ATLANTIC CITY - A physicist doing a scientific paper on the aerodynamics of baseball could lecture on the whys and wherefores of a 100-mph fastball. He no doubt would expound at length about such things as arm velocity, leg drive, body torque and release point. He'd also probably make the subject matter seem stupefyingly boring.
Some things, like a Nolan Ryan heater buzzed under a hitter's chin, are better experienced than explained. And the same holds true of a truly spectacular knockout punch, the kind that can instantaneously separate the recipient from his senses.
WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez landed a shot in the second round at Boardwalk Hall Saturday night - a compact overhand left to the right cheekbone of challenger Paul Williams - which packed so much power that Williams pitched forward onto the canvas, face-first, not even attempting to break his fall. Referee Earl Morton didn't even bother with initiating the formality of a count.
"That punch would have knocked anyone on earth out," said Martinez' promoter Lou DiBella, apparently including everyone in the boxing business from very large heavyweights on down.
DiBella just might have been correct. One-punch knockouts are the fight game's ultimate exclamation point, as swift and as devastating as a bolt of lightning, and they happen infrequently enough that the best in show are seared into spectators' memories like a branding iron pressed upon a steer's backside.
Maybe the closest thing to what Martinez (46-2-2, 25 KOs) did to Williams (39-2, 27 KOs) in a significant fight of fairly recent vintage was the way Manny Pacquiao dispatched Ricky Hatton with a single, well-placed blow to the jaw in the second round of their matchup on May 2, 2009.
"It was much easier than I imagined," said Martinez, a 35-year-old Argentine southpaw who had lost a disputed majority decision to Williams in their first pairing on Dec. 5, 2009, also in Boardwalk Hall. "I didn't want the judges to rob me this time. In the second round I started to attack and when I did, I knew he was going to make a mistake."
Punch statistics furnished by CompuBox revealed that Williams landed 31 "power" punches - a power punch being defined as anything other than a jab - to 21 for Martinez, but those are just statistics. Some punches are not necessarily thrown to inflict damage, but to set up something of greater consequence. The scenario imagined by Martinez and his trainer, Gabriel Sarmiento, was that Williams, also a southpaw, would begin to unfurl a big shot of his own, only to be beaten to the punch by the quicker, stronger champion.
"I'm much faster than Paul Williams," Martinez noted.
Williams might dispute that, but there is no question he was attempting to bomb out Martinez before he did it to him.
"We were going to go to war," Williams said. "He was going to get me or I was going to get him."
What remains to be seen is what effect Martinez' star turn has on the ordering of boxing's pound-for-pound list, which at present is topped by Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Before the fight, DiBella had suggested that Martinez-Williams II winner would establish himself as the "temporary" third-place pound-for-pound guy behind Pacquiao and Mayweather, with an opportunity to possibly move up.
The spectacular takeout of Williams, though, had DiBella ready to promote his man all the way to No. 1.
"I got the best fighter in the world," DiBella said. Asked if he would now attempt to "chase" Pacquiao or Mayweather for a megabucks showdown with Martinez, he noted that, "You can't chase Mayweather and Pacquiao. They're going to fight whoever they want to fight. They're the guys generating the big money.
"I ain't trippin'. I don't think either one of those guys watched this fight and said, 'I want to fight Sergio Martinez.' I guarantee you that didn't happen."
Perhaps Martinez, a naturally bigger man than either Pacquiao or Mayweather, would be competitive, or more than that, against those superstars. What he is not, at least yet, is a comparable box-office draw. Pacquiao's Nov. 13 beatdown of Antonio Margarito in Cowboys Stadium had a paid attendance of 41,734 and did well on pay-per-view; Martinez-Williams II was witnessed by only 5,502 on-site spectators and was televised by HBO World Championship Boxing, not via PPV.
Nor is Martinez a growth property that can be brought along slowly until he becomes prominent enough to command "PacMan"-sized attention and purses. Already in his mid-30s, he insists he plans to remain active for no more than 2 years or three fights, whichever comes first.
So the push is on for him to procure the highest-visibility, best-paying gigs he can in the allotted time frame.
"Pacquiao's too small. It would be a mismatch," Martinez said of his chances of ever sharing a ring with the Filipino icon. "Mayweather is more likely."