Thursday, December 15, 2022

Did Martin Gain More In Defeat To Lopez?

One of the marquee attractions of December 10th saw former Undisputed Lightweight world champion Teofimo Lopez looking to continue his rebuilding process following the loss of his crown in November 2021 to George Kambosos. The second fight in the comeback of Lopez and also the second bout in the Jr. Welterweight division for the former champion would come against slick boxer Sandor Martin at a venue quite familiar to Lopez. Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY. A place where he has fought several times throughout his career, but also coincidentally, the same venue where he lost the Undisputed Lightweight crown to Kambosos in the Garden’s adjacent theater.

Lopez’ return to the building forever known in combat sports lure as simply “The Garden” would not come in the theater, but would instead come in the main arena. Before a largely favorable crowd, the Brooklyn-born Lopez appeared to be in the ideal scenario for a fighter looking to build momentum. An iconic venue where he won his first world championship, a hometown crowd of enthusiastic supporters, and an opponent with light regard, at least to those who are casual fans of the sport. Sandor Martin however, had earned his reputation as a spoiler prior to this bout. 

To put it simply, those who were expecting a highlight reel, statement-making performance by Lopez, did not get the memo as to how difficult of a fight this would turn out to be for the former champion. This was due to the very technical and disciplined approach of Martin, who from the outset established lateral movement, an ability to pick his spots, and combination punching, which showed clearly that if Lopez wanted a knockout in this fight, he would have to find a way to halt Martin’s movement and try to break him down. A task that proved to be easier said than done.

In round two, Martin would score a knockdown of Lopez by catching him off balance with a short right hook to the head as he pressed forward. While this was a “Flash Knockdown” in that Lopez was simply caught off balance, a knockdown is still a knockdown and it seemingly gave Martin the advantage in this observer’s eyes.

Martin also succeeded in doing something that is very difficult to accomplish, with his approach and technical Boxing style clearly dictating the combat, with each round the enthusiasm of the crowd in attendance become very quiet and, despite Lopez being able to have occasional moments and seeming to land the harder punches when he was able to connect, the fight did not appear close to yours truly.

What appeared to be a formulaic outcome in favor of Martin, who had shown the ability to play the role of spoiler before with being put in the role of an opponent for a star fighter however, would turn into a bit of controversy at the conclusion of the scheduled ten round bout as two of three official judges turned in scores of 96-93 and 97-92 in favor of Lopez making him the winner via split decision.

After a lifetime covering Boxing and bt extension combat sports, I have certainly seen plenty of controversial decisions that I felt should have gone the other way, and plenty that were deemed controversial that I felt were not as much controversial as it may have been a case of judges having a bad night at the office for lack of a better term. In this case, I think Martin won the fight, but will concede that when Lopez was able to land, though sporadic, he did land the harder punches between the two. While I had Martin winning this fight seven rounds to three or 96-93 in points, sometimes it can boil down to a judge’s perception as well as what they prefer in their own criteria based on clean punching, effective aggressiveness, ring generalship, and defense.

Speaking only for myself, Teofimo Lopez in this fight was not effective in his aggression and though he was able to have success sporadically, it was too sporadic in my view to earn him a victory in this bout. Perhaps from a standpoint of one’s perception, an argument could be made that Martin did not get credit from two official judges for his elusiveness and technical Boxing style. He also did not seem to have the punching power to hurt Lopez, despite him being able to drop him in the second round.

While Martin’s style is not necessarily crowd pleasing, I felt that he did enough to win this fight. Whether this decision was controversial or a case of judges having a bad night is something that can be debated, but I believe it falls somewhere in the middle.

Coming out of this fight, I feel if anyone will benefit from it, it will be Sandor Martin. He may not have gotten the credit for his performance from two official judges perhaps based on the perception that Lopez was more aggressive and landed the harder punches of the two when he was able to land, but there is also a perception coming out of a fight and it is hard to argue that Lopez looked better in victory than Martin did in defeat. Although Boxing is far from a fair and solidly structured sport, hopefully Martin will get another opportunity against a top contender or former world champion in the near future. After defeating Mikey Garcia earlier this year and nearly defeating Teofimo Lopez in this fight, his stock has gone up significantly. 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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