Photos by Chris Farina
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There were two noteworthy fight cards boxing fans had to choose from this weekend in Las Vegas, NV for September 15, 2012. The predominant conversation, or should I say complaint, amongst boxing fans in Las Vegas and amongst a group of avid boxing fans I was with went something like this…
“Man, I wish there was a way for us to catch both cards tonight. I want to see both. Why should we have to choose?”
Unfortunately, we did have to choose. Half of us went to see Chavez Jr. vs Martinez at Thomas and Mack while the other half attended the Canelo vs Lopez card at the MGM. Luckily, I had my wife DVR the fight.
The point is should I have had to watch the other fight card on DVR when I and around 30,000 other people who bought tickets between the two cards made arrangements to be in Vegas this past weekend. It was predominantly a Mexican American and Mexican National crowd at each card and, needless to say, the fans who are quite vested in boxing and adequately versed in the sport; subsequently, deserving to see both after spending the coin to be there for Mexican Independence Day weekend.
I will say this though; I am happy I chose to attend the Chavez Jr. vs Martinez card at Thomas and Mack. Both my buddy and I, and approximately 20,000 other fans saw something remarkable. The atmosphere was magnetic and a buzz all around; there was tailgating similar to a big football game outside the arena, and most important of all… a common interest. Everyone there chose that card and wanted to be there. They were not comped by a casino to attend the event, they did not go because they were killing time; they were there to see if a young and up and coming fighter (and son of a legend) Chavez Jr. was for real or hype. There was also the question of Martinez being too old to handle a strong young fighter.
Well, questions were answered and although there is always a winner and a loser, I believe this fight remarkably had two winners. Chavez Jr. is not just hype. Although he went in against arguably one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world, Sergio Martinez, and lost almost every round, he did gradual damage with size and body shots to Martinez throughout the fight. In the end, Martinez was the one tired (completely opposite of what I thought would happen) and he tasted the canvas, not once, but twice in the final round. I am guessing that Martinez is very grateful there is not a 13th round in boxing, because if there had been, he very well might have been knocked out or hurt and would not have a piece of the middleweight championship today.
I do wonder though how long Chavez can stay at 160 lbs. He was noticeably bigger and his back looked a landing strip. It was hard to even see Martinez behind Chavez’ frame when he was in front of him in the ring. However, despite the size, Martinez dominated the fight with great boxing skills and flurries despite a late but very powerful rally in the end by Chavez Jr. almost knocking out Martinez.
Bottom line, this fight did something for both fighters. It proved Chavez is his own man and not just the son of a legend. He is for real and although HBO 24/7 may have portrayed him as a spoiled kid not wanting to train, he does have some substance and despite his size, he made weight and made an interesting fight in the end. For Martinez, he has gained more popularity and fans through this fight. He was gritty and had a good showing with great boxing through 11 rounds until his legs gave a bit in the 12th until the final bell. What interest a rematch would bring? The 12th round decibel level at this one was defining with nearly 20,000 people standing up and cheering, not to mention the same amount of people singing the Mexican National Anthem before the fight. It was clearly something to see and hear.
Just imagine how many people you could get if both these cards had been combined, maybe fill Dallas Cowboys Stadium? Should we have to choose? I am guessing we will again, but I am glad I witnessed the card I did in person. There was something surreal about it and I got to watch the Canelo vs. Lopez card later anyways, but sure would have been sweet to see both while in Las Vegas this time. If Chavez Jr. v Martinez II does take place, I see Chavez getting off a little earlier and him scoring a knockout.
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