The Art of Punching Back

By Gordon Marino on September 16, 2012
The Art of Punching Back
Chavez Sr. seemed embarrassed by his son’s lack of aggression. (Chris Farina/Top Rank)


Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. lost every round but one on my card last night, but he left the ring grinning as though he had scored an upset victory over Sergio Martinez. For 11 rounds, Martinez lanced, peppered, and banged the listless Chavez.

Martinez puzzled many by moving to his left and into Chavez’s right hand, but that kept the Argentine away from Chavez’s best weapon, his left hook. It also allowed Martinez to secure the inside angle that would allow him to land his right jab to the head-left to the body combination.

During the fight you could see Chavez’s dark eyed father fuming for his son to get busy and go on the attack. He seemed embarrassed by his son’s lack of aggression. In round ten, Freddie Roach informed Chavez that it was a knockout or defeat. Chavez took another round off, and then alas let the bombs fly in the scintillating last stanza.

It was in this round that Chavez landed a right hand and two left hooks that almost upended the bout. Great credit was given to Chavez for finally showing some gumption.  The old man was relieved and the son left the arena that night with his red badge of courage, seeming as happy as someone who had just scored an upset victory. He hadn’t—not by any means, but Chavez did save the dignity and honor that was getting badly nicked as Martinez moved and pummeled him seemingly at will. And let’s give credit where credit is due. Throwing the switch and letting it all go when the guy standing in front of you has been handing you your head for more than half an hour is harder than most people appreciate. Chavez did it. But credit should also be given to Martinez for not sitting on his lead and continuing to take chances even though he was miles ahead. Martinez has earned the moniker “Maravilla”. He is a marvel of speed, stamina, and concentration.

There is, however, a boxing lesson to be gleaned from the boxing last night. Don’t go from defense to offense. Punch when the other guy is punching! It is the only way to neutralize speed. When Chavez did not wait for Martinez to end a flurry but banged at the same time, he hurt him. The same lesson was revealed in a fight on the undercard. Guillermo Rigondeaux won a lopsided decision over hard punching Robert Marroquin.  Freddie Roach recently gushed that Rigondeaux is the greatest defensive fighter he has every seen. Rigondeaux’s balance, quickness, and ring savvy are breathtaking. There were moments in his last bout when the thought bubbled behind my eyes—best I have ever seen. In championship fights, Rigondeaux often looks as though he were just getting some exercise with an amateur. He will even slowly rehearse the combination that he is about to mail to his opponent. And yet, on a couple of occasions, Marroquin let his hands go when Rigondeaux was attacking and he hurt the super-elite Cuban fighter.  The same lesson could, I think, be learned from Roy Jones Jr.’s downfall. He had hypersonic speed, power, and a highly unorthodox style, but if you had a punch, and punched with him, Roy wasn’t quite superman anymore.

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Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez Round 12 (15.09.12)



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  1. the thresher 09:41am, 09/18/2012

    Roy’s downfall was his swift weight loss after the Ruiz fight. It ruined his reflexes forever.

  2. Gordon Marino 08:26am, 09/18/2012

    Don from Prov—yes indeed, if you punched with Roy, like Tarver and Johnson, you could get to him. Punching with is the best way to deal with speed. Thanks

  3. Don from Prov 08:15am, 09/18/2012

    “The same lesson could, I think, be learned from Roy Jones Jr.’s downfall. He had hypersonic speed, power, and a highly unorthodox style, but if you had a punch, and punched with him, Roy wasn’t quite superman anymore.”——

    Very good example!

  4. Gordon Marino 07:31pm, 09/17/2012

    raxman: good points. Chavez has never been one too move his head and I think Martinez’s shots had enough on them that that was also a factor. But Martinez head was right in front of his right all the time. Don’t you think Jr was fretting about how much was in the tank. I mean he would barely throw a shot for the first min of each rd. 
    I agree that Sergio footwork is like Pacman or at least like Pacman’s used to be but Manny uses that right hook a lot more than Sergio.
    Thanks and all the best.

  5. the thresher 05:31pm, 09/17/2012

    He used his right on Duddy and then took out Manfredo with it.

