Let’s Dance: Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez

By Teron Briggs on July 12, 2012
Let’s Dance: Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez
DiBella said, “This is the best fight you can make in the middleweight division, period.”

Can Martinez, whose last four opponents haven’t been able to make it to the 12th and final round, inflict damage on a much larger man?

NEW YORK CITY—At today’s presser at the Edison Ballroom in Times Square to announce the Sept. 15th HBO pay-per-view fight between WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32 KOs) and WBC “Diamond” champion Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs), interpreters were on hand to translate for the Spanish speakers. They were a welcome addition, but weren’t needed, because world-class trash talk speaks a language all its own.

“On the 15th of September the bullshit that he talked,” said an obviously antagonized Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., who was also on hand to celebrate his 50th birthday, “he’s going to eat it.” A year’s worth of verbal jabbing by Martinez has gotten under Team Chavez’s skin. Fernando Beltran, co-promoter of Chavez, took aim at both Sergio and his advisor, the loquacious Sampson Lewkowicz. “A few months ago I said on the radio that Sergio is a clown. I would like to confirm that today,” said Beltran while staring menacingly in the direction of Martinez’s team. That didn’t sit well with Sampson, who stood up and made a motion toward Beltran as if he was going to let his fists do the talking. Beltran either didn’t notice or care. Instead, he called Lewkowicz a “clown” another time. Junior, not to be outdone, added his two cents. He called Sergio a “ballerina,” presumably because of his stint on the Argentinean version of “Dancing with the Stars,” and not because Marvilla intends to dance circles around his bigger foe.

Team Martinez more than held their own against their worthy Mexican counterparts. Lewkowicz told the photographers on hand to “make sure you take pictures of him (Junior) because after September 15th you won’t be able to recognize him.” Sergio appeared to change the general tone when he thanked Chavez for accepting the fight—instead of continuing to “run like a chicken.” The animosity between the two sides, genuine or feigned, makes the split between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes look amicable.

Sergio and his people have been calling out Chavez for what seems like forever. In their minds, Chavez is a paper champion whose WBC belt belongs to Martinez. He vacated the belt after HBO refused to air his title defense against a relative unknown, the same relative unknown Junior would go on to beat on HBO to win his first title. No wonder Maravilla is disgruntled. Most pundits figured Bob Arum wouldn’t let his cash cow anywhere near the universally recognized best middleweight in the world. Top Rank had in Chavez a fighter with an unblemished record, a huge fan base and very little seasoning. Sergio by contrast was near the top of many writers’ pound-for-pound list. Arum didn’t think his young charge was ready for that kind of challenge, at least not yet.

A lot has changed over the last year. The 37-year-old Martinez has continued to rack up victories, but one can hear rumblings through the grapevine that his age is beginning to catch up with him. Sergio was knocked down in his last bout against Matthew Macklin, and trailed on the early scorecards before he stopped the game challenger.

Junior, on the other hand, has upped his game and added some quality notches on his holster. He outgunned Peter Manfredo. He won a decision over hardnosed Marco Antonio Rubio. He beat Andy Lee into submission in his last outing. Arum, who is as risk adverse—or almost as risk adverse—as any promoter in boxing today, admitted that “now [Chavez Jr.] is ready.”

Martinez is one of the most gifted athletes in the sport and possesses above average hand speed. He also possesses the kind of power that enabled him to win the 2010 ESPN “Knockout of the Year” award by flattening Paul Williams in two rounds. Sergio’s ability to fight with his hands held at his waist, so he can load up on his shots while circling and at times even standing directly in front of his opponent, is fascinating to watch. Junior, who grew up surrounded by wealth and privilege, certainly doesn’t fight like a trust fund baby. His lunch pail fighting style is highlighted by a signature brutal body attack. His strong set of whiskers and weight advantage—he will probably outweigh Martinez by at least fifteen pounds on fight night—makes him a formidable foe. Can Martinez, whose last four opponents haven’t been able to make it to the 12th and final round, inflict damage on a much larger man?

Martinez’s promoter, Lou DiBella, summed it up best when he said, “This is the best fight you can make in the middleweight division, period.”

