LAS VEGAS -- Roman "Rocky" Martinez appeared to be lucky to retain his junior lightweight world title by split draw in a rematch with former titleholder Orlando Salido in an action-packed fight on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
One judge had it 115-113 for Salido, one had it by the same score for Martinez and one judge had the fight 114-114. ESPN.com had it 116-112 for Salido in the co-featured bout on the Floyd Mayweather-Andre Berto undercard.
"I threw a lot of punches. There will definitely be a third fight," Martinez said. "I thought I did what I had to do. That was what the judges thought. Salido came well prepared but he threw a lot of headbutts. I thought I did what I had to do in the closing stages to win."
Salido was bitterly disappointed.
"I thought I won the fight," he said. "I thought the first couple of rounds were even but I took it after that. I dedicated myself too much for this outcome. I did everything I could to win."
When they met for the first time on April 11 on Martinez's turf in San Juan, Puerto Rico, they battled hard in a fight of the year candidate. But Martinez, aided by two knockdowns and a Salido point deduction, won a decision and reclaimed a belt to make him a three-time 130-pound title winner.
It was such an exciting and competitive fight that a rematch was natural, and with Mayweather-Berto taking place on Mexican Independence Day weekend, it made sense to have a significant world title bout with a Mexican fighter on the card.
They did not disappoint as both fighters hit the deck, and there were plenty of exciting exchanges.
Both fighters got knocked down in the second round, but the one referee Vic Drakulich called against Martinez was dubious. Television replays clearly showed Salido, 34, of Mexico, stepped on Martinez's foot, causing him to go down without being hit by a punch.
But later in the round, Martinez scored an authentic knockdown when he nailed Salido with a clean right hand that sent him to the canvas.
They traded back and forth for long stretches with both fighters being aggressive, but Salido, who won versions of the featherweight title three times, had a particularly strong seventh round as he put Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KOs), 32, of Puerto Rico, on his heels by landing a series of left hooks and body shots. Salido (42-13-3, 29 KOs) continued to apply intense pressure in the eighth round -- he threw 119 punches, a high total -- and Martinez was clearly tiring.
Salido was relentless throughout the fight, putting his down and getting in Martinez's chest, especially in the second half of the fight, but it was not enough to sway two judges.
Salido was busy. According to CompuBox, he landed 285 of 1,037 punches (27 percent) while Martinez connected on 189 of 691 blows (27 percent).
Jack edges Groves by split decision
Super middleweight titleholder Badou Jack used a strong jab and right hand to power his way to a spirited split decision against mandatory challenger George Groves to retain his belt for the first time.
Two judges favored Jack, a protégé of Mayweather, 116-111 and 115-112, and one judge had it 114-113. ESPN.com had it 116-111 for Jack.
"Groves is a hell of a fighter. He came prepared to go 12 rounds," Jack said. "He has a good jab and I wasn't effective enough going to the body. That's what I do and I want to get better at it."
Jack (20-1-1, 12 KOs), 31, a Sweden native living in Las Vegas, where he trains with Mayweather, scored a knockdown in the final seconds of the opening round when he hurt Groves with a right hand and then landed another to send him to the mat -- just as Groves' British fans began to chant for him.
Jack's jab was on point, and he also rocked Groves (21-3, 16 KOs), 27, of England, with a right uppercut late in the third round. He appeared stronger than Groves and more accurate with his punches, although it appeared to be a competitive fight throughout.
Groves, who lost his previous two world title fights by knockout to countryman Carl Froch, appeared to be tiring in the ninth round as Jack backed him into the ropes and landed a solid right hand and then two more that backed him up again as the round ended.
Jack will have plenty of options for notable fights, including two potential opponents that would not be hard to make because of their affiliation with manager Al Haymon.
"There's a lot of good fights for me, [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr.. He says he wants to fight me. There's [former titlist] Lucian Bute."
While Groves landed more punches, Jack doubled him on connect percentage. According to CompuBox statistics, Jack landed 201 of 506 punches (42 percent), and Groves connected on 154 of 721 shots (21 percent).
Groves felt he won.
"I thought I won the fight decisively. All credit to him though, scoring the knockdown in the first round," Groves said. "I thought I controlled the fight with my jab and that I was in control throughout; it appeared closer to the judges. Congrats to Badou. I hope he has a successful reign as champion. I'd love to fight him again and hopefully I will do better next time."
