The Irish fans came in full force to celebrate St. Patricks day at the theater in Madison Square Garden. They were also on hand to celebrate Ireland’s very own Matthew Macklin (28-3, 19 KO’s) as he squared off against against reigning middleweight champion, Sergio Martinez (48-2-2, 27KO’s). The bout began with Martinez showing an aggressive stance. His straight left behind his southpaw stance was a weapon that he prepared for. Macklin fared well under the circumstances. He came into the fight as a heavy underdog despite solid performances in the past, but was showcasing some skill and tenacity under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.
Macklin’s straight right hand proved to be an effective weapon. He landed them well against Martinez, whose movement makes him a difficult target, stealing rounds due to staying on the offensive. Entering the seventh round, many ringside observers had the bout scored even at three rounds apiece. In a startling exchange, a looping right hook knocked Martinez off balance, causing his glove to touch the canvas, forcing referee Eddie Cotton Jr. to rule it a knockdown. The blow did not seem to phase Martinez, and once the fight resumed, he aggressively went after Macklin, landing one hard straight left after another.
The ruled knockdown ended up becoming the turning point of the fight. It brought the champion out of Martinez, and he dominated from then on. His straight left did not seem to miss it’s target, as he repeatedly beat Macklin to the punch with his superior hand speed. Entering the eleventh round, Macklin’s face began to redden due to the blows that he was taking. About a third of the way through the round, Martinez landed a picture perfect left hand that knocked Macklin down hard. He beat the count, but was on very unsteady legs, and the blow opened up a gash on the right side of his face. It did not take long for Martinez to send Macklin down again. All it took was another left hand, and Macklin was down again. He beat the count as the round ended.
It was then that Macklin’s corner, headed by Buddy McGirt, decided to assess their fighter. They saw that he was spent and hurt, and therefore unable to continue, and wisely made the decision to end the bout. Martinez was credited with a TKO victory at the 3:00 point in the eleventh round.
In a bout that guaranteed fireworks, Edwin Rodriguez (20-0, 15KO’s) faced off against Don George (22-1, 19KO’s) in a super middleweight match. The early portions of the bout saw each fighter measuring up their jabs and trying to get into range for harder punches.
Things began to heat up a bit in the third round as both fighters traded big rights. The fight continued at a tactical pace entering the middle rounds. Despite the high expectations of a barn burner, this fight became a smart chess match. Rodriguez proved to be the better of the two at this game. He used his skills to keep George out of reach, and the plan worked very well.
With George seemingly behind on the scorecards, the twelfth round was highly anticipated. Both fighters threw big punches for the entire three minutes. It had the crowd on their feet. As the final bell rang, both fighters embraced before the scores were read. The final scores were 96-94, 99-91, and 97-93 all in favor of Rodriguez.
The popular Seanie Monaghan (12-0, 8 KO’s) squared off against Eric Watkins (6-1, 2 KO’s) in a light heavyweight bout. Watkins started off quickly, hoping to catch Monaghan off guard. Recently, Monaghan has employed a more measured approach to fighting, and took it all in stride. He started off by throwing powerful combinations to the body, and followed that up with combinations upstairs. Watkins was unable to answer with any significant punches of his own.
The bout progressed with Monaghan in complete control of the action. After eight one-sided rounds, the final scores read 80-72, 79-73, and 79-73 in favor of Monaghan.
In the final non-televised bout of the night, heavyweights took to the ring when Magomed Abdusalamov (13-0, 13 KO’s) took on Jason Pettaway (11-0, 8 KO’s). Pettaway started the fight utilizing his quick footwork and boxing technique, while Abdusalamov stalked. In the opening rounds, it was evident that Abdusalamov had punching power, but he did not land that one power shot that would end the fight. Then, in the fourth round, Abdusalamov landed a combination that had Pettaway reeling and on the canvas. He beat the count, but was on very shaky legs. As the bout resumed, Abdusalamov took advantage and landed huge punches flush on the chin. An official immediately hoped onto the canvas to request an end. The referee called a halt to the bout at 1:20 of the fourth round, giving Abdusalamov a TKO victory.
The third bout of the evening featured the popular Kevin Rooney (3-1, 1 KO, 163.5lbs) up against Anthony Shuff (0-1, 168lbs). Rooney opened up aggressively working his opponent, and it immediately became evident that Shuff wanted no part of it. After a barrage of punches, he looked over to the ref as if to plead for mercy. The referee granted it to him, stopping the fight at 1:27 of the first round, giving Rooney the TKO victory.
In a vert tactical match, Charlie Ota (19-1-1, 13 KO’s, 151.5lbs) took on Gundrick King (16-7, 11 KO’s, 153.5lbs). Both fighters took their time in letting their hands go, as they are both counter punchers. Throughout the bout they took turns finding openings. Gradually throughout the first for rounds, Ota was landing the fresher combinations. By the sixth, a combination from Ota ended with a solid left hook that sent King down. Ota beat the count and the round ended. The seventh round saw more action from Ota, and he trapped King in the corner and landed a right that sent King to a knee. The referee stopped the bout at the :35 point in the seventh round, giving Ota a TKO win.
The opening bout of the evening featured Thomas Hardwick (4-0, 2 KO’s, 215lbs) against TJ Gibson (1-1, 207lbs) in a four round match. Hardwick maintained control throughout the bout en route to a unanimous decision victory with all three scores reading 39-35.
Danny McDermott (9-3-2, 4 KO’s, 140.5lbs) faced off against Carl McNickels (7-3, 6 KO’s, 137 1/4lbs) in a six round bout. Like any other McDermott fight, it featured a whole lot of back and fourth brawling. The final scores read 57-55, 57-55, 56-56 in favor of McNickels, giving him a majority decision victory.
Photos by Ed Diller