Sergio Martinez, Noble Fighter
Boxers are often thought to be thugs. Not so for Sergio Martinez, the Argentine middleweight (160 lbs) superstar who cemented his legacy last night with an exciting unanimous decision victory over the younger, bigger, and stronger Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the son of the legendary Mexican fighter. Martinez, 37 with movie-star good looks, took the 26-year-old Chavez to school for 11 rounds, but then nearly got knocked out in the 12th. Amazingly, Martinez ended the bout on his feet to get the points win.
I was rooting for Martinez. Though he was the favourite, he was also the naturally smaller man, as Chavez has famously put on upwards of 20 pounds after the weigh in, and appeared clearly larger last night. But the main reason I rooted for Martinez is because he’s a rags-to-riches story, he’s a really nice guy. Earlier this year, before a fight at Madison Square Garden, he spoke the Dominican Women’s Development Center and a safe house for victims of domestic abuse in the Washington Heights neighbourhood of New York. And he even appeared in an anti-bullying “it gets better” video.
Boxing can be brutal. But some of the fighters are actually pretty good people. Sergio Martinez is among the better ones. And that’s why he’ll likely remain one of my favourites for a long time.