I was watching Martinez-Barker last night, as I mentioned, feeling generally unimpressed by both men and reflecting that I had even been a little disappointed in the undercard. Lee avenged his loss through technical superiority, but that’s not saying so much when compared against Brian Vera, whose straightest punch is his hook. Now Martinez was looking unspectacular, his most interesting activity in the fight coming from the blood vessels in his nose, when my significant other posed a question. Seeing another Martinez victory in the making, our attention was drawn to the obvious–his next (hopefully more challenging) opponent–but there was a problem. As the HBO commentators acknowledged, guys like Mayweather will never fight Martinez. Ignoring Paul Williams, there’s no opponent who seems very interesting. The question she asked was essentially “I wonder how he’d have done against Joe Calzaghe?” who happens to be a Welsh fighter we both agree is one of the most entertaining and skilled in the history of the sport. Well, that’s actually an interesting question, much more interesting than the fight we were watching. Even though Calzaghe finished out his career at light heavy, he fought most of his way at super middleweight, where he might have been a likely challenger for Martinez. I don’t have much patience for breakdowns and I don’t think anyone will care enough to look up the numbers, so my overgeneralization is this:
Martinez’ style makes volume punching difficult, as we saw with Paul Williams. Performing at his best, Martinez could score some decent jabs while matching Calzaghe’s southpaw stance. If he opened up with his fast combinations, he would score at least a few punches with enough power to rattle Calzaghe’s less than invincible jaw.
Calzaghe would have trouble adjusting to Martinez style and would probably try to fall back on volume punching to his own detriment. Martinez would catch Calzaghe once or twice, possibly knocking him down. Calzaghe would get back up because of his heart and because the punch would never land as cleanly as it did in Martinez-Williams II. Like he did with aging Hopkins and Jones, Calzaghe would preternaturally synthesize the technique and style information he had been assimilating for the past six rounds and start showing his spectacular precision. Martinez would try to take a three minute offensive break somewhere between round 6 and round 12, which Calzaghe would target and exploit. Once Calzaghe’s precision, speed and volume were all in high gear, especially when Martinez took his foot off the gas, the fight would become one sided. Calzaghe would close the show with quick combinations that would make even Martinez look slow and clumsy. Calzaghe would have won too many rounds, earning a unanimous decision.