Argentinian Sergio Martinez ended a game Matthew Macklin’s chances of scoring a huge upset with an eleventh round stoppage win at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The 37-year-old looked far from his age as he survived a rally by the Irishman between rounds three to seven, to come away with yet another win inside schedule, his fourth in a row since stopping Paul Williams.
Martinez started brightly as Macklin began to try and work out his southpaw stance and took the opening two rounds, before allowing the former European champion to gain a foothold over the next three.
Macklin, 29, then scored a suspect knockdown in the seventh when a punch-come-shove had Martinez touching down and referee Eddie Cotton gave him a standing eight-count.
All that did was incense the former unified champion into a dominant spell in the fight that culminated in two knockdowns in the eleventh round and Buddy McGirt in Macklin’s corner had seen enough to end the contest with his fighter on his stool asking to continue.
WBC champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. now lies in wait for Martinez if the Mexican comes through a June defense, possibly against Anthony Mundine or Martin Murray, and a chance for the former title-holder to reclaim his crown.