LAS VEGAS — WBC titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was 158 pounds at Friday’s weigh-in at The Encore Theater, the lightest he has ever been in seven previous middleweight bouts, compared to 159 for RING champion Sergio Martinez, his opponent for Saturday night’s HBO Pay Per View-televised fight at the Thomas and Mack Center.
Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32 knockouts) and Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs) were at 176-, and 174-pounds, respectively, for the WBC’s mandatory 30-day safety weigh-in last month. Chavez, 26, will earn $3 million compare to 1.4 million for Martinez.
Chavez is coming off a seventh-round stoppage victory over southpaw challenger Andy Lee (28-1, 20 KOs) in June. Martinez, 37, was last in the ring for an 11th-round knockout victory over Matthew Macklin.
On the Chavez Jr.-Martinez undercard, WBA junior featherweight beltholder and two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux (10-0, 8 KOs) and rival Roberto Marroquin (22-1, 15 KOs) each came in at the division limit of 122 pounds.
For a third bout, two-time middleweight title challenger Macklin (28-4, 19 KOs) and Haitian-born rival Joachim Alcine (33-2-1, 19 KOs) were at 160.5, and, 158, respectively.
For a fourth match up, Puerto Rican junior lightweight Roman “Rocky” Martinez (25-1-1, 16 KOs) was at 129 pounds compared to 130 for Mexican rival Miguel Beltran Jr. (27-1, 17 KOs) in a clash that is for the WBO’s vacant belt.
Beltran was initially at 131 pounds. He was given an hour to make the division limit by losing a pound, returned, “stripped completely naked and made 130 on the dot,” and made the weight, according to Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director, Keith Kizer.
Notre Dame graduate Mike Lee (10-0, 6 KOs), of Chicaco, was at 174 pounds — one below the limit for his light heavyweight fight with Paul Harness (4-3-1, 3 KOs), who was 173 and a quarter.
PROMOTER, ADVISOR NEARLY BRAWL
The post-weigh-in staredown between Chavez Jr. and Martinez was a continuation of what has been a tension-filled promotion.
The action began shortly after Martinez incited a small cluster of Argentinian fans to the right of the stage by running his right hand beneath his chin from one side to the other — the throat-cutting gesture — as an indication of what he intended to do to Chavez Jr.
Martinez then began to wave his country’s flag. But Beltran came over and tried to block it with the Mexican flag, Lewkowicz approached him, contact was made, and he and Beltran went after each other.
Calm was restored, but Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, found it to be entertaining and, obviously, good for business.
“They’re both going to be fined,” said Arum. “They’re going to be fined $10,000.”
Arum, of course, was joking.
MAX KELLERMAN RANKS ‘INTENSE’ FACEOFF BETWEEN CHAVEZ JR., MARTINEZ
The most recent edition of edition of HBO’s Face Off With Max Kellerman: Chavez Jr.-Martinez ranked among the top four ever, in terms of intensity, according to the interviewer, Kellerman.
In it, Martinez, 37, calls Chavez Jr. “a chicken,” and the 26-year-old Chavez tells the older man that he will knock him out.
Kellerman ranks the Chavez Jr.-Martinez behind the ones between Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye, and that between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito — tied with that featuring Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal.
“The most intense one that I’ve done was Klitschko and Haye, and then, Cotto and Margarito. This one with Chavez and Martinez was more like Hopkins and Pascal,” said Kellerman.
“So I would say that this one is tied with Hopkins and Pascal. They weren’t messing around, but we will find out how much of this is real or imagination once the bell rings.”
MACKLIN EYES KNOCKOUT
Macklin is coming off two straight losses to then-WBA beltholder Felix Sturm by disputed split-decision in June of last year, and to Martinez.
In the the 36-year-old Alcine, Macklin is facing a man vanquished highly-touted prospect David Lemieux by majority decision in December of last year.
