Martinez defeats Chavez Jr.
Ringside by Andreas Hale
Photos by Mary Ann Owen / BoxinginLasVegas.com
Twelve years and six months ago, Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. met Meldrick Taylor in an epic showdown titled "Thunder and Lightning" where Chavez' methodical body attack met Taylor's blinding speed. Taylor was in control for most of the fight up until the 12th round where all Taylor had to do was survive to win.
A spirited 12th round rally dropped Taylor with less than 20 seconds left in the fight. Taylor managed to stagger to his feet but referee Richard Steele was not convinced that Taylor could last the final two seconds and awarded Chavez the TKO victory. An epic battle with a phenomenal finish.
Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. was four years old.
Who knew that the ghosts of Meldrick Taylor and Chavez' father would haunt the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday, September 16 when the younger Chavez faced Argentinean sensation Sergio Martinez in a fight that eerily resembled 1990's "Thunder & Lightning." Fortunately for Martinez, he was able to exercise the ghost of Meldrick Taylor before it took over his soul in front of a sold-out crowd of 19,186 rabid fight fans .
After 11 rounds of a one-sided affair where Martinez' movement and hand speed helped him mount a huge lead on the scorecards, a furious rally by Chavez, Jr. in the 12th round nearly replicated his father's awe inspiring comeback. But in this version of the story, Martinez would survive being dropped in the final stanza and held on to win a unanimous decision to retain his The Ring middleweight title while taking back the WBC middleweight title he vacated over a year ago.
In a fight that would have seen Martinez as a 7-1 favorite if the bout had been made a year ago, the gap closed to Martinez being barely a 2-1 favorite. However, after the first few rounds, the 7-1 betting odds appeared to be spot on as "Maravilla" strafed the Mexican with jabs, hooks and combinations . Chavez appeared befuddled by Martinez' lateral movement that stopped on a dime and cut loose a stiff jab to the body, a left hook around the gloves or a snapping jab. Whatever it was, Chavez couldn't figure out how to stop it. He attempted to chase Martinez around the ring but ate heavy leather for his troubles. The Argentinean shocked Chavez when he shifted from the hunted to the hunter and stalked Chavez -- hands at his side -- and smacked punches to the head and torso while Chaves struggled to figure out when to throw a punch without eating several in return. By the seventh round, it appeared
Chavez would need to summon the spirit of his father to have a chance. Those calls were answered in the 12th.
With Martinez pitching a virtual shutout, Chavez turned up the pressure cooker and came after his opponent as a very large Mexican contingency roared to deafening levels with their approval. Martinez did an excellent job fending off the attack and coming back with one of his own before a menacing left hook from Chavez crushed Martinez and sent him spiraling downward to the canvas.
The Mexicans were delirious, a strong Argentinean base was in shock, Chavez hoped Martinez wouldn't get up and Martinez couldn't help but to get up. The smell of blood was in the water and the spirit of Meldrick Taylor had come to invade the body of Sergio Martinez. With the crowd in awe, Chavez battered the 37-year-old around the ring as the end appeared to be near. Rather than clinch, Martinez attempted to fight and was met with blistering combinations from Chavez. But somehow, someway, Martinez endured the punishment until the final bell sounded.
It was no surprise that Martinez would win with scores of 117-110, 118-109 and 118-109. But you have to wonder what would have happened if Chavez applied himself earlier in the fight. It's something that Chavez Jr. wondered aloud afterwards.
"I was 20 seconds away from knocking him out," Chavez -- who falls to 46-1-1, 32 KOs -- said at the post fight press conference. "I just started way too late. He was standing right in front of me and I was the one who made the mistake by not throwing punches. I thought I could do the whole fight what I did the last round."
Martinez' promoter Lou DiBella reflected on the final round and showed those in the press room that he visibly sweated through his clothes as Chavez, Jr. closed in on a dramatic knockout victory. "You saw a boxing clinic for 11 rounds and you saw an epic last round," DiBella said. "I don't know how he held on. That was f*cking epic. That what boxing is all about."
As for Martinez -- who improves to 50-2-2 with 28 knockouts -- what in the world was he thinking? According to Compubox, Martinez landed 322 of 908 punches for a 35% landing clip while Chavez only threw 390 punches and landed 178 for an impressive 46% landing rate. With such a huge lead on the scorecards and knowing that Chavez is a devastating puncher, why did he opt to stand and trade with his Mexican foe in close quarters?
"For 11 rounds I worked very hard but in the last round he hurt me," Martinez said behind some expensive shades with his world titles sprawled across the tables. Knowing that he was badly damaged, Martinez said he could only do what he knew. "I continued fighting like the warrior that I am."
With such an epic final round, one has to wonder what would happen if Chavez stepped on the gas earlier in the night. Calls of a rematch echoed through the press room and were met with a positive nod. Bob Arum stated that Jerry Jones called him immediately afterwards and wanted to bring the rematch to Cowboy Stadium next year. Of course, Team Chavez wants the rematch. But what about Martinez? As no lower than the #4 pound for pound fighter in the world, there are a number of opportunities. He could move down to 154 to face the likes of Miguel Cotto, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and maybe even lure Floyd Mayweather into a showdown. The opportunities at 160 are relatively thin. What does Martinez think?
