The top two middleweights in the world will square off on September 15 in Las Vegas, as Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. takes on the champion of the division, Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez. Here are five questions to ask which will help determine the outcome of Chavez vs. Martinez.
Who's In Whose Head?
Besides being a fun question to type, this will have great bearing on the way that Chavez Jr. vs. Martinez plays out. Both men have been talking loads of trash, and each is supremely confident in his chances at victory. When they sat down together for "Face Off With Max Kellerman" on HBO, it seemed clear that Martinez had the mental edge. However, it's entirely possible that he's so fired up for this fight, and that he so badly wants to take it to Chavez, that he fights more haphazardly than usual, leaving himself open to incoming fire.
Can Martinez Take Chavez's Punches?
Martinez has been in there with some hard hitters, including Kelly Pavlik, against whom he captured his middleweight championship. So we know that he can take a good punch. But in Chavez Jr., he's facing a determined, strong bull of a kid, who will have a quite significant weight advantage, and not a past-peak champion.
Will Chavez Be Able To Find Martinez?
Martinez relies on his reflexes and athleticism to make opponents miss, typically fighting with his hands down while looking for countering opportunities. He's certainly not unhittable, however, Chavez Jr. isn't the quickest of fighters either. Expect Chavez to be looking for the body early and often, in hopes of tiring Martinez out, and landing some bombs upstairs as the fight continues. If he can't find Martinez, the question of whether or not Martinez can take his punches becomes moot.
Can Martinez Force Chavez to Respect Him?
Against most of his overmatched opponents, Chavez has been more than happy to wade in, take a shot, and then dish out his own superior punishment. Certainly, he'll be looking to get inside on Maravilla as well. The only way that Martinez will stop Chavez from coming forward is by earning his respect and showing JCC Jr. that he can hurt him. If Chavez feels he can't be hurt by Martinez, then Martinez could find himself in a precarious position.
Does Freddie Roach Have Any Tricks Up His Sleeve?
Roach remains known as one of the best trainers in the sport not only for his work with Manny Pacquiao, but for his ability to study up on his opponents, and develop a game plan which exposes their weaknesses. What is he cooking up for Chavez Jr., and is there anything that he's seen that could give his charge a crucial edge come fight night? Quite frankly, JCC Jr. will need a few tricks up his sleeve while facing the superior tactician and boxer in Martinez.
Chavez vs. Martinez Prediction
Chavez is no longer an overrated "name" -- he's a top fighter in his own right. However, Martinez is at a different level, and Chavez hasn't fought anybody in that stratosphere. It'll be bull vs. matador in there, but Maravilla won't just play keep away, he'll strike back. Look for Martinez to survive a tough challenge in a competitive fight, ultimately winning a clear 116-112 decision.
Sources: Boxrec.com, Yahoo! Sports, HBO
Jake Emen runs the boxing news website ProBoxing-Fans.com. You can find more of his writing, along with interviews, rankings and breaking news stories at the site, or you can follow ProBoxing-Fans.com on Twitter, @ProBoxingFans.