Don Haskins Center, EL PASO, Oct. 21
PENALOSA landed big lefts. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA

For me, the highlight of Saturday’s PPV show was Gerry Penalosa’s polished and powerful display in knocking out Mauricio Martinez in the ninth round of a fight between world-class bantamweights.

This was a fight that viewers would not have seen had the originally scheduled featherweight title fight between Juan Manuel Marquez and Jimrex Jaca not been scuppered by Jaca’s visa problems.

Of course, it would have been nice to have seen Marquez — but for aficionados the impressive display by the Filipino Penalosa went a long way to making up for it.

The Panamanian Martinez was the naturally bigger man but, surprisingly, Penalosa had the superior firepower.

I thought that Penalosa, a former 115-pound champ, would win by smart boxing and hand speed. Instead he proved to be the puncher in the fight.

Martinez was the busier boxer in the meeting of southpaws but Penalosa landed by far the bigger shots, knocking down the Panamanian with thudding left hands in the first and fourth rounds before a final left-hand blockbuster ended it in the ninth. When Martinez pitched face-first to the canvas it was enough for referee Ruben Carrion to wave the finish, after 66 seconds of the round — there was no need to count.

When Martinez was not being knocked down he seemed to be right in the fight — but every time Martinez seemed to be coming on, he would get caught and hurt by the left hand. The shorter Penalosa was also doing a good job with his southpaw jab that repeatedly smacked into the Panamanian’s increasingly battered-looking face.

After eight rounds Penalosa was in front by scores of 79-71, 79-71 again and 76-74, but even though Martinez’s legs were not looking too steady he was still competitive, although fading. Then Penalosa, increasing the pressure at exactly the right moment, hurt him in the ninth and did not let him off the hook.

After a 17-year career and 58 fights, Penalosa looked probably as good as he has ever looked. Manny Pacquiao is the superstar of trainer Freddie Roach’s Filipino connection, but Penalosa’s star burned brightly in El Paso.

Last Updated: 
October 23, 2006 - 3:04pm