"I'm going to rest and take a vacation but I'll fight anybody they put in front of me," Martinez said, welcoming bouts with Canelo and Mayweather. "If Julio wants a rematch and the public wants a rematch, we can do a rematch."
Whatever is in the future of both of the fighters, the reality is that both became bigger stars in the boxing world after Saturday's battle.
Martinez Defeats Beltran In All Action Showdown
Roman "Rocky" Martinez (26-1-1) took home the vacant WBO Super Featherweight title by beating Miguel Beltran, Jr. (27-2) via split decision in a hotly contested battle that could have gone either way. In a classic Mexico vs. Puerto Rico showdown, both Martinez and Beltran went to war for twelve rounds. Beltran got out of the gates first as he landed heavy power shots in the early goings of the fight. Martinez struggled to muster up much offense early and appeared to be on the wrong end of a decision if the fight continued at the pace. A huge right hand by Beltran staggered the Puerto Rican but perhaps also woke him up. Martinez would then make the necessary adjustments and dig himself out of an early hole to take the middle rounds. The boxing match turned into a boxing brawl as the two exchanged hard punches in rounds 6-8. Martinez was the busier fighter in round 9 while Beltran's heavier hands gave him round 10. However, a point deduction for pushing Martinez' head down hurt Beltran's chances as the Mexican allowed Martinez to brawl his way back into the fight, take the final two rounds as well as the title. Judges saw it 116-111 for Beltran while the other two judges both saw it 114-113 for Martinez.
Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0) started off slow but woke up after being buzzed in the third round and cruised to a one-sided unanimous decision against Roberto Marroquin (22-2) and retained the WBA Super Bantamweight championship.
A notoriously slow starter, Rigondeaux was smacked with a left hook by Marroquin that appeared to daze the Cuban. However, his sensational amateur pedigree came into play as he worked exclusively behind a snapping jab and gave Marroquin absolutely nothing to hit. A brilliant yet relatively unexciting boxing exhibition by Rigondeaux took place for the rest of the fight as Marroquin struggled to breach the Cuban's defense and found himself on the wrong end of the jab.
Rigondeaux finally stepped on the gas, albeit briefly, in the 12th and dropped Marroquin with a straight left hand to punctuate his dominance.
Judges saw it in Rigondeaux's favor 118-108 (twice) and 118-109.
Macklin Makes Short Work Of Alcine
Matthew Macklin put himself back into the middleweight title picture with an absolute annihilation of Joachim Alcine and scored a resounding 1st round TKO in a scheduled 10 round affair. Macklin (29-4) had little trouble getting to the Canadian's chin and detonated a right hand that dropped Alcine to the canvas in the first minute of the fight.
Although Alcine (33-3-1) would rise, his legs were spaghetti and Macklin drilled him with a savage barrage of punches that sent him to the canvas a second time. Alcine showed great heart getting to his feet again but Macklin was determined to not let this fight get out of the opening stanza and put together a vicious assault of punches until the fight was called to a halt at the 2:36 mark. There have been murmurs that Macklin could find himself in a rematch with Sergio Martinez or face Chavez with the victory. His performance on Saturday perhaps cemented the deal.
Lee Upends Harness
In perhaps a more difficult fight than expected, "The Pride of the Fighting Irish" Mike Lee (11-0) defeated Paul Harness (4-4) in a four round light heavyweight attraction. Harness came to fight and attempted to give Lee all he could handle. However, Lee's accurate punching and heavier hands were simply too much for Harness to handle and Lee cruised to the 40-36 sweep on the scorecards.
Nelson Scores Upset Over Jackson
In a minor upset, Willie Nelson upended John Jackson, son of heavy hitting Julian Jackson, and won the NABF Super Welterweight title with a ten round unanimous decision. Both fighters swung for the fences early and often but it was Nelson's accuracy that ended up being the difference maker. Jackson (13-1, 12 KOs) is known to be a heavy puncher but he could not rattle Nelson (19-1-1) who gave back just as much as he took. Jackson would bull his way forward and launch heavy hooks but Nelson eventually timed his foe and landed a left hook counter in the 8th that hurt Jackson. Although Jackson survived, it was Nelson who controlled the fight and earned the decision in a closely contest decision with scores of 96-94(twice) and 98-92.
Medina Sweeps Winchester
Super welterweight Michael Medina (26-3-2) had very little trouble with James Winchester (15-5) and pitched an 8 round shutout to earn the unanimous decision. Median walloped Winchester at the end of the 2nd round with a right uppercut that collapsed Winchester to the canvas. Fortunately, the round was over but Medina kept up the punishment throughout the duration of the fight with Winchester offering very little in return. Another knockdown at the end of the eighth round punctuated a dominant performance with all three judges scoring the fight 80-70.
"Lucky Boy" Needs No Luck In Unanimous Decision
Wale "Lucky Boy" Omotoso remained unbeaten with a strong performance that resulted in a one-sided unanimous decision victory over Daniel Sostre in welterweight action. The hard hitting Omotoso (23-0, 19 KOs) applied heavy leather to the durable Sostre (11-7-1) but was unable to score the TKO. Nevertheless, the victory was a decisive one as judges saw it in Omotoso's favor 80-72, 79-73 and 79-73.