Sergio Martinez Returns, Stops Fandino to the Body
By Caryn A. Tate on August 21, 2020
Martinez looked in excellent shape, better than he looked for his last fight six years ago.
Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez (52-3-2, 29 KOs) made his return to the ring after six years of inactivity tonight. The 45-year-old former junior middleweight and middleweight world champion, longtime king of 160, and top pound-for-pound elite fighter faced Jose Miguel Fandino (15-7, 8 KOs) in a 10-rounder. The event took place in Torrelavega, Cantabria, Spain, and there were some fans in the stands for the main event despite the global pandemic.
Martinez looked in excellent shape, better than he looked for his last fight six years ago when he faced Miguel Cotto and lost. He wore his signature red and black trunks and robe.
Maravilla wore a brace on his right knee, but when the action started, he didn't appear to favor either leg. In fact he was athletic and lighter on his feet than expected. He was slower than he once was, of course, but he often showed flashes of his old self. As the rounds went on, he got more comfortable and looked even sharper. His counter to Fandino's jab, over the top of it, was a thing of beauty, and something he used to do a lot. Surprisingly, Martinez's reflexes were quite good overall. Now and then he got caught with something he may not have ten years ago, but by and large his defensive awareness, head movement, and reaction time were very good.
Fandino fought tentatively for the first several rounds, only throwing here and there and appearing to be looking for one lucky shot.
Martinez threw many straight lefts downstairs from the get go. When Fandino did let his right go, which seemed to be mostly what he was looking for, Martinez did a good job blocking it with his left glove.
Martinez was dropping his hands in the early rounds in his customary stance. At 45, he is still very good at lying to his opponent about the range—something he was brilliant at during his heyday. Fandino was clearly thrown by the range question throughout the fight.
At one point in round three, Martinez caught Fandino with a nice right hook to the ear that hurt him. Later, Martinez threw two lead lefts in a row to make Fandino look for that punch, then he came back with the money shot again.
As the rounds progressed, they were all Martinez. He was gradually chopping Fandino down.
In the fifth, Fandino did a bit better though still lost the round. I began to suspect he was planning on coming on stronger in the mid to late rounds to try to take the older man late.
In the sixth round, Martinez visibly hurt Fandino to the body. He put Fandino on the ropes and unleashed a barrage to his body on the inside, and Fandino fell to the canvas. He made the count, and despite a good effort, Martinez wasn't able to finish him before the end of the round, though at the end of it Fandino was hunched over thanks to all the body blows.
Seven was more of the same. Fandino's body language showed he was hurt badly downstairs, and Martinez went after him. A straight left to the body dropped Fandino heavily. The referee began counting but waved it off after Fandino struggled to rise.
If an older fighter thinks about returning to the ring, this sort of performance is basically how he would want it to go. Martinez was a little slower than he once was, but against a lower-tier opponent like Fandino (who still has a decent record, by the way), he still occasionally looked like "Maravilla."
In the supporting bout, Sergio Garcia (32-0, 13 KOs) faced Pablo Mendoza (9-5, 9 KOs) in a 10-round super welterweight contest. The first few rounds were competitive, with Garcia just edging out a couple of the rounds most likely.
Earlier in the night former super bantamweight world champion Kiko Martinez (41-9-2, 28 KOs) fought Noe Martinez Raygoza (23-11-2, 10 KOs) in an eight-rounder. The busier and more experienced Kiko wore down Raygoza until the latter's corner called it in round three.