at 1-37. They started to scuffle when it was over, but eventually made peace and sportsmanship prevailed.
In attendance to support his stablemate Frank Sanchez in his fight against Hamburg’s Christian Hammer, was Canelo Alvarez. “He’s got everything,” Canelo said of Sanchez shortly before his fight. “In one year he’ll be world champion.”
The Miami based Cuban, did not exactly perform that way against Hammer despite dominating every round on the way to a 10 round unanimous decision, that was scored 100-89 across the board. In the closing moments, Hammer was hit with a glancing blow and then thrown to the canvas. Referee Samuel Burgos ruled it a knockdown.
Sanchez was technically sound, landed many thudding body blows, and used the ring well, but never hurt Hammer who moved forward all match.
A crazily explosive eight rounder ended at 1-44 of the second when referee Burgos called a halt and declared Ukrainian Viktor Faust the winner over Iago Kiladze. And the moment that happened, Burgos became the most unpopular man in the arena. Not that the stoppage in itself was bad, though it seemed a little premature considering the nature of the fight. It was because the fans were witnessing something special they did not want to see end.
There were three knockdowns in the opening round, the heavily favored Faust getting dropped in between the two he registered. And when they remained upright, both were rocked with big blows.
Kilzade dropped Faust in the second and looked booked for the win, but then got knocked down himself when he tried to finish the job. When Kiladze got up, Burgos stopped it over his objections. Five knockdowns, none flash. A rock ‘em sock ‘em affair if there ever was one.
Turkey’s Ali Eren Demirezen kept the pressure on Gerald Washington all fight. Washington after enjoying some early success simply ran out of steam. A badly swollen right eye added to his woes. The scheduled 10 was called off at 27 seconds of the eighth round.