  6. raxman 05:08pm, 09/17/2012

    gordon - i also wondered about chavez jnrs right hand so i went back thru some random rounds of random fights, and although its certainly not a weapon, he has used the straight right in fights before; in the lee fight for one. he’s all about the inside stuff hook and rips and when he does throw the right its mainly a cross or an overhand/right hook hybrid.
    that said why didnt roach make it a part of this camp, make it a weapon. you’re right about SM’s feints and 1-2 - but that is exactly what jnr should’ve been doing - feints!! and when martinez drove in with his jab or double jab, chavez should’ve been leaning his body to his left, his head off the attack line, with his left guard up and throwing with him, drilling the straight right down the middle and then the left hook. or as you saying counter lefthooks - but using it to take on the southpaw jab.
    i see martinez’s in and out as not disimilar to pacman’s style (although Maravilla has a superior jab) so it makes sense that chavez use similar tactics to the ones JMM has used - feints, back ward half steps, and prescient counter punching.
    although martinez (as limited as i believe him to be) is just better than chavez i still believe this fight played out in the manner it did due to training camp oversights. the blame for mine falls on roach.
    i’ve always thought freddies greatest attribute was his matchmaking - his matching pac with weight drained walk up fighers created a legend both he and pac capitalised on - had he not had an exceptionally talent fighter in pacquiao he probably would’ve been undone a lot sooner. as proved first with Khan and now Chavez - you can’t protect them forever; eventually you have to put them in a 50-50 fight

  7. procopy 04:42pm, 09/17/2012

    I guess we’re all compelled to watch the rematch because of the “what if” scenario left behind by the 12th. what if chavez pushed the fight earlier. he showed people that he can hurt Martinez, besides, common logic would say the he should be exhausted already but still he was able to pull that knockdown out of nowhere. When the camera focused on Freddie telling him that he needs a knockout, I felt something unexpected was going to happen. During the fight, I noticed that Jr is really waiting for that big shot but he was overwhelmed by the punches of Martinez. He’s just waiting and the opportunity came on the 12th. though it’s too late for him, that gave people an impression that Maravilla “almost lost it” despite the fact he’s been winning for 11 rds.

  8. Gordon Marino 07:25am, 09/17/2012

    Joe- I agree despite the drubbing the Jr. took, the 12th rd will certainly fill seats in a rematch. However, I read today that sergio tore ligaments in his knee and needs surgery. Sure hope it is nothing serious. The knee is all important in boxing - if you can’t turn u really can’t punch. Thanks and best

  9. Joe 07:18am, 09/17/2012

    The boxing lesson I predicted took place BUT that 12th round of the Son of Legend will keep the fans filling seats.  I know many boxing fanatics knew this was going to take place and the only chance Jr. had was just what happened in the 12th.  Too bad he didn’t step it up in round 6 or 7 - it may have been a better show.  Rematch anyone?

  10. Gordon Marino 05:48am, 09/17/2012

    procopy- sorry missed your other comment. I’m not a big Chavez fan but I agree - he could have done a lot more. In a rematch he would take more risks but then again he would be open even more. Remember what Martinez did to Williams when Williams attacked with some passion. Thanks.

  11. Gordon Marino 05:44am, 09/17/2012

    procopy: Oh Sergio definitely thought he had it in the bag. His corner was telling him from rd 6 he’s finished.

  12. Gordon Marino 05:43am, 09/17/2012

    Hey Irish Frankie- I agree a lot of Mexican fighters do loop the right but that could be because a lot of them bank on the left hook - which usually involves squaring up a lot more—and hence no more torque on the right. Thanks!

  13. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat saijo 05:18am, 09/17/2012

    Gordon Marino-In my view there is a Mexican style of fighting aside from the obvious “machismo factor” and paralyzing liver shots…..you mentioned Junior’s lack of a really good straight right….from my observation many Mexican fighters loop that right instead of shooting it from the shoulder….to the extent that it appears to me at least, that it’s been taught that way!

  14. procopy 12:15am, 09/17/2012

    Jack - knockdowns always come by surprise..
    maybe Sergio got overconfident on the last round because he believes he already got the win on the bag after blasting Jr for 11 rounds.

