It had been almost two years since boxing politics conspired to remove the WBC world middleweight title from its rightful champion, Sergio Martinez, and place it around the waist of the much more profitable, promotable Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Along the way, Martinez walked a rough road, trying to corner the new champ and the cadre of characters running interference for him into a shot at reclaiming the belt.
Most fighters would've given in to the dark side of the boxing business and simply set about looking for a shot at one of the three remaining world titles. But this was the belt that belonged to him. It was the belt that he earned by beating the man who beat the man. It was the belt that fellow Argentine, Carlos Monzon had held. And, by all that is right and logical in this nasty business, it was his.
Martinez practically stalked Chavez Jr. and WBC President for Life, Jose Sulaiman, insisting that the fight be made and forcing them into oral and written agreements that he had every intention of enforcing.
Chavez Jr's promoter, Bob Arum, eventually gave in and made the bout that fans had been craving for the better part of eighteen months. Meanwhile, Chavez Jr. had torn through Peter Manfredo, Marco Antonio Rubio, and Andy Lee as WBC middleweight titlist and seemed to be growing into his role as an elite middleweight.
However, while Chavez Jr. was becoming a legitimate world class 160 lb. fighter, Martinez was still the reigning champ in the eyes of most and the consensus top middleweight in the world.
On Saturday night, at the sold out Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, we saw the difference between a fighter who is the very best and one who is just starting to emerge. The 37-year-old Martinez outclassed the 26-year-old Chavez Jr. over eleven and one-half rounds and then had to survive a knockdown and late round surge from the younger, bigger fighter to keep his dominant performance from being completely wiped out.
Martinez did survive and go on to take the one-sided decision while Chavez Jr. pulled out a measure of redemption with his strong closing. Chavez Jr. proved himself to be a real, main stage middleweight-- He just wasn't the real champ.
With the Martinez win, reality and sanity were restored to one of boxing's glamor divisions. Although these warm, fuzzy moments are generally short-lived in the world of big-time prizefighting, at the very least, the real king is finally back on the throne.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The BoxingTribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
Andreas Hale, Martinez survives Chavez Jr., Fightnews
- Sports & Recreation
- Sergio Martinez
- Julio Cesar Chavez Jr