Superman is just too speedy for brave Brit Macklin as Martinez proves his class again
19:49 GMT, 18 March 2012
There is no shame in losing to a great boxer. No need to apologise for being outclassed by a master of the noble art.
So when you go down fighting to a world champion who is being credited with the powers of a comic-book hero, all that really remains is to accept the commiserations and then let the medical specialists check that none of the damage is permanent.
That is what happened to Matthew Macklin and no-one – certainly none of the 5,000 Irish who sold out the Theater at Madison Square Garden on St Patrick's Day – will think any the worse of him.
Toe to toe: Macklin and Martinez square up
Superman, it turns out, is alive, well, and the toast of Gotham City following his latest feat, that of repulsing the dead-of-night invasion led here by a Birmingham-born son of Irish parents. Unusually, he is cloaked currently in the blue and white flag of Argentina and working on adding English as a second language to his native Spanish. Clark Kent now goes by the name of Sergio Martinez.
Superman That is what his promoter Lou DiBella called him after Martinez had switched on the after-burners and hammered Macklin into submission at the end of the 11th round.
Macklin believed he had come armed with kryptonite, in the form of the eight-year age difference between himself and the 37-year-old middleweight champion of the world.
But Superman doesn't grow old. Martinez is as phenomenal an athlete as ever and, most critically of all, still fights at the speed of light. Macklin is not the first highly capable man to be slain by punches from Martinez which are faster than the eye can see.
On the attack: Macklin fails to breach Martinez's defence
The first time Macklin fought for a world title he was robbed by a blatant home town decision in favour of Germany's Felix Sturm. This second time the hard old game did its best to compensate for that injustice, handing him a knock-down which looked more like a push and appointing one judge who couldn't see the Martinez punches, either.
To no avail. Macklin, bless him, reasoned later that he had the better of the middle rounds and that the momentum thus gained had been accelerated when his pressure compelled Martinez to touch down on the canvass with one glove.
As it happened, the referee's decision to award that phantom knock down in the seventh was the worst thing that could have happened for him. Martinez responded magnificently, stepping up his game to dominate every round thereafter.
Scything through: Martinez connects with a right jab
In the 11th – and what transpired to be the last – he floored Macklin twice. Each time it was his wicked southpaw left hand which inflicted the pain, just as that weapon had sent Macklin staggering three times earlier during the softening up process.
But it was the way he used his right – to deliberately knock his opponent's own right hand out of the way to open the path for his left – which made a masterpiece of the final knock down.
Macklin rose gallantly for the second time and the bell had already sounded as the standing count reached eight. But, despite his protestations. his new American trainer Buddy McGirt refused to let him go out for a final round in which he would assuredly have been KO'd and probably badly hurt.
Floored: Macklin was knocked down in the 11th round
That merciful decision spared not only Macklin but the judge who had them level when it ended. Bad officiating is a blight on boxing at the moment. Martinez was four points ahead on the two other scorecards which would have mattered while both Jim Watt, Sky's ex-world champion commentator, and myself had him six in front.
It is one thing for the man up there taking the punches to convince himself, as Macklin put it, that he was in the driving seat. Another altogether for a judge to misread the fight so badly.
One misfortune for Macklin was that Martinez had whipped himself into far better shape than he did prior to labouring a little before knocking out another English challenger, Darren Barker, last autumn.
In Saturday night's condition and form, Superman ranks with Floyd Mayweather Jnr and Manny Pacquaio as one of the three best pound-for-pound boxers in the world. As a natural light-middleweight, he keeps knocking out bigger men.
Delight: Martinez retained his middleweight crown
Even though he is the lineal middleweight champion – and has the Ring world title to prove it – it is a scandal that the holders of the other alphabelts are allowed to keep ducking him.
DiBella is finding it harder to fix a unification fight for Martinez with WBC champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr – who prefers a voluntary defence against another Brit, Martin Murray – than he expects it will be to bring Macklin back into the loop.
Of Macklin's decision to move to New York, DiBella says: 'Matthew has found a home here, along with many new fans. Nor will he have to take on Superman every time he fights.'
And that, citizens, is a relief.