Saturday’s Explosion at Thomas & Mack
Photos by Chris Farina
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In a war of words, Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr
. have become bitter rivals through their verbal jabs, taunts and threats heard at press conferences and seen on HBO’s “Face Off” and “24/7.”
On Saturday, September 15, the two will finally settle the score. This is one showdown that has everyone abuzz. And I gotta say this weekend offers a bona fide buffet for boxing aficionados! Chavez Jr. vs. Martinez will collide at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas at the same time that Canelo Alvarez will face upstart underdog Josesito Lopez at the MGM Grand.
The true winners of these fights just may be the fans.
The Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32 KOs)-Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs) match is a sell out (over 19,000 tickets sold) with closed circuit viewing and HBO PPV available as the hype and interest comes to a boil. This bout, promoted by Top Rank, Zanfer Promotions and DiBella Entertainment, has had a ton of pre-fight hype and trash talking involved between the two prizefighters. This box-office draw has broken records for the venue’s gate attendance in Sin City.
If you’ve watched “Face Off” with Max Kellerman, “2 Days: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.” or “24/7,” it’s 101% clear that there is no love lost between the gladiators. It has become a bitter feud between the pair. Julio has called Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez a “ballerina” while the Argentinean’s camp taunts Chavez Jr. by saying he’s a “chicken” who will get his head pulled off come Saturday night. Both threaten to bring the pain; to bring it on in their war this weekend. Even Hall of Famer Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. has gotten involved at the pressers, with his slams against Sergio Martinez.
But a majority of pundits say Martinez will win, victorious by way of knockout against the “Son of a Legend.” The men will fight for Chavez Jr.’s WBC Middleweight belt.
On last night’s special edition of ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights with Jessie Vargas vs. Aron Martinez at the Hard Rock in Vegas,” famed trainer/commentator Teddy Atlas gave viewers his own opinion. Stating Chavez Jr. is “not as fast, easy to hit, goes straight down the middle in a body-punching style,” Atlas thinks Sergio (who faced better opposition) will “pick him apart” and score the KO by knocking Chavez Jr. out in late rounds.
Sergio was an early favorite once the fight was announced; back then a 2-1 fave to win. Latest odds have the underdog Chavez ranging from +165 to +170 and Martinez -195 to -210.
Will this fight go the distance?
The unbeaten Chavez Jr. has Freddie Roach and Alex Ariza in his corner–and his Pop’s DNA in his pocket. After defeats of John Duddy, Billy Lyell, Sebastian Zbik, Peter Manfredo Jr. and Marco Antonio Rubio, even his harshest critics began to look at the 26-year-old with a newfound respect. I think his TKO of Andy Lee this past June further changed the minds of naysayers who spewed that Julio was a spoiled child, undisciplined and coddled. While he never fought amateur, it seems like he is finally coming into his own. This could be his time to shine; his time to make the statement he belongs in the elite ranks of the best.
His nemesis, the southpaw Martinez, got a late start in boxing, after excelling in various other sports. First trained by Gabriel Sarmiento and currently by Pablo Sarmiento, he gained fame by beating Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams. I think “Maravilla” is one of the most exciting boxers to watch with his awkward style, one-punch knockout power and of course, his matinee idol looks.
Leading up to their September 15 battle, Sergio and Julio’s face offs bristle with tension, animosity and dislike for each other. How this transcends into the boxing ring is what has us all salivating.
They have been antagonistic and acrimonious toward each other.
Martinez says he will punish the kid, who has been seen on HBO in having unconventional training. “Maravilla” is promising a knockout victory, relishing in the punishment to come, he says.
After the clash, will Sergio wear the crown as the pound-for-pound middleweight kingpin?
Or will Junior finally silence his critics with an upset win over Martinez?
Chavez Jr. has a larger build and should come in even bigger on Saturday night. Promoted by Bob Arum and Top Rank, the Mexican warrior will have plenty of fans packing the sold-out arena on the grounds of UNLV. This fight could change everything for Junior, should he be victorious.
If he is ever going to make the biggest move in his career to date, he’s got to win this bout. And I think the time is right that he could possibly pull off a victory over his arch rival. He is in his prime, has gained more experience and has had his chin tested. Now he will have his heart and will challenged as the slugger Martinez will not hold back. But at age 37, some say Sergio’s best days in the ring may be waning.
In March, he fought Matthew Macklin (fighting Joachim Alcine on the Chavez Jr.-Martinez undercard) with Sergio going down in round seven. But the Argentinean hard hitter battered the Brit with a stoppage in the 11th round. Will his advancing age be an issue in this fight? They say fighters get old in the ring; will the cracks begin to show against a man 11 years his junior?
The final countdown begins for the opening bell between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. versus Sergio Martinez. That moment when we watch the corners exit the canvas. Those tense, thrilling, hold-your-breath seconds when it’s finally just the two fighters alone in the sparse ring with just the third man between them. Referee Tony Weeks is said to be the official for the action.
I love that moment right before the bell ring as time seems to stand still as the boxers face each other from their corners. Sparring is over; road work done, weigh-in complete. No more time for hype and trash talking. Press conferences, media workouts and fan gatherings over. Just two guys going head to head, trading leather. The only thing left is what we’ve all been waiting for: three minute rounds to decide whose talk was real, whose skills are legit, whose future will further command the multi-million dollar paydays?
Just two fighters alone in the ring.
Will this fight live up to expectations? Could the critics be proven wrong? Who will draw first blood?
And after all the jawing is said and done, one punch can change it all. Expect the unexpected in boxing.
THIS IS WHY WE LOVE BOXING! I CAN’T WAIT.
Who will be the KO King? Come Saturday night, we will soon know who the better man is.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez: MAY THE BEST MAN WIN!
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