  15. procopy 11:58pm, 09/16/2012

    Gordon Marino - yeah, Martinez did really well on that fight. I was just saying that maybe Jr. couldve done better. I was expecting that he would do something against Martinez speed and reach advantage and I think he shouldve took couple of risks to make those 11 rounds more competitive. I believe he could do it, maybe he was just too cautious of Martinez’s awkward style and speed. Most of the people expected Martinez to win I being one of them. Maravilla is technically the better man on that fight, it also seems to me that he has more gas than the younger Jr., but I think Jr. could do better next time if he just learn from the boxing lesson given to him by Maravilla. and b4 i forget, another addition to Roach’s boys losses this year.

  16. Jack 10:12pm, 09/16/2012

    It kills me that Martinez let Jr. knock him down in the 12th after thoroughly destroying him for 111/2 rounds.  Now we still have to deal with the fantasy that is Chavez, Jr.  Were the announcers kidding when they said “now Chavez knows he can hurt Martinez…”, as if that alone warranted a rematch and rendered the outcome of a rematch in doubt?  Of course Chavez could hurt Martinez.  He outweighs him by 20 lbs!  That’s the only reason he’s been able to do anything against even the mediocre opponents he had faced up until Martinez.  He’s a light heavyweight playing around with smaller fighters.  He then has the audacity to beat his chest and mock someone half his size because their punches have little effect on him He should end this farce and fight at his real weight.  Of course, then he’d get beaten by even average competition.  Why oh why did you have to get so careless at the end, Sergio??? 

  17. Your Name 08:41pm, 09/16/2012

    That was a thrilling final round, but I would not pay to see these two fight again. Chavez needs to move up to 168. He was listless for most of the fight because of the weight drain making 160. Pavlik and Froch would be good opponents for him, but Ward would absolutely destroy him.

  18. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 08:30pm, 09/16/2012

    Gordon Marino-Roach’s advice to Khan’s team…“keep him away from punchers”....which reminds me…I think Garcia was proving your point when he starched Khan.

  19. Gordon Marino 06:57pm, 09/16/2012

    procopy- hey but don’t you think we have to give Martinez credit for freezing Chavez with feints jabs and straight lefts. Also, he used great lateral movement. Amazing stamina. Thanks.

  20. Gordon Marino 06:29pm, 09/16/2012

    raxman; Chavez may have been drained but Martinez did a good job of freezing him with feints and 1-2 down the middle. I think Martinez was too fast for him. As you note Chavez did not even try to drop the counter hook over M.‘s right.  Also, I don’t think Chavez has a great straight right, he has always relied on hooks, no? But he connected with a right in 12 and Martinez was resting his head right in front of the right most of the night.
    Thanks for the comment.

  21. raxman 05:22pm, 09/16/2012

    it was obvious he needed to throw with martinez from the first round. but i can’t help but think chavez must’ve been weight drained and it must’ve affected his thinking. how do you not throw straight right hands as a lead against a southpaw? the lead right-left hook is vs southpaw is boxing 101. especially given martinez moving into the right hand all night.
    i think gordon you nailed it when you write of chavez’s grin post fight, and i think it epitomises the criticism that fans have had for him - he was happy with the knock down and loss. where as he should’ve been less relieved for finally showing something and more furious with him self for not doing it earlier

  22. procopy 05:04pm, 09/16/2012

    Junior should’ve started doing it earlier. It’s quite confusing why he’s not attacking that much. He was the bigger man and its clear that he could take maravillas punches. He couldve used his youth, size and strong chin to gamble against martinez’ speed and reach.

  23. Gordon Marino 01:09pm, 09/16/2012

    Yes. I heard him but it took a round for jr to do it. Sr looked like he was going to go bonkers. Martinez did a great job making Chavez turn but in the 12th he was standing right in front of that right hand. Even though it was a blowout I wouldn’t mind seeing a rematch.

  24. THE THRESHER 12:43pm, 09/16/2012

    Actually, Roach gave him great advice in the 11th and 12th rounds when he said punch with him. It worked despite the other morons in Junior’s corner who were making it very difficult for Roach. Senior also needs to stfu or fire Freddie.

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