By Manuel Perez: Light middleweight power puncher Alex Bunema (30-6-2, 16 KOs) finally round out of luck on Saturday night, when he was way out of his league in terms of boxing skills and ended up being stopped at the end of the 8th round by Spaniard Sergio Martinez (44-1-1, 24 KOs) at the Pechanga Resort & Casino, in Temecula, California. Martinez, 33, in winning the fight, captured the interim WBC light middleweight title which was on the line on Saturday night. Bunema, also 33, and perhaps the hardest overall puncher in the light middleweight division, didn’t have the speed or the work rate to catch up to the elusive Martinez, and hence was unable to land anything of note in the fight.
Bunema was knocked down in the 3rd round by a left hook from Martinez, although he wasn’t hurt in that case. However, in the 7th round, Bunema was hurt, after getting hit with a flurry of hard punches from Martinez at midpoint of the round. On the verge of being knocked out, Bunema instinctively grabbed a hold of Martinez to prevent him from hitting him anymore. However, as soon as the two fighters were separated, Martinez continued hitting Bunema with a massive amount of punches until the end of the round. Even before hurting him in the round, though, Martinez had been tagging him repeatedly with hard jabs and left hands without one shot from Bunema coming back.
However, this wasn’t all that odd, because Martinez had been ceaselessly pounding the outclassed Bunema like this since the first round, and only rarely getting hit with anything in return. On the few occasions that Bunema would hit Martinez with a big shot, Martinez would respond with a flurry of punches, more than paying Bunema back for his transgression.
Martinez often kept both of his hands down by his sides, leaning forward and daring Bunema to try and hit him with a big shot. When Bunema would try to land a shot, Martinez would either back away and dodge the shot while firing back a counter right or left and nailing Bunema on the move. Martinez would then continue jabbing away at Bunema with near impunity, and hitting him with left hands and short flurries.
Bunema began looking increasingly frustrated by the 3rd round, like he had no idea what to do in order to try and land a shot. In some of his fights, Bunema had rallied to win fights with his big power, but in each of those fights he seemed confident, as if he knew he was eventually going to land something big.
Against Martinez, however, Bunema looked almost depressed and hopeless early on in the fight. His corner did a good job of motivating him and he tried responding with some good shots in the 4th round. Indeed, he hit Martinez with a lot of rights that would have stopped a lesser fighter, but Martinez took them and fired back with a flurry of shots, hitting Bunema like rifle fire to the head. At the same time, he made sure that Bunema wasn’t able to land many more of his big shots in the round.
Rounds five and six were like a boxing clinic for Martinez as he tore into Bunema with jabs and fast combinations while making him miss with his own shots. Bunema tried attacking, but succeeded in hitting nothing but air. Martinez began to look outright cocky by this time, which had to bug Bunema to no end, because he was strutting around like a peacock and playing to the crowd in between tagging Bunema with big shots. In the 7th round, Martinez hurt Bunema with a big flurry and looked to have the referee about the stop the fight at one point in the round. The 8th round was just as one-sided, as Martinez continued to flurry on Bunema and hit him at will with shots. After the round, the referee and ringside doctor went in and stopped the fight after giving Bunema a quick examination.
Up until Saturday night, 2008 had been a very good year for Bunema, bringing him from near anonymity to the world stage with his two victories over first Roman Karmazin and then Walter Dario Matthysse. However, neither of those two fighters, as good as they are, appeared to be in the same class of Martinez on Saturday night. Martinez looked as good as a prime Roy Jones Jr., the former middleweight and light heavyweight champion, and showed many of the same moves that Jones used to display earlier in his career before he lost much of his hand speed and foot movement.
It’s beyond me, however, where Martinez learned to fight like this, as he lives in Argentina and doesn’t spar with fighters anywhere close to resembling the style that Jones uses. On top of that, Martinez seems to have changed his fighting style in a relatively short period of time, because he didn’t look anything like the last fight I saw of Martinez, a 4th round TKO of Russell Jordon in December 2007. Martinez changed a great deal, and looks nothing like the same fighter that fought Jordon or the one that lost a 7th round TKO to Antonio Margarito back in February 2000.