Sergio Martinez: THE RING middleweight champion almost had a perfect night Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas. For 11-plus rounds, he outclassed an inferior opponent in Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who had no idea how to cope with the 37-year-old Argentine’s quick hands and wisp-like movement about the ring. Chavez had won no rounds on two cards and one on the third going into the final three minutes. The thrashing was sound. Then, in the 12th, when Martinez might’ve chosen to box his way to victory, he didn’t take his foot off the gas pedal … and paid a price. Chavez hurt him badly with a series of blows, which suddenly put his triumphal march in jeopardy. However, as if putting on a boxing clinic wasn’t enough, Martinez (50-2-2, 28 knockouts) also demonstrated a heart that would make any Mexican proud. He met Chavez’s attack head on, he survived and he won. No one would say it was a great victory given Chavez’s limitations, but it was impressive.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Let’s be clear about this: For almost the entire 12 rounds, Chavez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) was taken to school by an opponent whose skills and style were beyond his comprehension. He had never been face to face with anything like Martinez and it showed. Junior is a tough kid with solid boxing skills, no more. That said, we must acknowledge that he gave us an unforgettable final round and salvaged a good deal of his reputation in the process. Chavez proved that anything can happen when a fighter doesn’t give up. He hurt Martinez and did all he could to finish the job, giving him a realistic chance of pulling off a miracle victory akin to his father’s last-second triumph over Meldrick Taylor. The younger Chavez fell short but had made his point: He’s a strong, durable fighter with great determination even if he wasn’t in Martinez’s class.
Matinez-Chavez rematch: Talk of a rematch would’ve been absurd half-way through the 12th round, the fight being so one-sided. That changed the moment Martinez’s butt hit the canvas, though. The stunning finish demonstrated that Chavez could be a serious threat to Martinez under the right circumstances, which is enough to make a second go around marketable. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones obviously likes the idea; he called Chavez’s promoter Bob Arum after the fight and offered up Cowboys Stadium for Martinez-Chavez II. I don’t think it would be the biggest-possible fight in boxing, as Martinez’s promoter Lou DiBella suggested. That distinction still belongs to Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. But the 12th round and Chavez’s considerable backing among Mexican fans might lure 30,000-plus spectators to Arlington, Texas.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez: OK, Josesito Lopez’s body was too small for the stout Mexican even if his heart was big enough on Saturday night at the MGM Grand. No one was surprised that Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs) knocked Lopez (30-5, 18 KOs) down three times and took him out in five rounds. Alvarez did his job, though. He always does. The 22-year-old has dominated one opponent after another during an impressive run that has stamped him as a rising star. Now it’s time to see what he has against the big boys. Angulo? Kirkland? Cotto? Mayweather? Bring ’em on. The kid must be turned loose to know how good he really is. Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions, which handles Alvarez, said that time might be at hand. ”Other promoters believe in marinating. I don’t,” he told Yahoo! Sports. “You never know what’s going to happen in life. If there’s an opportunity to have a big fight, and it’s something that fans want to see, I think you have an obligation to your fighter to get him in there.”
Pacquiao-Marquez IV: I don’t have strong feelings about the announcement that Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) will fight Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs) a fourth time on Dec. 8. The first three fights were compelling; there’s no reason to think the fourth will be any less so. And Marquez deserves another chance to claim a victory after going 0-2-1 in three fights many believe he won. I was just hoping that Pacquiao would face Tim Bradley in a rematch. I thought Pacquiao was cheated out of a victory he earned in ring when they met in June. I thought another victory – with better judging and two healthy feet on Bradley – would set things right. In the end, though, money always talks. Pacquiao stands to make more fighting Marquez than he would fighting Bradley because of Marquez’s large fan base and more-recognizable name. At least we can expect a competitive fight, which is ultimately the objective.
Chavez Jr., about Martinez after their fight: “He’s a good fighter but nothing very special.” If Martinez isn’t very special, what does that say about Chavez?