NEW YORK – Sandor Martin didn’t pull off another huge upset Saturday night, but the Spanish southpaw gave Teofimo Lopez a much more difficult fight than the odds indicated he would.
Martin recorded a flash knockdown early in the second round, seemingly should’ve been credited for another knockdown early in the seventh round and topped Lopez on one scorecard in their 10-round, 140-pound main event at Madison Square Garden. Judges Max De Luca (96-93) and Pasqual Procopio (97-92) scored their thoroughly competitive contest for Lopez, who won a split decision.
Lopez lambasted Martin for “running” during the former lightweight champion’s post-fight interview and told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna that Martin didn’t come to entertain the announced crowd of 8,029 in their WBC elimination match. Most sportsbooks listed Lopez as at least a 7-1 favorite over Martin.
The Brooklyn-born Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs) won his second straight fight at the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds. He moved up from the lightweight division after Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. stunningly upset him by split decision in their 12-round fight for Lopez’s lightweight titles in November 2021 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater.
Barcelona’s Martin (40-3, 13 KOs) had his 11-fight winning streak snapped. Before Saturday night, he hadn’t lost since Swedish southpaw Anthony Yigit (then 19-0-1) beat him by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder in September 2017 in Solna, Sweden.
“It’s so hard to fight somebody like this, when they’re running the whole time,” Lopez told Osuna. “Every time this guy committed, I countered and got him every time. He just ran the whole time. It’s OK, though. We got a lot to work on. But first off, I want to thank God for this, no matter what it was. I apologize to everybody tonight. This is not how we perform. But listen, our dance partner was running the whole time. … Every time that this man wanted to commit, I was countering him and tagging him. That’s why he was running the whole time.”
CompuBox unofficially credited Lopez for landing 20 more punches overall than Martin (97-of-391 to 77-of-244). According to CompuBox, Lopez landed 31 more power punches (76-of-220 to 45-of-119) and Martin connected on 11 more jabs (32-of-125 to 21-of-171).
Martin, who stunningly upset Mikey Garcia in their 10-round, 144-pound fight in October 2021, replaced Jose Pedraza as Lopez’s opponent on 3½ weeks’ notice because Puerto Rico’s Pedraza (29-4-1, 14 KOs) contracted an undisclosed illness during training camp. The 29-year-old Martin was considered a tougher test for Lopez than Pedraza because he beat Garcia, a four-division champion, by majority decision in what was widely viewed as a safe fight that was supposed to keep Garcia busy.
After boxing well against Lopez on Saturday night, Martin dropped to his knees in celebration after the final bell sounded, as if he knew he had upset another former world champion who was heavily favored to win.
Lopez pressed the action right up until the final bell, but he couldn’t catch Martin with the type of punch that could put him down.
Martin drew another stern warning from referee Ricky Gonzalez for hitting Lopez while Lopez was caught between the top two ropes late in the 10th round. Lopez responded after the action resumed by blasting Martin with a right hand that snapped his head back with 25 seconds to go in their fight.
Martin landed a left to Lopez’s body barely 50 seconds into the 10th and final round.
Lopez was the aggressor again throughout the ninth round, but he didn’t land many flush punches in those three minutes. Martin caught Lopez with a short right hook with just over 40 seconds to go in the ninth round.
Martin’s left landed, but Lopez fired right back with a right hand with just under a minute remaining in what was a competitive eighth round.
A left-right combination by Lopez landed 35 seconds into the seventh round, but Martin quickly countered with a right hook that appeared to produce what should’ve been his second knockdown of the fight just a couple seconds later. Gonzalez didn’t count that as a knockdown, though, after Lopez went down to one knee.
With just over 20 seconds to go in the sixth round, Martin deliberately hit Lopez on the back of his head. Gonzalez admonished Martin for that deliberate foul.
Lopez drilled Martin with a right hand with just under 1:20 on the clock in the sixth round. Lopez pressured Martin at the start of the sixth round and landed a right hand as Martin backed into the ropes.
Martin’s right hook clipped Lopez as Lopez came toward him with 45 seconds to go in the fifth round. Lopez shook his head immediately to indicate that shot didn’t affect him.
Martin landed a short counter right as Lopez pressed forward just before the midway mark of the fifth round.
A right hand by Lopez caught Martin as he backed into the ropes with just over 10 seconds remaining in the fourth round. Martin had more difficulty countering Lopez with punches earlier in the fourth round than he did during each of the first three rounds.
A left hook by Lopez knocked Martin off balance with 1:20 to go in the third round. Barely 20 seconds later, Lopez landed a short, right uppercut that backed up Martin.
A straight left by Martin backed up Lopez less than 15 seconds into the third round. About 30 seconds later, Martin connected with a counter right hook similar to the shot that produced a knockdown early in the second round.
Martin scored a flash knockdown just 12 seconds into the second round. As Lopez pressed forward, Martin landed a right hook to the side of Lopez’s head that made Lopez touch the canvas briefly with both gloves.
Lopez wasn’t hurt and disputed the knockdown as he walked by Gonzalez, toward a neutral corner.
Martin kept his left glove held high and blocked several of Lopez’s hard right hands in the first round. An accidental clash of heads left Martin holding his head and bleeding from a cut on the bridge of his nose with just under 50 seconds to go in the opening round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
ADD COMMENT VIEW COMMENTS (322)