• Junior lightweight Jonathan Oquendo (26-4, 16 KOs) won a majority decision against former bantamweight and featherweight titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez (58-10, 49 KOs) in a grueling, bloody fight.
Two judges had it for Oquendo, 98-92 and 95-93, and one had the fight 94-94. ESPN.com also had it 94-94.
"I feel very happy," Oquendo said. "Gonzalez is a great champion. I knew I had to throw a lot more punches and work hard to get on the inside in order to get the victory, and I was able to implement that game plan."
Gonzalez, 33, of Mexico, got off to a strong start with a first-round knockdown when he caught Oquendo, 32, of Puerto Rico, with a left uppercut, although Gonzalez suffered a cut over his right eye in the second round. Oquendo came back strong in the second round as he nailed Gonzalez with a right hand to knock him down.
As expected, it was a rough, physical fight that included Oquendo also suffering a bad cut over his right eye. In the ninth round, Gonzalez's face was covered with blood, and the cut was bad enough that referee Russell Mora called timeout to have it examined by the ringside doctor.
"I don't agree with the judges," said Gonzalez, who was in his second fight as a junior lightweight since losing his featherweight world title to Gary Russell Jr. by fourth-round knockout on March 3. "They favored him too much. He kept headbutting me. It just didn't go well."
• Junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan (36-2-1, 21 KOs) scored two knockdowns and outpointed former titleholder Ishe Smith (27-8,12 KOs) by majority decision. Martirosyan appeared to dominate, but only two judges gave it to him, both 97-91, while one judge scored the fight 95-95.
Just as the third round was coming to an end, Martirosyan caught Smith with a right hand that knocked him to the canvas, although he easily beat the count and did not appear badly hurt. However, Smith had been winning the round to that point.
Martirosyan, 29, a 2004 U.S. Olympian from Glendale, California, and former world title challenger, countered Smith well and used his longer jab to keep him away. Smith was often off balance, too, and wide with his punches.
Martirosyan scored another knockdown when he nailed Smith, 37, of Las Vegas, with an overhand right late in the eighth round. He barely beat the count, and then the bell rang to end the round.
• Dayton, Ohio, middleweight prospect Chris Pearson (13-0, 10 KOs) outlasted Janks Trotter (9-2-1, 9 KOs) in a grueling, bloody fight, stopping him in the seventh round. Trotter gave Pearson, whom many regard as the best prospect in the Mayweather Promotions stable, all kinds of trouble with his relentless style in the action-packed fight. He opened a cut over Pearson's left eye in the fourth round with an accidental headbutt and landed numerous flush punches. But Pearson also landed many power shots during their fierce exchanges. In the sixth round, he dropped Janks and had him in trouble. Late in the seventh round, Pearson nailed Trotter with a series of shots, and as he went stumbling across the ring, referee Robert Byrd called off the fight at 2 minutes, 59 seconds.
• Junior welterweight Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (2-0, 1 KO), of Uzbekistan, rolled to a shutout decision against Farkhad Sharipov (4-5, 1 KO), of Kazakhstan. He won 60-53 on all three scorecards.
• Baltimore junior lightweight prospect Gervonta Davis (12-0, 11 KOs) needed only 94 seconds to blow out the Philippines' Recky Dulay (8-2, 5 KOs). Davis dropped Dulay twice with left hands, and although Dulay beat the count following the second knockdown, he did not want to continue and referee Russell Mora waved it off.
• Las Vegas-based Romanian super middleweight Ronald Gavril (14-1, 10 KOs) pounded Scott Sigmon (25-8-1, 14 KOs), of Bedford, Virginia, into submission for an eighth-round knockout in a one-sided fight. Gavril laid a beating on him until referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight at the end of the eighth round on advice of the ringside doctor.
• British welterweight Ashley Theophane (38-7-1, 11 KOs) cruised to a unanimous decision against Philadelphia's Steve Upsher (25-5-1, 6 KOs), winning 100-90, 98-92 and 97-93.
• Atlanta junior welterweight Trakwon Pettis (1-0, 1 KO) dropped Devante Seay (0-10-1), of Martinsville, Virginia, three times, all with body shots, en route to a knockout at 2 minutes, 24 seconds of the first round.