Mexican Fighters Fighting for Acceptance

By Christian Giudice on September 14, 2012
Mexican Fighters Fighting for Acceptance
That's the beauty of this sport. Stubbornness has forced the boxing world to choose sides.

There are too many questions about Chavez Jr. for him not to come up with clear cut answers this time around…

As they prepare to enter the ring this Saturday on Mexican Independence Day, both Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Canelo Alvarez will still be fighting for acceptance, just of a different kind. In order for Chavez Jr. to prove his past transgressions and public indifference to the sport were results of immaturity, he must beat a great fighter. In order for that to occur, conditioning can’t be an issue. It’s one thing to lose to a great fighter, another to beat yourself. There are too many questions about Chavez Jr. for him not to come up with clear cut answers this time around. Style-wise, he needs to impose his will on Martinez, early. Martinez has faced much better opposition, but he never faced a fighter who combines this level of intensity and power. At 26, Chavez cutting off the ring will put Martinez in a much more dangerous predicament than either Kelly Pavlik or Paul Williams ever did. More importantly, the kid has one of the best chins in the sport. Some of the power punches that hurt Williams won’t faze Chavez Jr.

Each time Martinez begins to posture and pose as he did often against Matthew Macklin, that’s Chavez’s clue to act accordingly. Chavez Jr. has to get inside and bang away to the body, which is easier said than done, of course. If he can sustain a jab, it would be an easier task. By not giving Martinez a second to breathe, the Mexican can immediately take him out of his comfort zone. But the only way he can accomplish this goal is by being in shape to move for 12 rounds. Move, as in, move effectively, not follow Martinez. Move as Roberto Duran did against Carlos Palomino, when he had Palomino feinting hesitantly on the outside, and then proceed to ravage him with short, compact hooks on the inside. When Chavez Jr. starts breathing heavily, he has no recourse but to follow his opponent. If he follows a slick boxer like Martinez, he will run into jabs and hooks. Thus, a fabulous chess match quickly transforms to a one-sided boxing lesson.

Conversely, while Chavez Jr. faces a great fighter, Alvarez has a slightly easier path to glory as he faces a hot fighter in Josesito Lopez, boxing’s version of former Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. It’s difficult to ignore the weight disparity, as Alvarez will be so much bigger and stronger. Lopez will try to rekindle the fire he ignited during his Fight of the Year performance against Victor Ortiz. Yet, how will he respond when Alvarez traps him in the corner or punishes him with hooks to the body. What can he do to a guy who has never been hurt by bigger punchers? Some question the motives of even making this mismatch. Against Ortiz, Lopez needed a courageous performance; against Alvarez, he might need a miracle. “Shame on Oscar for even making his fight. He’s a boxing guy, and should know better than this,” said featherweight great, Ruben Castillo. Legendary promoter Don Chargin added, “I see Lopez looking good for a couple rounds because he’s such a gutsy kid, but then the size and punching power should take over.”

Rarely do we see a fighter gain such momentum from one bout, especially since Ortiz was coming off a particularly embarrassing debacle against Floyd Mayweather. The fight reminds me of when an inexperienced Roberto Elizondo, then a hot, young prospect faced Alexis Arguello at lightweight. I am not comparing Alvarez to Arguello, but the matchup itself has clear parallels. Elizondo, similar to Lopez, was trying to make a name for himself; Alvarez, like Arguello, was focused on bigger paydays. Needless to say, Elizondo petered out as soon as Arguello decided to open up his arsenal in the fifth round. If Alvarez uses more head movement than he has in the past, doesn’t get hit as much, and sustains that same pressure that defines his style, I imagine it will be over in quick fashion.

But that’s the beauty of this sport. Stubbornness has forced the boxing world to choose sides. If you had the choice, would you choose to watch Chavez vs. Martinez, a fight that everybody believes can be great, or Alvarez vs. Lopez, which falls into the category of a great talent still developing against a good fighter moving up in weight? You make the call.

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  1. Bodyshots 08:42pm, 09/14/2012

    i’ll watch Jr. v. Martinez live and record Canelo v. Lopez for later. even though i really do want to watch the Gonzalez v. De Leon bout. two respected veterans who’ve been snakebit in their biggest bouts. in this case, the mutual jinx should cancel each other out and result in one firme sleeper of a legendary bout. i’m going with Jhonny even while not counting out the explosive Ponce. Jr. by KO, any round, after employing heavy and unrelenting pressure, which compels Martinez to wild and fold. if we’re lucky, we’ll have another Cotto v. Margarito on our hands and wouldn’t that be a treat? unfortunately, they may both have to absorb career-ending punishment but that’s what we pay for.

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