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  1. raxman 03:20pm, 07/15/2012

    bk don - they may’ve been top ten middleweights but in the modern world of boxing that doesn’t mean much. maravilla took them coz he knew they were safe fights. we should have been watching martinez fighting pirog or sturm or geale; then we would know if he was actually the best 160 pounder in the world

  2. tye thresher 01:12pm, 07/15/2012

    Prov. I’m coming out with a piece on this soon, but right now I am under the weather. This is an easy fight to analyze but a very difficult one in which to pick a winner.

  3. Don from Prov 10:08am, 07/14/2012

    Thresher: I think that Martinez can be seen as vulnerable because of age and because he is going to be fighting a much larger man who just may walk through his punches.  Martinez could come to wish this fight had been made a few years ago, but 1) nothing that happens in this bout will make me believe that Martinez is some fraud who may be exposed, and 2) I do now see Chavez as being a test, at least at 160 lbs. (which he will not weigh). 

    If Martinez is such a fraud, why won’t Floyd even think of hearing his name at 154 lb.?  He had no trouble facing Cotto at that weight, and I’m very willing to bet that the difference in weight between Chavez and Martinez on fight night will be far wider than any difference between Floyd and Martinez would be: The men are around the same size and should fight before one or both are too old.  But then Manny and Floyd should fight before they are dyeing the grey out of there hair.  And that sure doesn’t seem likely.

  4. the thresher 02:10pm, 07/13/2012

    Martinez has late power—something that is rare in boxing. He also wears out his opponents in the late rounds. Junior needs to close the distance and be able to handle Sergio’s power potshots.

    If everyone seems to have Martinez way up on the P4P list, how can he be called anything but a solid favorite in this one?

  5. Mike Schmidt 11:24am, 07/13/2012

    Sergio is a credit to boxing for sure. I think this is one of those rare fights that is a real can’t pick ‘em fight and that is reflected, at least to this point, in the sport book being as close as it has for a major Vegas title fight in probably the last 20 years. I think Jr moving up to 168 okay but up at 175 with big strong power fighters like Shumenov and Tarvaris Cloud is not going to a good career choice

  6. Donald Wolberg 11:05am, 07/13/2012

    Mr. Martinez is a very gifted and talented boxer. He is clearly an exceedingly good person as well as is seen by his work work with children. As a champion, he has come of age, and until the clock catches up with him, he will continue to dominate. His training regimen is arduous and well planned, and it is certain that he will spar with much larger people, as he has done in the past. He certainly beat Paul Williams the first time they met, and devastated Williams when they met again. Williams was a much stronger fighter than Mr. Chavez, much in the style and physical attributes of Tommy Hearns in his prime. In his last fights, Mr. Chavez clearly had difficulty making weight, staying in top physical condition for whatever reason, an requiring extreme measures to lose water. Of course the result was that he rapidly bloated by fight time, impacting his performance. He struggled early in the Andy Lee fight and Lee actually gave a good account of himself until worn down by the much larger Chavez. Mr. Chavez really needs to move up one or two divisions to be comfortable with whatever his natural weight is. But, more importantly, he has to find the will to train well and not rely on size alone against smaller opponents. Mr. Martinez will, I think, deliver a stellar performance if only because he does not have a lot of excess baggage, emotional or physical.

  7. mike schmidt 06:18am, 07/13/2012

    These pound-for-pound ratings are sometimes in part a matter of who gets TV and promo exposure—are these two very very good fighters as good, pound for pound as Roman “El Chocolatito” Gonzales or perhaps Anselmo ” El Chemito” Moreno—just saying—where is The Bull when you need him—Ted jump on in please. Either way I think it is a good fight—Sergio reminds me of Roy Jones in one context—he is a technical, traditionally training style, disaster—he has gotten by as a superior athlete with cat-like reflexes and he is very very tough mentally and physically (go back and watch his Margo fight—he took a shit kicking late in that fight and refused to go down—he is a tough tough guy) so you always wonder with a guy his age as to when the relexes fall off the bus and he starts to get hit with shots he used to roll with to a degree—GONNA BE A GREAT FIGHT

  8. bk don 05:59am, 07/13/2012

    Raxman - those b level euro fighters were top ten middleweights. Chavez has most definitely faced less credible opponents and I wonder how he would fare against some of the guys that Sergio has fought. I do agree that Sergio’s p4p position is misleading, but he’s certainly proved himself to be the best middleweight in the world.