Priot to facing Lemieux, Alcine had battled to a draw with Jose Medina in August of last year after having been knocked out in the first round by Alfredo Angulo in July of 2010.
“I would love to knock him out. I think that I’m an exciting fighter who is fairly aggressive fighter, maybe not so much against Martinez, because it was a different fight. But in the Sturm fight, you saw a lot of body shots and a lot of offense,” said Macklin.
“This, I think, will be a combination of the two, because Alcine can be hurt, but he’s pretty slick and he’s got a decent defense, as he showed against Lemieux. So I don’t want to underestimate him, because that’s when things can happen, and I’m in a good place right now.”
Macklin claims that bruised knuckles on his left hand, as well as rib damage hindered his preparation for Martinez.
“If Martinez wins, I would love another crack at him. If Chavez wins, I would love that fight. I think that Chavez and I would be a good fight,” said Macklin. “I think that I would beat him up. So Chavez, that’s the fight that I want the most, because, stylistcally, it suits me. ,
MACKLIN WON’T BE SURPRISED IF AUSTIN TROUT BEATS MIGUEL COTTO
On a different note, Macklin shared his thoughts on the junior middleweight bout between southpaw “regular” WBA titleholder Austin Trout (25-0, 14 KOs) and three-division title-winner Cotto (37-3, 30 KOs) that is slated for Dec. 1 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Cotto will meet Trout at The Garden, where the Puerto Rican fighter is 7-0 with four knockouts. Cotto, who turns 32 in October, is 9-0 overall with five stoppage wins in New York.
Cotto is coming off a unanimous-decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr., who added Cotto’s WBA junior middleweight to his WBC welterweight title, in May.
A southpaw who lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico, who is nicknamed “No Doubt,” Trout has served as a sparring partner for Martinez during his preparation for left-handed fighters such as Sergei Dzinziruk and Paul Williams.
Martinez stopped Williams in the second-round of their clash of southpaws in November of 2010, and dropped the previously unbeaten Dzinziruk five time on the way to an eighth-round stoppage in March of last year.
Trout was also a sparring partner for Macklin, who gave Martinez trouble prior to being stopped in March.
“Overall, what Cotto’s done in his career, you know that he’s an exceptional fighter and he’s beaten some great fighters. But the thing with Trout is that he’s very quick and evasive, and he doesn’t stand there and get involved. He wants to hit you with one or two shots and move,” said Macklin.
“Austin was great preparation for Martinez. It was awkward sparring, but he got me mentally prepared and ready for what to expect from Martinez. Austin’s a great guy, and I wish him all of the best. If it Cotto in his prime, then I would say Cotto. But the timing of the fight might suit Trout. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was an upset. Austin’s fresh and Cotto’s not fresh.”
ANYONE FOR CHAVEZ JR.-KELLY PAVLIK?
Arum and the Top Rank brass have indicated that a match up between Chavez Jr. and former undisputed middleweight titleholder Kelly Pavlik could be a highly-anticipated clash at 168-pounds.
Like Chavez, Pavlik is promoted by Top Rank.
“We’re game, but I need to get Kelly back in action and active,” said Pavlik’s manager, Cameron Dunkin. “But Chavez has to get through Saturday night.”
ORLANDO SALIDO-MIKEY GARCIA, ERISLANDY LARA-VANES MARTIROSYAN EYED FOR NOV. 10
Arum said Top Rank has its sights on scheduling an HBO-televised double-header for Las Vegas on Nov. 10 featuring Mexican featherweight titleholder Orlando Salido (39-11-2, 27 KOs) against challenger Miguel “Mikey” Garcia (29-0, 25 KOs), and a WBC eliminator bout between Vanes Martirosyan (32-0, 20 KOs) and southpaw former amateur world champion Erislandy Lara (17-1-1, 11 KOs).
The winner between Martirosyan and Lara, who is handled by Golden Boy, would become the mandatory challenger to face beltholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs), who will defend his belt against Josesito Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs) on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com