Boxing Results: Julio Cesar Martinez defeats Jay Harris
By Dean Berman: Julio Cesar Martinez had to fight tooth and nail to retain his WBC flyweight title against the highly talented Jay Harris in 12 round unanimous decision victory last Saturday night at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
This was easily the most exciting match on the card by far, and it set the bar high for the two fights that came after between Mikey Garcia and Jessie Vargas and Kal Yafai and Roman Gonzalez. Neither of those contests was able to match the excitement and back and forth action that we saw with the Martinez vs. Harris fight.
Martinez-Harris fight closer than the judges’ scores
Martinez (16-1, 12 KOs) knocked Harris (17-1, 9 KOs) down in round 10 but struggled the rest of the way against the Welsh fighter in winning a fight much closer than the scores handed in by the 3 judges. They scored it 118-109, 116-111 and 115-112. The 118-109 score didn’t match the fight that took place last night, as Martinez appeared to just barely edge it.
“I was watching him all week, and I’ve been there before where Brits are massive underdogs…in the first round with Jay Harris, I was thinking, ‘this is going to be over in 2 or 3 rounds and it could actually be embarrassing,‘” said Eddie Hearn to IFL TV on Harris’ performance against Martinez.
The Eddy Reynoso-trained 25-year-old Martinez looked like he was going to run away with the fight in the 1st round, being that Harris came out cold and was marked up immediately. However, from the 2nd round on, Harris’ technical boxing skills and ring composure enabled him to fight Martinez on even terms much of the time.
Martinez’s hand speed and power advantage enabled him to win rounds, but Harris made it close. Harris’ ability to come in the last 20 seconds of every round, it made it difficult to score the fight.
Jay Harris finished rounds well
Harris made it a point to come back strong each time it looked like Martinez was dominating. The combination punching, speed, and mobility made him a nightmare for the shorter Martinez.
This fight was assumed to be a blowout in the eyes a lot of boxing fans coming into the match last Saturday. The young Martinez was making his first defense of his WBC 112-lb title that he recently won last December in stopping former WBC flyweight champion Cristofer Rosales (29-5, 20 KOs) in Phoenix, Arizona.
Harris, who works full time for Amazon in Wales, he put everything he had into this fight and got the better of Martinez at times. Ultimately, Martinez’s speed, power, and relentless attacking style carried him to victory.
Martinez chose not to attack Harris with the same reckless abandon that he’d used in his two previous fights against Rosales and former WBC champion Charlie Edwards. What may have dissuaded Martinez from fighting that way was the toughness, speed and sustained combinations that Harris was hitting him with.
Martinez was hit a lot by Harris
Harris was throwing 4 and 5-punch combinations, and nailing Martinez with shots. Also, when Martinez was coming forward to attack with his hands down, Harris would catch him with powerful left hooks while retreating backward.
Many times in the fight, Harris nailed Martinez with left hooks or jabs as he was coming forward. Martinez’s bad habit of attacking with his hands down by his waist made him vulnerable for Harris’ shots.
What was surprising is how Harris turned the attack on Martinez in the championship rounds and forced him back repeatedly. Martinez had to give ground and was hit a lot. It looked like Harris was the superior fighter down the home stretch of the fight, aside from the 10th in which he was dropped by a right-hand from Martinez to the body.
Hearn says Martinez looked flat
“He [Harris] got marked up and buzzed a little bit, and then he composed himself, stuck to the game plan, listened to his dad, and he boxed fantastically well,” said Hearn. “After six or seven rounds, I was thinking, ‘Martinez looks a little flat.’ Martinez has been hyped; it’s probably my fault as well. I’ve hyped Martinez up. You see him thinking, ‘I can just walk through walls,’ and he’s going to learn a lot as well,” said Hearn.
Martinez attacked Harris aggressively early on in the contest and forced him to retreat to avoid the heavy shots that he was winging with both hands. The first two rounds of the fight were among the best for Martinez, who did a lot of damage to Harris’s face during this time.
Harris’ nose was bloodied, and his eyes were reddened from the heavy shots from Martinez. Jay boxed and moved away from Martinez the best he could in the first two rounds, but he was still hit with some massive shots.
Had the fight continued in the same direction, it’s very likely that Martinez would have knocked Harris out, as he was doing a lot of damage in that part of the fight. Harris was boxing beautifully, but Martinez attacking at high speed, making it tough on him to avoid his hard shots.
Martinez’s knockdown of Harris changed the fight
“It was only the knockdown and that little bit of momentum in the middle of the fight that changed [everything]. I thought, ‘118-109 was disgusting, to be honest with you.’ I had him [Martinez] winning by three rounds, that was it. I thought Jay Harris was outstanding,” said Hearn.
The knockdown in the 10th that Martinez scored over Harris was key to him getting the victory because it appeared that the Welsh fighter was taking over the contest going into that round. The knockdown put Harris on the defensive, and he wasn’t quite as strong afterward until the 12th, which is when he went all out in throwing shots with abandon to win the round. Harris listened to his dad and fought well in the 12th, but it wasn’t enough. Martinez had already put a lot of rounds in the bank and was given the win.
In losing the fight, Harris made a name for himself, as there’s not too many fighters in the flyweight division that would give Martinez the same kind of problems.
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