  9. bk don 05:54am, 07/13/2012

    I feel like there aren’t a lot of questions hovering around Chavez Jr in regards to PEDs. Shane Mosley, Fernando Vargas, Roy Jones Jr. and a number of other fighters have tested positive or admitted to some form of juicing. They were never held to a higher standard in their subsequent bouts. Jr tested positive for a diuretic in a previous fight. That’s unacceptable but it’s not uncommon in sport where men fight walk around 20 to 30 lbs heavier than they fight at. The controversy surrounding the Lee pre-fight pee sample was way overblown. Unless you’re going to insist fighters in the sport do VADA testing there’s no reason to single out Jr.

  10. MIKE SCHMIDT 04:53am, 07/13/2012

    smoking GUN, and fun

  11. mike schmidt 04:51am, 07/13/2012

    This looks to be a GREAT FIGHT and HUGE THUMBS UP TO CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD BOB ARUM AND TO LOU D. FOR PUTTING THIS TOGETHER ON BEHALF OF ALL BOXING FANS—WISH WE COULD GO BACK TO THE OLD MONZON DAYS AND MAKE THIS A FIFTEEN—From a business standpoint this fight should with Wynn Resorts as a sponsor bring in some premium players and “Whales”—nobody does it better than Mr. Steve Wynn so that is again a HUGE BONUS HAVING STEVE WYNN/WYNN RESORTS IN. It will add to fight night STAR APPEAL—OHHHHHHHHH IT IS GOING TO BE A GOOD NIGHT—Let’s not get the non-smoking fun going here on VADA-as Mr. Bob Arum mentioned—Carlos Monzon was as big or bigger than Jr. he worked his butt off to make the weight—Jr looks close to weight already. WE HAVE OURSELVES A REAL GREAT MATCHUP ON THIS ONE LADS—CLAP CLAP TO TWO PROMOTERS PUTTING THIS ONE ON—SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER!!!!!!!!

  12. Pete The Sneak 04:43am, 07/13/2012

    I too am looking forward to this scrap (scrap, not crap I hope). But as McGrain so eloquently put it below, the questions about Chavez’s drug testing and weight issues do raise somewhat of a red flag. Will there be VADA testing for this fight? With the kind of year we’ve had with all the postponed fights (see Peterson, Berto, etc.) due to PED use, I’m hoping that everything does come back clean and we can actually enjoy a fight that we have been looking forward to see and that no suprises show up two weeks before fight time. Sorry for the Doom and Gloom, but such is the state of Boxing today, where you actually have to hope that a fight announced in July makes it to September. Peace.

  13. Joe 03:42am, 07/13/2012

    This is a very interesting matchup; the fight of both guys lives quite frankly.  At this point in the process, I’m of the opinion that Maravilla is going to box the legends sons’ ears off.

  14. raxman 02:58am, 07/13/2012

    one of these guys is going to be exposed for a fraud - and i think its going to be martinez. one of the greatest smoke and mirrors reputations of all time - a mediocre fighter for 40 odd fights and at 37 he has two good wins (which subsequently don’t really hold up as pavlik was proved broken and p-dub exposed as having a terribly flawed technique) and then he fights B level euro fighters - in some cases struggles - and gets to #3 on p4p list.
    chavez has a less credible resume but at least he hasn’t be falsely portrayed as p4p

  15. McGrain 02:20am, 07/13/2012

    I’m stoked for this as a sporting contest, but is anyone else a little uncomfortable with the #1 slot at MW being up for grabs with all the questions hovering over Chavez in relation to drug testing?  I had hoped that Chavez would have been able to deliver a clean, controversy free drugs test before he had the opportunity to become p4p and the best fighter in a cornerstone division…if Chavez wins it will be in part due to his huge size and people seem to be suggesting that his uncanny ability to gain enormous amounts of weight post-weigh in may be drugs related.I’m no expert though.  It just makes me a little uncomfortable.

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