ATLANTIC CITY — Kelly Pavlik gave up the ghost of his reign as WBC and WBO middleweight champion under pressure from challenger Sergio Martinez, who scored a unanimous 12-round decision last night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
When ring announcer Michael Buffer introduced Pavlik, he gave only his undefeated record as a middleweight, omitting the only previous loss of his career to former light-heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins at a 170-pound catchweight.
Next time, Buffer can dispense with that nonsense because Martinez was a clear winner on all cards, thanks to a strong finish in the final three rounds, when he landed 112 punches to 51 for Pavlik, according to CompuBox Inc.
Judge Roberto Ramirez scored it 116-111, Barbara Perez had it 115-111 and Craig Metcalfe called it 115-112, which was the same score as Newsday’s card. That included a 10-8 round in favor of Pavlik in the seventh when he dropped Martinez with a short right.
“It was a 12-round fight, and I knew it would go the distance,” Martinez said. “At the end, I had to close strong. It was a 12-round plan. Since I am the visitor, I knew it would be hard to win a decision . . . When the last bell rang, I knew I was the new world champion.”
Martinez came out of the gate like the cyclist he once was, pedaling in to land quick right jabs and throwing the left behind it. Martinez appeared to nick Pavlik over the left eye in that round, but it didn’t become apparent until the second round when he opened the cut wide with a hard left.
Martinez continued to use his speed and flurries of punches to control the opening four rounds.
Pavlik said he expected to see Martinez tire in the middle of the fight, and that seemed to happen once Pavlik asserted his strength and began to find his range. In the seventh, Martinez ducked into Pavlik’s short right hand and he landed on the seat of his pants.
Pavlik was strong again in the eighth, but in the ninth, Martinez opened a cut under the champion’s right eye. Over the last three rounds, Martinez basically made mincemeat of Pavlik’s face as he moved in quickly for effective combinations time after time.
“In the last third of the fight around the eighth round, he kept touching me a lot after I got cut,” Pavlik said. “I tried, but it was very hard to come back after him. I couldn’t see out of my right eye after he cut it. I couldn’t see his left. I wasn’t hurting, but it was just the volume of punches.”
Pavlik’s cut man said he will need at least a dozen stitches on the inside of the two cuts and two dozen on the outside to close them.