Rocky Martinez wins title on the island



When you compile the long list of distinguished Puerto Rican champions, Rocky Martinez isn’t anywhere near the top in terms of natural, God-given ability. But you can argue that no one has gotten more out of their ability than he has. And that was proven once again this Saturday night in San Juan,  Puerto Rico as Martinez withstood a withering body attack from Orlando Salido to capture the WBO junior lightweight title.


Martinez, who improved his record to 29-2-2 (17), is now a three-time world champion.


And it was a hard night’s work as he simply wouldn’t succumb to the two-fisted volleys of the Mexican, who Martinez sent to the canvas twice in the third and fifth frames. It’s been a troubling trend for the 34-year-old who has been a professional prizefighter for 19 long, hard years and is now seeing his punch resistance fade. Perhaps there is now a physical erosion taking place.


But despite suffering those knockdowns, Salido, 42-13-2 (29), gamely fought back by pressing forward and digging downstairs on Martinez, who, at times, seemed to be wilting but buoyed by the Puerto Rican partisans that filled the Coliseo Jose Miguel Agrelot. He was never knocked off his feet and every time it looked as though Salido would take full control of the proceedings, Martinez rallied back with a volley of punches.


While the defending champion was able to get inside often, Martinez’s long arms and reach troubled him throughout the night. Martinez uncharacteristically employed lateral movement to offset the aggression of the Mexican.


Despite coming on strong in the late rounds, Salido was never able to make Martinez fold. In the 11th round, Salido was deducted a point for low blows and as the final bell rang, you figured the two knockdowns and the late penalty on Salido would be difficult to overcome.


But as ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. read the scores, 114-111, 115-110 and 116-109, it turned out that in the eyes of the judges, Martinez had done more than enough over 12 rounds to capture this belt, with or without the knockdowns or point deduction. It was a well-earned, hard-fought victory for a fighter who’s gotten further along in this sport than he could have reasonably been expected.


Coming in, they dubbed this fight “The War.”


And that’s precisely what Martinez and Salido gave the fans.



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