With an attendance on hand totaling over 19,000 attendees, the ruckus crowd at the Thomas and Mack Center were treated to what almost turned into a flashback of 1990. When Julio Cesar Chavez, in the same city, was dominated throughout eleven one-sided rounds, until Chavez landed a hail mary right hand to reverse his fortunes against Meldrick Taylor. The son of the former three division World Champion, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, (46-1-1, 32 KOs) nearly mimicked his father’s famous victory this past Saturday night.
After being outboxed, and controlled on the outside by the faster, more elusive, and experienced Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez, (50-2-2, 29 KOs) throughout the first eleven stanzas, Chavez Jr connected with a straight right hand that badly staggered the Argentine Champion. Chavez Jr would then follow up his punch with a barrage of hooks from each hand, eventually dropping Martinez. After being relatively quiet throughout much of the night, the Mexican contingency on hand for Chavez Jr erupted. Martinez arose off the canvas, and instead of holding on, he immediately began exchanging bombs with Chavez Jr. The Chavez Jr supporters now felt a knockout coming, waiting for the bloodied Martinez to be caught with another set of big punches to seal the deal for Chavez Jr.
However, it was to no avail. Martinez showed exactly why he’s where he is today. It’s not all about Martinez’s hand speed, movement, and unorthodox style. “Maravilla” showed he has all of those qualities as well as a trait all great champions have: Heart. Martinez, to the dismay of roughly half of the audience on hand, wouldn’t let Chavez Jr steal from him what he had been waiting for his whole career: Mainstream respect and appreciation for his talent
Martinez now has the recognition he’s longed for. His challenger, the gutsy, stone headed Julio Cesar Chavez Jr also got the monkey off his back. Ever since Chavez Jr has ventured into the Professional ranks, he’s struggled mightily to be respected as a good young fighter. Many boxing insiders and fans alike said his whole career was a charade for dollars at some points.
Chavez’s inexperience however, exposed itself throughout the fight. He allowed Martinez to pile up points on the scorecards round after round, and by the time he unleashed his best work it was too little, too late.
Early on, through the first three rounds, it was competitive. Chavez Jr was forcing Martinez onto the ropes, and into the the corners more so than to Martinez’s liking. After the third however, Martinez made some brilliant adjustments. From rounds four to eleven, Chavez was in large part following Martinez, no longer consistently trapping him onto the ropes or into the corners.
Martinez began controlling Chavez Jr with his southpaw jab, keeping him at a distance of Martinez’s liking while working the jab up top and to the body. This left the younger Chavez Jr befuddled, and seemingly discouraged more and more as the middle rounds transitioned into the Championship rounds. Chavez Jr’s punch output was consistently being outworked by Martinez, and that spells doom for a fighter looking to impose his size, strength, and pressure as a means to victory. Due to some nifty movement and accurate punching, Instead, Chavez Jr fought cautious and allowed Martinez to dictate the action in the center of the ring.
This was all leading to a dominant performance by Martinez, until Chavez Jr truly gave spectators some theatre. With the exception of a few good left hooks to the body by Chavez Jr, his primary weapon had in large part been neutralized. Chavez Jr would now have to do what Martinez had done to him after the third round, make a brilliant adjustment. Rather than loading up one big shot, or only dropping the left hook downstairs to the body, Chavez Jr switched it up and caught Martinez off guard with a straight right hand that sent Martinez into the ropes. Chavez Jr finally then let his hands go the way he should have much more often throughout the night, and after a barrage of punches, Chavez Jr got in a bone crunching left hook that sent Martinez onto the canvas. The Thomas and Mack Center momentarily felt like the official site of Mexican Independence Day, as beers were being thrown as often as punches from the pugilist.
Martinez was seriously hurt, and would later need to go to the hospital to get a check up on his eye. But Martinez showed guts the size of Argentina and fought off the younger, stronger bull to retain his Championship, and the two warriors gave us what will be in all probability The Round of the Year.
Oh! but blasphemy! this was not enough. This cannot be the finale to this rivalry. If it was 1985, who knows? Maybe Chavez Jr gets Martinez out of there in the 14th, but alas those days are no more. Everybody from fans, to media alike clamored for a rematch 30 seconds after Michael Buffer announced Martinez’s as the deserved World’s Middleweight Champion. The public wants a return bout not because of controversy, or dispute on the final verdict, but rather excitement. Maybe Chavez Jr learned on the fly during his first fight against elite competition, and figured out how to compete at that level by the end of the bout. Thus causing some to believe that a rematch would produce more of the fireworks seen in round 12, than in contrast to the one-sided action that was going on in the first eleven. Those final three minutes changed many boxing fan’s opinions. Many viewing the fight were probably beginning to say “Next” for Martinez. But with the drama in the final round ensuing, boxing fans would be more than happy to see these two give it another go round.
This fight lived up to, and exceeded expectations. At the box offices, the Pay Per View purchases, and most importantly in the entertainment department. Fans were treated to a helluva scrap, and a tremendous performance by Martinez, and both fighters gave their all, literally exchanging until the final bell.
Along with last week’s bout between Andre Ward and Chad Dawson, this fight showed why boxing is beloved so religiously by it’s fans. When the best fight the best, it shows why The Sweet Science has been beloved for over a 100 years. When the magic of two elite fighters in their primes crossing paths happens, the audience is usually in store for the finest performances individually, or together, from both men seen in boxing history. Because in boxing, to be the best you have to want to fight and beat the best. So when the sport’s most virtuous practitioners meet in the squared circle, greatness incites more greatness.
As for a potential rematch, both men will have to make adjustments. Martinez perhaps will have to find a way to lessen the exchanges, and make Chavez Jr fight to his liking more often and in the center of the ring. As for Chavez Jr, he’ll need to take what he executed in the final round and bring it all out from the get go. He’ll have to better his ability to punch while applying his pressure. If Chavez Jr continues to have his feet in cement while trying to track down Sergio Martinez, he’ll never defeat him.
Much respect to both warriors for putting on a great show that gave fan’s their money’s worth. The man of the hour though, is the marvelous Sergio Martinez. The charismatic Argentine Champion didn’t pick up boxing until age 20, migrated to Spain to try and make it in life, and now has risen to the top. Martinez now no longer just sits atop pound-for-pound lists or the Middleweight throne, “Maravilla” has turned himself into a legitimate ticket seller.
Although many will want an immediate rematch, Martinez’s promoter, Lou Dibella, said a rematch will happen if it makes the most sense economically. Translation: whichever fight brings in the most money, and if that happens to be Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, Andre Ward, or Floyd Mayweather so be it. Martinez deserves to pursue the biggest fights/purses possible at this point in his career.
As For Chavez Jr, if a rematch isn’t immediately in his future, a mouth watering bout could be made between himself and rising Middleweight star, Gennady Golovkin.